8 Situations That Commonly Cause Family Conflict

Writer Leo Tolstoy once observed that “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This may be true in the sense that families are complex units made up of complex individuals, and the ways in which they relate to each other and the circumstances in which they find themselves are unique. One family’s issues may be completely distinct from another’s. 

That said, however, there’s a set of broad patterns that tend to cause conflict across many families—whether biological or chosen. To compound the issue, many lack the tools to handle these challenges in a healthy way. Read on for eight of the most common sources of conflict in families, along with steps you can take to try and address or cope with them.

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Signs Of Unhealthy Family Conflict

Every family will inevitably face conflict from time to time. However, those that go unresolved or that are dealt with in unhealthy ways can take a toll on members and their relationships with each other. They can lead to chronic stress levels (which can lead to health problems), mental health challenges, and even estrangement.

Some signs of ongoing family conflict that’s not being handled in a healthy way can include:

Passive-aggressive behaviors

Sweeping issues ‘under the rug’

Frequent bickering and/or fighting

Disagreements frequently escalating to yelling/screaming

Frequent periods where some members aren’t speaking to others

A lack of trust between members

Codependent behavior

Abuse of any kind

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.

8 Common Causes Of Family Conflict

If you’ve recognized that your family is experiencing conflict, identifying the root cause can be the next step toward managing it. Although many people are already aware of what’s causing the core conflict within their family, it can be helpful to see some of the most common ones listed out—both to provide insight into how multiple issues can overlap and interact, and to take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your experience. See below for some of the most common causes of family stress or discord.

Parental Relationship Problems

Parents who are constantly fighting—whether they're still together or separated or divorced—can cause tension for all members. One parent who is in an unhealthy relationship with someone can also be distressing for the other members to observe.

Financial Concerns

Many families face serious challenges in meeting the basic needs of all members. Whether it’s because of systemic issues, job loss, inability to work, uncontrolled spending, gambling problems , or another reason, stress and conflict related to money and bills is common.

Health Conditions 

When one or more family members is experiencing a health challenge—from a chronic physical condition to a mental illness to a disability—it can affect the others. Stress and worry as well as providing care and paying medical bills can sometimes result in tension.

Toxic Behaviors

Sometimes, stress or dysfunction in a family can be traced primarily to the toxic behaviors of one member. For example, someone who frequently engages in manipulation tactics, dishonesty, scapegoating, or similar behaviors can be extremely difficult or even dangerous to live with. These can be personality traits or signs of certain personality disorders .

Unaddressed Trauma

In most cases, trauma that has not been effectively and healthily recognized, processed, and healed will cause issues in a person’s life in some way. A family unit that experiences trauma together—such as war, a natural disaster, or the sudden death of a loved one—or vicariously through one member may experience conflict that arises as a result of this unaddressed pain. This can be especially true for various forms of intergenerational trauma .

Unhealthy Expectations

Family members who feel pressure to conform to unhealthy and/or impossible standards may experience negative effects as a result. For example, a household where everyone is expected to perform perfectly in school or work, never express negative emotions, or never bring up conflict can eventually cause members to disengage or lash out.

Too Much Or Too Little Time Together

Families that have to live in close quarters and spend most or all of their time together are liable to face conflict, as many learned during the COVID-19 lockdown . On the other hand, families that are so busy or live so far apart that they rarely get to spend quality time together could also end up experiencing conflict.

Poor Or Nonexistent Communication

Healthy, honest, frequent communication is widely considered to be the foundation of healthy relationships of all types. Families without it are likely to experience recurrent conflict as issues that arise may not be properly addressed and members may not feel heard.

Addressing Family Conflict

After you’ve uncovered the root of the conflict your family is experiencing, the next recommended course of action is usually to engage in open communication about it with your family members. If you’re wondering how to resolve family conflict , setting aside a time when you can calmly and reasonably bring up the issue(s) without being aggressive or accusatory can be effective in some cases. Although you may not be able to solve all the issues with one conversation, it can represent a first step toward collaborating to create a happier, healthier family dynamic together over time. 

However, sometimes it’s not feasible or not safe for one person to communicate something that’s been bothering them to the others. Some family members may be resistant to even speaking openly about it, much less working toward solutions. Others may engage in extreme reactions that make it difficult to ever get to the root of the problem. In cases like these, therapy could be a next step to consider.

