We can choose our friends and sometimes even our co-workers, but we cannot choose who our family members are. We are stuck with them for better or for worse and we are bound together forever.
As individuals, we are each are unique in more ways than can be listed. Because of this, family members don’t always get along and disagreements can be expected. Nevertheless, being family with someone does not need to be a constant nightmare.
Step back and think about the situations that cause conflict. You might actually begin to appreciate the differences in others around you, the variations that play upon the family dynamics as a whole. Take a closer look and you may even find hidden similarities you appreciate as well. If you're not careful, you could actually end up liking your family members even though they seem impossible to comprehend and drive you absolutely crazy. Coexistence with your family unit can actually become bearable, perhaps even enjoyable, despite the seething madness, the exasperation, the mayhem and inane antagonism. It just takes a good deal of consideration and understanding, kindness and courage and tact as well as patience, patience, patience and more patience.
Understand that you can never get along with everyone all of the time. Because we are human, each one of us is absolutely unique unto ourselves and completely different from everyone else. We all have the right to exist as we are and we all have the right to our own feelings, habits, and personalities as we diversify naturally. Each member of a family has a special role to play for the purpose of the whole. Recognizing and respecting each person’s right to their unique place in the family dynamic is the first big step to a peaceful co-existence. This also means accepting that some family members will not understand this concept, nor will they respect other family members’ unique roles or their rights to exist in the home as individuals. Therefore, we also must accept that they have the right to not understand, or perhaps are lacking the capacity or merely the desire to understand and that they cannot or will not accept other individuals rights to deviate from their own understanding or lack thereof. Conflicts arise as humans diversify. Understanding and tolerance of others is only achieved from the acceptance of their right to exist as individuals. Respect for anybody is still a long way off, so we are just going to have to make due with being polite for right now.
Be patient, even if others aren't. Unfortunately, not everyone will hold such a virtue as patience. Impatience is unavoidable, because as human beings, we are all often rash, cruel, rude, disgusting, etc., to varying degrees. We are sensitive, callous, considerate, tolerant, inconsiderate, petty, profound at different times and in different situations. The best thing we can do is to try to be aware of this, be prepared for it, and learn to avoid such moments when personalities will surely clash. We must learn how to adapt to and overcome the conflicts of our obvious differences in order to remain functional in a family group. Only with patience and understanding can we achieve successful cooperation.
Work on being friendly. If you’re nice to everyone first thing in the morning, they’ll be nice to you all day long. Taking a moment to say or do something pleasant and kind is greatly rewarding both for you and for the recipient. Instead of just going through routine motions, try to greet your family members amiably with sincere warmth and affection. No matter how small or insignificant a gesture may seem, it still goes a long way to create a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere for all. Furthermore, you can combine a good-natured smile with a thoughtful compliment to instantly achieve a total sense of civil unity within the group. A family greatly at ease is far less predisposed to inner controversy and battles. To continue the comfortable alliance all around everyone will be wholly content to keep the peace.
Realize that sometimes, conflict will be unavoidable. Buttons will be pressed, tempers will flare, and arguments will undoubtedly happen. One good thing about family however, is that it is family. No matter what they do to you or you do to them, you're still all in it together. There’s no possible breaking up or permanent severance.
Know that squabbling is a natural, normal, even healthy aspect of interacting families. Bickering keeps each role in a unit clearly defined. Our occasional quarrels are reminders of a basic primordial human need for a role in a small family unit on which we still depend. Today, our conflicts arise from a lack of dependency on the cooperation of our family group for immediate gain. Without a dire need of one another, we must recognize our developmental strengths and remember how to use them constructively for the good of everyone.
Be tactful. Sometimes, there is no escape from dealing with family members. Maybe there is a shared chore to accomplish, or a coveted possession to be shared. Perhaps the holidays are coming and there is just nowhere to hide from one another. Sometimes, a little diplomacy can go a long way to defuse annoying issues before they come up. If you know where possible conflict could develop, you can approach the family member and propose a solution that will make both your lives easier from the start. Discussing, bargaining, even subtle bribing could settle issues before there’s even a problem. Also, the relationship with that particular family member may possibly be greatly improved with the exercise of such successful cooperation. You might even find that you are both smiling congenially as you collaborate for a common goal. This kind of resolution puts you both back on the same team. Cooperation is the exact reason we evolved to exist in small family groups, so it naturally leads to inner contentment, fulfilling a primal directive.
If you can’t beat ‘em, ignore ‘em. Sometimes, you finally just reach your wit’s end, and after blowing up at a person, bending over backward, or beating your head (or someone else’s) against a wall, you decide that you simply cannot endure the behavior or personality, peeve, or whatever of a family member any more. You accept that even though you may have pleaded with them, or discussed, screamed or muttered under your breath, bargained, debated or even threatened over a conflict, there is simply nothing that can be done to resolve the problem effectively. In a case like this, the best thing you can do is just concentrate on your own life and pay as little attention as possible to the annoyance factor. By effectively tuning out the cause of such colossal irritation, you can go about your own day with minimal disruption. Simply ignoring the family member can also save a great deal of energy and aggravation. If you are able to resist such provocation completely you’ll remain free of that sense of futility and frustration and maintain a sense of peace.
The goal of this page is to show solutions for maintaining a single family unit's functional and peaceful coexistence. Keep in mind though that these are just suggestions. Even though the source of this information may have come from a large amount of research, it still comes with a large dose of personal opinion.