Freedom Friday – Family Relationships

Be-Empowered-Today.comStrengthening Family Relationships Relationships take work. Family relationships are no different. And raising children, whether alone or with a spouse is hard work that can sometimes leave you feeling like you’re doing everything wrong. But regardless of what happened in the past or where you are currently in your relationships, there are things you can do to improve and maintain healthy interactions with your loved ones.

It is important to know that changing family dynamics requires change from every family member. When we accept that the only person we can control is ourselves, changing becomes more personal and much more doable. Look for changes that you can make that will positively impact your relationships. Don’t wait for others to change and don’t base your change on what others do or don’t do. Be committed to doing your part simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Other tips that may help:

-Schedule family nights and family meetings. Daily activities can get in the way of fully connecting with each other. Chose a day or night where everyone can get together and interact in a fun way. If you have teens, be prepared to hear complaints about it. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast. Allow all members a chance to take turns choosing what the activities will be. Hopefully that will cut down on some of the complaints. Also, periodically plan family meetings. While parents are “in charge”, being a family requires input from the entire family. Valuing what each member contributes is important. Make sure it isn’t a gripe fest. Focus on the positives. Keep the meetings structured so everyone knows what to expect.

-Set the rules/expectations. There are definite values and unspoken rules within families, however members need to be aware of what is expected of them at all times. House rules help clarify boundaries and provide guidelines for positive interaction among family members.

Break negative feedback loops. If you argue about the same issues over and over, something or someone has to change before the issue will be resolved. Think about what the real issue might be. When it comes to parenting, sometimes we are scared to give up control. We are afraid to give in. We are in fear of our children doing something or becoming someone “bad”. Don’t let that fear back you into a corner. Try approaching the issue differently, or just drop it. Look at the big picture… So, whether it is with our children or our significant other, is the cause of the repeated argument worth a severed relationship? Pick and choose those things that are worth “the fight”.

-Avoid lecturing. Instead use short statements and then leave it alone.

-Avoid blaming. Blaming puts everything on the other person, causing them to be defensive, which lowers the chance of a positive outcome. Own your part. No one can make you say, feel, think or do anything that you don’t want. By stating what you feel and how you contributed to the issue allows you to see where you can make different choices in the future. It puts some responsibility on you and not just on the other person. It also allow the other person to see that you are in it together and you are willing to do your part to make things better.

-Avoid put downs. Instead provide constructive feedback. An easy technique is the sandwich method: start with a positive, address the issue (directly/specifically), then close with a positive. This involves 3-4 sentences. Remember do not to lecture.

-Avoid negative verbal interaction. Don’t yell, use sarcasm or talk in absolutes (you always… or you never…).

-Avoid negative non-verbals. Use a neutral tone, give direct eye contact, actively listen and use appropriate facial expressions.

-Use active listening skills. Give everyone a chance to speak without interrupting. To confirm that you understand, repeat back what the other person said (including the feelings associated with it). Doing this ensures that you fully understand. It also helps prevent the listener from being distracted or thinking of their comeback instead of paying attention to the one speaking.

-If the situation gets tense, take a time out. It may take a while to master personal time outs appropriately, however, if communicating in the moment is not moving in a positive direction or tempers are getting out of control, it is important to take time to regain composure. From there, you can discuss what happened (thoughts and emotions) and how to work through the issue without it re-escalating.

-Finally, remember that it is a process. Change won’t happen overnight. Start where you are and move forward from there. If what you are doing now is not working, don’t be afraid to try something different. The only regrets you will have is if you do nothing. All families have challenges. Depending on the dynamics of your family, those challenges can feel like roadblocks. It’s good to remember that all families experience issues, arguments and setbacks, however, family interactions don’t have to be difficult. Take the time to work on improving the relationships that matter to you. Family is forever. Be patient, remember that change starts with you…and be empowered.

Twitter: @Bjstheratweet
Facebook: #/BarbaraHowellRaleighCounseling

Living as I’m learning. This I know: what we think effects what we feel; fear/stress affects our mind & body. Positive mind + Regulated body = Empowered being



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