How Therapy Can Help

Families that are willing to engage in therapy can rely on a family therapist to guide the discussion and the handling of conflict. This type of healthcare professional can equip members with techniques to help with things like communication, problem solving, and stress management that they can use in the present conflict and in the future. They can also identify and address any mental health challenges that could be affecting any member and, in turn, their family. If you’re interested in locating a family therapist in your area, you can find directories of licensed providers online or ask your physician, friends, or community members for a recommendation.

However, if some or all of your family is unwilling to attend family therapy, you may find it useful to attend individual sessions on your own. While this won’t change the behavior of your family members, it can offer you a safe, nonjudgmental space to express your feelings and get advice on healthy, constructive strategies to try when engaging with them. 

If in-person therapy is inaccessible or unaffordable for you, you might consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp instead where you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can meet with from home or anywhere else you have an internet connection. Plus, session costs are less than the average in-person visit and comparable to most insurance co-pays. Research suggests that there is likely “no difference in effectiveness” between in-person therapy and online therapy, so you can typically feel confident in whichever format you may choose. See below for reviews of BetterHelp counselors from clients who have faced similar challenges. 

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“Nicole is great! I’ve been seeing her for both couples counseling and individual therapy. She is kind and sympathetic while still being straightforward and practical. She always helps me find ways to overcome obstacles or look at things from another perspective. Also, she has a ton of helpful resources that she has given through the BetterHelp app. It is very convenient and just what I needed to get through a difficult year!”

“Danielle is amazing! She’s helping me grapple with incredibly difficult challenges in one of my most important relationships. She listens well, synthesizes my scattered thoughts & feelings, and offers helpful tools, activities & resources to work on outside of our sessions. Danielle provides honest feedback and creates a safe space. I can feel that she genuinely cares.

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5 ways to solve family problems

All families deal with relationship difficulties, small or large, at various times throughout the family experience. Family problems come in all shapes and sizes, impacting family dynamics and shaping family relationships. The ways that family members cope with and solve issues provide a framework for family dynamics and set the tone for family life. 

How to Solve Family Problems

  • Create an Environment of Sharing
  • Acknowledge the Problem
  • Get to the Deeper Issue
  • Focus on the Relationship – Let Go of Anger and Pride
  • Get Professional Help

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

Creating a family culture of openness and security, and taking the steps to resolve family issues, can improve relationships and maintain positive family dynamics. 

Common Family Problems

Families face a variety of problems, both large and small. Family conflict and relationship problems can include arguments, miscommunication, and misunderstanding. They also can involve deeper issues such as substance abuse, financial instability, mental illness, grief, health problems, and divorce. Sometimes, these issues exist between only two family members, and other times they spread throughout the entire family, creating extended family issues . Some issues, like grief after the loss of a loved one, appear plainly on the surface, while others can be more subtle. Perhaps your child refuses to communicate with you, or your wife doesn’t seem to be a happily married woman .

Family issues often have underlying causes which are not always apparent.. And yet the impact of these root causes can spread throughout the family, creates conflict or emotional strain in several family relationships. Such conflict is especially impactful on a child’s life, creating emotional difficulties that are often carried from their childhood and adolescence into their adult lives and future family relationships.

Create an Environment of Sharing 

Families are built on relationships, and relationships are strengthened through healthy communication. An environment of sharing creates the foundation for healthy communication. Family members need to feel safe to share their feelings and discuss their issues and emotions. As a family oriented parent , that means allowing your child to share their point of view without fear of judgment or punishment. Sometimes, a child just needs to feel certain that what they say will be taken seriously. A child who feels safe can talk about difficult or emotional subjects, such as mental health, self-identity, anxiety, or substance abuse. Children who feel safe and respected are much more likely to open up to a parent when struggling with a situation or trying to make a difficult decision. This is also true for other family relationships—not just between parent and child, but between siblings and within the marriage.

Ways to achieve an environment of sharing include:

  • Listen. Really listen to the other person before providing advice or counsel. Sometimes, it is better to first ask if advice is welcome. If the answer is no, let it go and follow up later.
  • Be willing to share your own feelings. Sometimes things seem obvious to us, but they may not be obvious to your child, spouse, or sibling. Sharing your own feelings without placing blame can bring up new points of view.
  • Speak for yourself and avoid blame. When sharing your perspective, present it as just that - your perspective and not the facts. 
  • Recognize others’ experiences as valid. Telling others how they feel or should feel creates barriers and discourages sharing.
  • Be human. Admitting you are wrong, or that you made a mistake, can help others feel more comfortable to admit their own mistakes.
  • Model the behavior you want to see. We are all influenced by the people who surround us. Modeling healthy ways to express thoughts and emotions encourages others to do the same.
  • Do things together. Families that spend time together engaged in positive activities achieve a sense of closeness that encourages open communication and sharing. Explore shared interests, sports, or service ideas for families . Activities that involve serving others and getting outside are especially fulfilling and often instigate future conversations and closer relationships.

