IT IS THE BIGGEST issue of our lives: family dynamics – those that tend southwards: conflict, both seemingly reconcilable and irreconcilable.
We all sense the truth in this. When things go well within our families, things are good, and life runs swimmingly. But when things go poorly at a family level it becomes a crisis for everyone concerned, especially those least in control: children, youth, grandparents, wives, husbands, others (probably in that order).
When family issues swarm, prowl and condemn many, if not all, in the family set-up feel a varying burden of strain. It’s not just those who are responsible or those in control who feel it; everyone does.
So, what can we do?
Practical Considerations with Family Issues
- Space is always important in conflict situations – distance apart and time apart, to consider matters in the reasonability of one’s own mind.
- Getting into the other person’s moccasins. Yes, trying to stand from their position can be a great help. If the conflict occurs that is unevenly yoked – for instance, a child or a youth against a parent or grandparent – it’s good to consider the uneven power differential. Sometimes the most aggrieved party will need to talk with a non-family member (in a counselling role) to gain the perspective and receive the empathy required.
- The simple acknowledgement that everyone is trying their best is important. It may not seem as if the other party is trying, but it is rare that family members go against each for sport. It is a great thing to be aware of that not everyone has the skills to cope with family conflict. Indeed, most of us flounder at some point.
- Making ceremonies out of opportunities for forgiveness and restoration is a thing most families won’t instinctively think of. But the adults in control can organise a celebration – a meal out, a picnic, prizes for those who sorted the conflict out, etc. It might sound corny, but this sort of thing can be done very well and adds immensely to the healing process. It also creates a sense of unity and tradition. When asked, “How did your family cope with conflict?” we could say, “We struggled, but we would always do something to acknowledge and recognise those who forgave and restored relationships in our family.”
All families endure conflict, and some conflicts are so embarrassing we may cover them up. But conflict is astoundingly normal in family dynamics, and don’t they occur one on top of another, or three at a time!
Providing space for reflection, the giving of empathy, acknowledgement of the other person’s situation, and the celebration of resolutions all help.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.