It’s summer and a lot of us are spending time with family at BBQ’s, reunions, summer vacations, and for holidays. Let’s be honest. There’s at least one family member that drives us crazy! They may have beliefs we don’t agree with, they may want to talk about topics we don’t have any interest in, or want to give us advice we aren’t asking for. We may see them once every few years or fairly often and it’s important to find a way to get along with one another so that we aren’t dreading our time together and we can enjoy the company of our family. Here are some tips on how to get along with family, even when we don’t see eye to eye with one another:
- Be patient. Don’t lose your cool. Take some deep breaths and walk away if you find yourself getting frustrated, angry, or upset and avoid saying or doing something you’ll regret later. You may be able to revisit the conversation later and express your feelings.
- Acceptance. Be yourself, and let your family be who they are. Trying to change someone else won’t work, and what they do or say is out of your control. Instead, focus on what is in your control: what you do or say.
- Check your expectations. Sometimes we have expectations of our family members that aren’t realistic and this can lead to feeling disappointed and frustrated when they don’t live up to them. Chances are your family isn’t even aware of your expectations of them! It may be worthwhile to take a look at your expectations and consider if they are helping or hurting you.
- Agree to disagree. Sometimes family members want to talk about emotionally charged topics like politics, money, or parenting and we don’t agree with one another. Know when it’s time to end the conversation and do so respectfully. It may be that you have to change the topic and talk about something else.
- Practice direct communication. Use “I” statements when speaking rather than beginning what you say with “You…” Approach conversations with curiosity rather than judgment. Even if we don’t agree, we can still learn about one another and ourselves by having openness in the way we approach talking with one another.
While spending time with family can be stressful, it can also be a time for love, connection, laughter, and fun if we practice ways to communicate and interact more effectively. By noticing and appreciating the things we are grateful for in our families, we can make the most of our time together. After all, our families influenced who we are today.
By: Kate Kelsey, MA, LMFT
If you are struggling with this and can’t seem to overcome some of theses hurdles, give us a call or email at 303-353-9226 or email@example.com and you can meet with someone to talk further about this.