Sharing openly among family members sets the stage for solving family problems and preventing future issues from arising.

Acknowledge the Family Problem 

Sometimes family problems stem from  something simple like a lack of closeness. Other times the problems involve something much more serious, like abuse. Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step in doing something to fix the situation. Ignoring issues and pretending everything is fine are common unhealthy coping mechanisms for family members experiencing relationship conflict or emotionally difficult situations. 

Lack of acknowledgment can exacerbate issues, fuel negative situations, and culminate in negative or damaging behavior, such as lashing out in anger, aggressive argument, substance abuse, or family violence. Acknowledging a problem as early as possible allows positive action to be taken toward fixing the situation, and may prevent unhealthy coping mechanisms that lead to negative situations.

Sometimes we avoid discussing problems because our past efforts to do so only seemed to make things worse. As a result, we believe that avoiding is better than continuing to fight. In truth, avoiding instead of fighting just leads to other side effects in families. Feeling stuck is often a sign that involving a third party is needed, such as a good marriage and family therapist.

Get to the Deeper Family Issue

After acknowledging that a problem exists, steps can be taken to identify the source of the problem and improve the situation. Most family problems are merely symptoms on the surface of a deeper-rooted cause. Knowing the cause paves the way for greater empathy among family members and illuminates situations that require change. Here are some examples of family problems and their deeper issues:

Conflict between siblings – The majority of families will experience some sibling conflict between children at various times. But if that conflict extends beyond the occasional bickering to consistent emotional arguing or angry or hurtful behavior, then a deeper issue is likely the cause. That deeper issue could involve jealousy or feelings of inadequacy, where one child feels overshadowed by the other. One child could be putting pressure on the other to keep a secret from their parents (such as breaking a rule or lying). The cause could also be external, affecting one child who in turn uses their sibling as a dump truck for unloading their stress, frustration, or anger. 

Alcohol abuse or other substance abuse – Family members who abuse alcohol or other substances are often using the activity as an escape mechanism. They could be escaping from a difficult emotional situation, such as grief over the loss of a loved one, financial instability, marriage conflict, or divorce. Or, they could be escaping from physical pain from illness or other health problems. Professional help from a therapist or support group can help to break down the deeper issues that lead people to substance abuse and start them on the road to recovery.

Stress and anxiety in children – These are common effects of a variety of deeper issues. Often, anxiety is triggered by an event or a difficult situation. The stress that stems from it leads to further anxiety, creating a cyclical pattern. The root of the anxiety could be a social issue at school or concern for a friend. It could relate to feeling overwhelmed in school or struggling with an undiagnosed learning disorder. Children often perceive more than they let on and could be reacting to a passing comment from a parent, such as “Our budget is tight this month.” Talking with your child and maintaining trust through open communication encourages children to reveal the source of their anxiety.

Sometimes, identifying the deeper issue and bringing it out in the open is all it takes to resolve a problem. Other times, merely identifying the root cause is just the beginning of the long road to resolution. This important and necessary step will help to develop a plan for resolving issues and encourage understanding within family relationships.

Focus on the Family Relationship – Let Go of Anger and Pride 

Anger and pride are the enemies of healthy family relationships. They feed negative emotions, hamper empathy and understanding, and thwart positive and open communication. Holding on to these feelings blocks the path to conflict resolution. Anger and pride are divisive to family relationships and damaging to individual mental health. They are fuel for the cyclical patterns of stress, anxiety, and depression. Despite knowing this, however, letting go of such emotions can be difficult – and sometimes painful. The fear of pain, vulnerability, or failure are often what keeps a person from improving their family relationships and focusing on the importance of family .

One of the best ways to move beyond that fear is to focus on the relationship. Prioritize the goal—a healthier, happier relationship—over the fear of being hurt or the fear of failure. When family problems exist, a person has usually been hurt already, which makes the fear of being hurt again even greater. But while that risk of further hurt is real, the potential for healing and resolution is also real. Focusing on that potential, and letting go of those negative emotions, opens the door to healthier communication, relationship healing, and better mental health.

