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Making It Work: How to Have Better Relationships with Your Family Members

Updated on October 1, 2015
Birthday card made by my sister
Birthday card made by my sister

Family Matters

Family can be really, really difficult to deal with and it can be pretty tough to keep harmonious relationships with everyone you are related to. All types of issues come up including resentment over parenting styles, fairness and favoritism, sibling rivalry, feelings of betrayal, and hurt over lack of support. You name a problem, and family has got it! Every relationship in life is chosen but those in our family. A lot of people feel stuck with their families, and rightly so!

No matter what incidences come up or which rifts plague familial relationships, there always comes a time for rekindling and reunion. Family simply cannot be replaced and it's what keeps people coming back. This may seem like a curse at times, but it is really a blessing. Family teaches us a lot about ourselves and our interactions with others because we can't always walk away and never look back. Family can push us to the brink and challenge us and even anger us in ways that we never knew we could feel.

However, family often challenges us and forces us to grow in positive ways. We are always being forced to find new ways to find the love in our hearts even when we are upset or deeply hurt by our family members. The fact that we are so attached to these people does not give us an easy way out. We don't get to walk away like we do from our friends, girlfriends, or boyfriends. We are born with the parents, grandparents, cousins, brothers, sisters that we have and nothing can really change that.

If you are having a difficult time with one or many of your family members, here are some tips to help you thorough it:


1. Get Some Space

It's important to get some time to yourself after you have had it out with a family member. Giving yourself a chance to be alone and think about anything other than the problem will allow you to gain some inner peace and give you a new perspective on the situation. The important thing is not to place blame on anyone, especially yourself. Distance yourself from the situation enough to see that everyone is human and that blame does not solve anything. Blame only hurts people and fans the fires of resentment.

When you give yourself time to be alone, you discourage blame, venting, and gossip that you may engage in if you were around your friends. Some people believe that venting is healthy, but it can too easily become rumination which is NOT healthy! It is important to try to focus on the positive, and if you can't find anything positive about a situation or a person, focus on something else. You may not always love everyone, your home, or your job, but it is important to focus on the things you do like about them or at least the things you DO like, period.


2. Remember Yourself

The interdependent nature of family can easily make us forget to rely on ourselves. It can result in blame and resentment when things go wrong in our lives. We can easily be left puzzled by another's actions when they do something that goes against our best interest. The thing that most fail to remember is that everybody has their own best interest at heart first and foremost. People say hurtful things because they are protecting or defending themselves and they are doing the best they can for them. Everyone does it, whether we realize it or not and it is not a bad thing.

Take some time to put yourself first and fulfill your needs. Set aside your conflicts and focus on what will make you feel happy and at peace, not what will bring you justice. When we do this we realize that we are missing out because of what we are failing to do for ourselves, not what anyone else is failing to do for us. This sense of fulfillment will make you feel recharged, independent, and it will ease your resistance to making peace with the person or people who you are in conflict with.


3. Get Outside of Yourself

Whenever you are struggling with anything that is emotionally damaging it is important to get outside of yourself and your negative perspective. Continuing to focus on the situation will only make the problem bigger, resulting in even greater levels of anger and resentment. It is a good idea to engage in an activity that is so encompassing that you can get outside of your mind and give it a rest. It is even better if you do something for someone else because it takes the focus off of you and gives you the break that you need to create a fresh start.

Doing things for others also helps you grow and learn about love and kindness. There are countless organizations and places where you can volunteer that allow you to interact with people or animals who have bigger visions and needs outside of your own. It is always good to step out and serve every once in a while. It gives us the glimpse of what the world could be like if everyone placed a higher emphasis on kindness and giving.


Reach for Love

Family members can teach us the most about love, even when we can't get along. The fact that we are always challenged to find new ways to get along forces us to look for the best in others when we are at odds with them. We always end up looking at the times we had fun together or the generous acts that these people have done for us. It is not easy to force ourselves to consider these things when we are upset, but if we get the space we need and can get outside of ourselves, we can find our footing on the path to repairing our broken relationships.

The question you have to ask yourself, even when your relationships are not in disarray is, if I don't love this person, who will? The people in your family are irreplaceable and you are more inclined to give them second chances than someone who is not related to them. This is your father, mother, sister, brother, daughter, cousin. Nobody is perfect in the sense that they will never disappoint anyone, so you have to people a break, especially the people you love.

Family is not important because of blood ties, it's important because they are the people you have always known. These are the first people who ever shaped your world and they are the people who you have spent the most time with growing up. When that begins to mean something to you, your familial relationships will become that much more precious and petty things will no longer form rifts between you and them.

To avoid conflicts with your family members, it is important to place love and kindness above your ego. It is paramount that you always fulfill your own needs and look to yourself for love and approval first if you want your relationships to be harmonious. Finally, you always have to remember that people are just people and that any relationship that was ever worth anything to you is worth a second chance (family relationships). If you don't love them, who will? Yes, they will be loved, but no one can love them the way you can. Rise to the challenge and open your heart and keep it open forever.

Flowers from my grandmother's garden
Flowers from my grandmother's garden

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