Our family’s is where we first learn the different ways to function within a society. They give us the opportunity to see and understand true conflict, while also being a place of love and warmth. Family should be what we can depend on in even in the toughest of times. But more often than not, we can take this “built in” idea of unconditional love and neglect it. So what happens when when the relationships within our family’s seem to derail? Deciding that these relationships are worthy of improvement and investment is the first step.
Be Fair and Fight Kindly
Empathize With Family Members
First and foremost, empathizing with family members is crucial to improving any and all of our relationships. Without empathy and the willingness to see and perceive things differently than how we might often like to, there is certainly no intention of creating healthy bonds with our family members.
Learn to Fight from a Place of Love
It’s impossible to live a life completely free of stresses and arguments. Family tensions can and will run high at times. The goal should never be just to do away with arguments within a family, but to navigate them in a more fruitful variety. Since arguments, bad days, and inter-family tensions are not things we can avoid, we need to learn how to argue well rather than not argue at all. All is to say, we must come from a place of love. The first, and possibly most important thing to remind ourselves on a regular basis is that each of us as human beings are deeply imperfect. We are not beyond fault as parents, partners, or children.
Create Opportunities for Communication
A hectic schedule doesn’t mean meaningful communication can’t exist. It’s no secret that we are often overworked, and overcommitted. Rushing from work, to Girl Scouts, to baseball practice, to the grocery store. There will be days that feel like a blur of task after task to be accomplished. Whatever your schedule may be, it may feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to be present with your family. Don’t let that feeling get in the way of good communication with your loved ones. Take any and all opportunities to talk.
Look at Your Schedule
…and make a change. It’s not harmful to cut down on the extracurriculars if you and your family members begin to feel overextended. The time it could free up for togetherness is invaluable.
Make Time for Family Outings
that will help build individual and family wide bonds. One on one time with family members is just as important for improving your family dynamics. Don’t focus on the amount of time spent, focus on making sure its quality time.
The Golden Rule of Listening
Often times we’re listening with the intention of talking when given the chance. If you find yourself in that situation, think of the 80/20 rule. Remember that it’s important to listen four times more than we talk. If the conversation is negative, a person’s first reaction may be to scream and rant. Avoid that be processing as much as possible before speaking. And as always, remember to practice empathy, forgiveness, and to argue from a place of love.
Step Away from the Devices
I know, easier said than done. But it may be the most important thing you can do. Be present with your family any chance you get. Turn off those devices, and talk about your day. Even if it’s just for the length of a car ride.
Rebuilding and Repairing
Often times the distance we feel within our families are for reasons not so easily fixed. It’s Sometimes it takes more than just finding the time to spend together. What if your relationships feel beyond repair? But where there is mutual love and respect, there is always a chance to start anew, and a chance to heal.
Highs and Lows
Unfortunately, many relationships become fragile, or even nonexistent because of situations involving addiction. Families dealing with chronic disease my feel utterly alone, but statistically speaking they’re far from it. According to a study done by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, about 21.5 million Americans carry with them a substance abuse disorder. There are many strategies that can be taken in such situations. Of course, if at all possible, seeking help from a professional is greatly advised. Outside of professional assistance, there are steps we can gradually take to improve family ties that need copious amounts of attention.
Rebuilding Trust Takes Time
What is seen so often in the aftermath of addiction is a lack of trust between family members. Trust isn’t something that can be rebuilt overnight. It may take years to get to the place of security that was once felt. It’s important to give yourself and your loved ones time. It’s important to remember the needs of both the person suffering and the persons entangled. Improving and repairing a relationship can mean putting in the work at a distance. No matter the distance, family engagement is the key to improving relationships. Involvement and investment in the wellbeing of family as a whole is critical.
Find Support in the Ones You Love
Whether this involves rehab, family therapy, or marriage counseling, family can be used in an unselfish way as a pillar of strength in the darkest of times. What harms us is the isolation and alienation we may feel due to a lack of trust and connection. Stick together whenever it is emotionally possible. Empathize with your family members, be willing to see differing perspectives, listen actively, and allow each member to directly communicate what they need.
Be Direct and Honest
In order to be better for our families, we must also be better for ourselves. Don’t withhold any truths that needs to be spoken out of fear you are could be challenged, or for the fear of how your family will perceive you. Trust that empathy is present, and be honest with both what you need to a better family member as well as what you need from others. Always remember to give opportunities for others to do the same!
The Past is in the Past
It’s healthy to remind ourselves that because of the very human qualities we all share, we will be constantly in need of forgiveness. No one is perfect, and it’s the willingness to come to terms with that fact that any progression in positive communication and rebuilding can happen. Forgiveness is a necessary step to recovery of any kind. No matter the past issues, if the intent is to repair a relationship fully, we must be willing to accept all of its previously negative facets. In order to improve the relationships we hold most dear, we have to accept what we cannot change, and put our efforts into the positive changes we can make in the future.
Being vulnerable should never be overlooked. We each have a vast amount of feelings, desires, and thoughts that run through us daily. Be fair to yourself and to others, and allow people access to those thoughts and feelings. Speak openly about your state of being, whether its negative or positive. Being honest and open with yourself and others will likely have widely positive effects on all the aspects of your life.