Get Professional Family Help

Getting professional help is one of the best ways to handle family problems. Some situations, such as those involving abuse, dangerous behavior, or domestic violence, require immediate professional help and formal family assessment . In other situations, such as ongoing disagreements over a certain topic or lack of closeness within a marriage, brief therapy help can provide the catalyst you need to get unstuck and achieve the fulfilling relationship that you each desire.

Many people hold back from seeking professional help because of fears or misunderstandings. Here are some facts about therapy that help to debunk some of these common myths and misconceptions:

Therapy is for everyone - A common misconception about therapy is that it is reserved for people with mental illness, individuals with an emotional disorder, or people who are too weak to handle their own problems. This could not be further from the truth. As humans, we need other humans to work through issues with us. Therapy provides a safe, confidential environment to do just that. 

Professional help is available for all types of issues, whether large or small, and in a variety of formats. Family therapy, marriage counseling, support groups, and individual sessions with a therapist are just a few examples. There is also a variety of specialties, including psychology, psychiatry, religious counseling, and much more. At the end of the day, therapy is merely a safe space to work through your family problems with the support of a trained professional.

Therapy is worth your time - Another common misconception is that therapy is a waste of time or money. You could talk to anyone, so why talk to a therapist? Therapists have special expertise gained through extensive professional training. They will not only help you talk about your family issues but will help you to develop strategies for resolving difficult situations. A family therapist can also discuss various types of issues you may be dealing with, and different options for resolution or treatment, such as new scientific approaches to treating a specific issues.

Therapy is safe - One myth about therapy is that there are risks. The risk of being judged (by the therapist or by friends and family) or the risk of being medicated. On the contrary, therapy provides a safe and confidential space to explore all options for healing. Often, professional counseling is all that is needed or desired for family conflict resolution.

Professional help can provide growth and healing for a parent, child, or an entire family, improving family dynamics and emotional health. It can provide mediation and conflict resolution within a marriage, between siblings, or any type of family relationship. Think about the type of support (such as family therapy, religious counseling, or psychiatry) that feels right for your family and seek it out.

It is true that the quality of the professional you work with can make a big difference in the outcome of your therapy. For this reason, it’s often best to seek a referral from a trusted friend or family member. If that feels uncomfortable, consider asking for a referral from your family doctor. If you’ve had a negative experience in the past, consider giving it another try, this time with a trusted referral.

Taking care of yourself and maintaining your mental health is essential when attempting to solve family issues. Maintaining positive, healthy family dynamics starts with a healthy self. Being in a healthy mental space allows you to let go of negative emotions. This, in turn, paves the way for safe and open communication between family members and helps the entire family focus on relationships. 

Not only does this place you in the right frame of mind to address family conflict, but it models a healthy example for your children to do the same. It is integral to maintaining a strong family structure that provides a sense of stability and security for children. For a parent, maintaining your mental health can provide you with the strength and perspective needed to maintain the necessary qualities of a good father and mother, such as understanding and empathy.

Taking care of yourself is often easier said than done, especially while feelings of stress, anxiety, or emotional dissatisfaction prevail. Finding a healthy outlet to decompress and let go of stress and other negative emotions can help to maintain a healthy state of mind. Choose a regular time in your schedule just for maintaining you. This could include a daily exercise routine, a therapeutic hobby (such as gardening or journaling), or a weekly therapy session. Taking care of yourself leaves you open to model healthy behavior for your children and to focus on family relationships.

Impact of Family Problems

When not addressed, family problems can have serious impacts on individual family members. Issues such as increased levels of stress and anxiety, emotional difficulties and disorders (such as depression), substance abuse, and addiction, are all likely to surface. Sometimes, these impacts carry on throughout a child’s life. Family problems can especially impact children, who are often capable of perceiving much more than one might think. Children may also perceive a problem, but not be able to fully understand it. Such misunderstandings can lead to greater issues, further affecting family dynamics and individual emotions. Where family issues exist, acknowledge the problem, and take the steps to resolution.

Solving Family Problems

Families experience a wide range of issues, some small and some large. These issues typically involve strain or conflict within family relationships. They can have lasting impacts on individual family members, especially children. Taking steps to address family issues, and seeking resolution among family relationships can ease emotions, promote mental health, and maintain a positive family culture. A family culture quiz by Kinmundo is an easy way for families to evaluate and improve the culture within their family.  

A positive family culture requires a structure built on family values that maintains a safe environment for sharing. Open communication in an environment safe from fears of judgment provides a model of stability and security for family members to acknowledge and address important issues with understanding and empathy. Creating such a culture is paramount to solving family issues when they arise.

