The Hard Work of Being a Family


There is no such thing as a perfect family. Behind every door there are issues.
The difference is accepting and encouraging each family member as they are,
not as we would like them to be.

~Catherine Pulsifer~

Are you at peace with everyone in your family? If so, congratulations! Be thankful for your family and for your ability to listen to each other and talk about your differences. No two people are the same.  Our values and perceptions are all at least a little different. It is inevitable that from time to time we will see things in a way which conflicts with the views of even those closest to us.

If you find yourself in conflict with an acquaintance, it might not trouble you. What that person feels or believes might not matter that much to you and you just go on your way. There are plenty of other people in the world. Disagreeing with a few of them is no big deal. What they think does not affect your daily life. You just let it go unless you are one of those people who think everyone must agree with you.

What about conflict with a family member? Did you grow up in a family where your parents were able to listen to each other, digest what they heard and respond lovingly? I have never met a family which approaches conflict in this way one hundred percent of the time, including my own. You might have been lucky enough to have had parents who handled most conflicts this way. If so, you most likely learned good ways to handle conflict most of the time.

You might have had parents who weren’t so good at managing conflicts. If you never saw good ways to handle difficulties as you grew up, you might find yourself at a loss for how to manage your own conflicts. There are a few ways to improve your ability to handle conflict. Here are a few suggestions you might want to try.

  • Find out what is important to the other person and why. Learn how he or she feels about the issue and why.
  • Next, think about what is important to you and make sure you understand your own feelings.
  • Look for areas of agreement. Share these with each other.
  • Share what you love and respect about each other.
  • Make sure you understand the other’s viewpoint.
  • Agree to hear and respect each other’s opinion even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Understanding might lesson the conflict but in the end you might need to accept each other as you both are.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Make sure you understand your own position and feelings about areas of conflict.
  • Get some help understanding yourself if you need it.
  • Do more listening than talking.
  • Try to understand your relative’s position and feelings.
  • Look for ways to support each other regardless of your differences.





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