A family that feels open and safe to share emotions, acknowledge issues, and seek help when needed can maintain positive relationships and mental health. When family members are prepared to resolve family conflict, they can reduce the lasting impacts of difficult situations and fix relationships that may seem broken.

5 Ways to Become a More Family Oriented…

5 ways to solve family problems

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How to Deal With Family Problems

Last Updated: November 18, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Tasha Rube, LMSW . Tasha Rube is a Licensed Social Worker based in Kansas City, Kansas. Tasha is affiliated with the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. She received her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Missouri in 2014. This article has been viewed 351,083 times.

Death, addiction, money troubles, mental illness, separation/divorce, and transitional adjustments all take a toll on the members of a family. During stressful events or when the family’s resources are severely taxed, problems may not be resolved easily. This may lead to hostile disagreements, tension, and resentment. Conflict in the family can affect everyone’s functioning. Handle your family problems by learning effective problem-solving skills.

Developing Healthy Problem-Solving

Step 1 Schedule a time to talk as a group.

  • Schedule a meeting at a time that is most convenient for everyone. Make everyone aware of the purpose of the meeting and that you want them to arrive with suggestions and solutions at the ready.
  • Be mindful that young children may be a hindrance to a family meeting. Huddle them in a separate room if you expect tempers to flair or sensitive information to be discussed.
  • Therapists often suggest holding regular family meetings. [1] X Research source This tactic enables family members to bring issues out in the open before resentments develop. Talking with your family regularly can improve communication and the bond that you share.

Step 2 Focus on the issue at hand.

  • Strive to uncover what is important about the current problem. Building a case or bringing up old misdeeds will not assist you in resolving this issue.

Step 3 Have everyone state what they truly mean.

  • Remember, you are aiming to de-escalate the conflict and work towards a solution. Using “I” statements allows everyone to express themselves while showing respect for others listening. Making an “I” statements allows each person to take ownership of what they are feeling, and suggest a remedy for the problem at the same time.
  • Examples of “I” statements include: “I am worried that our family is falling apart. I would like us to work things out.” or “I get scared when Dad drinks a lot because he starts yelling. I wish he could stop drinking”.

Step 4 Listen without interrupting.

  • Effective listening allows the other person to feel heard, motivates the other parties to want to listen to you, defuses arguments and strong emotions, and rebuilds the relationship during the conflict.

Step 5 Validate and show respect for each person’s point of view.

  • Validate your family members by saying something like “I’m really glad you felt comfortable enough to share this with me” or “I appreciate your willingness to work towards a solution”.

Step 6 Decide on a solution together.

Recognizing Communication Roadblocks

Step 1 Be aware of how different family members may react to problems.

  • For some people, conflict causes them to become hostile and defensive. This is the “fight” aspect of the physiological “fight or flight” response. These individuals may argue endlessly to remove any responsibility from themselves, or refuse to hear others’ points-of-view.
  • Others resort to the “flight” aspect. These individuals may run from conflict at all costs. They may deny there’s a problem or believe there’s nothing they can do to resolve it anyway. Such family members may pretend as if they don’t notice any tension in the household, or downplay its effect on them.

Step 2 Acknowledge but get a handle on emotions.

  • First work on trying to identify your emotions. Consider what thoughts you’re having, what you feel in your body, and what actions you want to take? For example, maybe you’re thinking “I hate this family.” Your fists are clenched and you want to punch something. Such a strong emotion could be labeled as anger or contempt.
  • Next, aim to control and ease these strong emotions so that you can effectively problem-solve. Depending on how you’re feeling participate in a complementary activity to ease your discomfort. For example, if you are sad, you might want to watch a funny movie. If you are angry, it might be helpful to vent to a friend or engage in intense physical activity.

Step 3 Resist the urge to point the finger.

  • Using “I” statements are one of the best strategies for minimizing blame and subsequent defensiveness. Say “I fear that your addiction will lead to someone getting hurt” rather than “Addicts are just dangerous people to be around”

Expert Q&A

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  • Your family consists of some of the most important relationships in your life. Having continuous conflict in this area can drastically affect your life satisfaction. If you cannot resolve family issues, seek professional help. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

5 ways to solve family problems

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  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201209/10-tips-holding-family-meeting
  • ↑ https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication-and-conflict/luve-a-five-step-communication-process-for-conflict-resolution/validation-is-the-third-step-to-conflict-resolution-in-luve
  • ↑ http://www.webmd.com/balance/family-therapy-6301
  • ↑ http://www.foundationcoalition.org/home/keycomponents/teams/conflict1c.html
  • ↑ http://www.drnadig.com/conflict.htm

About This Article

Tasha Rube, LMSW

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.


Conflict within the family can lead to disagreements, tension, and resentment. To handle family problems effectively, it is important to learn problem-solving skills and schedule a time for a group discussion. It is crucial to acknowledge the problem and then come together to devise a strategy for resolution. Regular family meetings can help prevent resentments from developing and improve communication. During the discussion, it is important to focus on the current issue and use "I" statements to express needs and concerns. Active listening and validating each person's point of view are essential for conflict resolution. Finding a compromise and seeking professional advice if needed can also be helpful. Additionally, it is important to be aware of how different family members may react to problems and to acknowledge and manage emotions during conflict. Avoiding blaming others and taking responsibility for one's own emotions is crucial for effective problem-solving. To learn how to overcome common communication roadblocks, scroll down. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Solving Common Family Problems: Five Essential Steps

Engaging children in the solution of problems..

Posted May 28, 2012

In every family, there will be problems. No matter how positive and empathic we have been, kids will still argue and misbehave, and ask for more than they can have. The demands of our daily lives—and of theirs—will inevitably create conflict and misunderstanding.

Often, there is a recurring problem. The problem may be getting ready for school in the morning or going to sleep at night. Or doing homework, or fighting with siblings. Children may be demanding or disrespectful, or refuse to cooperate when asked. Over time, these common problems of daily living begin to erode the quality of our relationships with our children - and our own pleasure in being parents.

So often, families get stuck. Despite our best intentions, children become stubborn and defensive—and so do we. In today’s post, I will outline five essential principles that we should keep in mind in attempting to solve any challenging problem of family life.

Step 1: Take a Step Back

The first step in solving any recurring problem in the life of a child is to take a step back. Problems of family life are best solved - and perhaps can only be solved—proactively. When we are reacting to our children’s behavior, we will often be reacting badly. Clinicians and parent advisors of all points of view agree on this point.

Children want to solve problems, and they want to do well. Like us, however, they may become frustrated and even feel hopeless that solutions are possible. And, like us, they may just not know what to do.

Look for causes, not just symptoms. You will solve problems more successfully when you have been able to identify the daily experiences in the life of your child that are sources of painful feelings. These may be frustration in learning, or frequent criticism, or bullying , or exclusion.

Then, listen to your child’s grievance. Let him tell you what he believes is unfair in his life. Tell him what is right about what he is saying before you tell him what is wrong. You can say, for example, “I know you feel that we are always on your case about your schoolwork, and maybe we are. But we’re worried and we need to solve this problem.”

Step 2: Place the Problem Before Your Child

Once you have identified a recurrent problematic situation and made some effort to understand its causes, the next step is to place the problem before your child. Say, for example, “We have a problem in the morning, when it’s time to get ready, and I often end up yelling at you,” or “I think we have a shower problem,” or “A lot of times, we have a problem when I tell you that it is time to turn off the television.”

Step 3: Elicit Your Child’s Ideas

It seems almost reflexive for many parents, when faced with a child’s defiance or lack of cooperation, to attempt to solve this problem by imposing a “consequence” for their child’s misbehavior. Although some problems may require this approach, I recommend that you first engage your child in an effort to solve the problem—to elicit her ideas.

In this way, you will often be able to engage her in a search for solutions. She will then be less absorbed in angry and defiant thoughts, less stuck in making demands or continuing the argument. She will begin to think, even if just for that moment, less about getting her way and instead about how to solve a problem, how her needs and the needs of others might be reconciled - an important life lesson, for sure.

Once you have placed the problem before your child and asked for her ideas, give her some time. You can say, for example, “Why don’t you think about it for a while? Let’s talk again later, or tomorrow, and see what your ideas are.” In doing this, you will be teaching yet another important lesson, because this is how most problems in life should be solved.

Step 4: Develop a Plan

In my experience, almost all children respond positively when I tell a family that “I have a plan” to solve a recurrent problem of family life. They may be skeptical, but they listen with interest. Deep down, they want a plan, as much as we do. (I will offer plans for solving specific family problems in future posts.)

5 ways to solve family problems

Step 5: Express Appreciation and Praise for Increments of Effort and Success

Be sure to offer praise and appreciation for every increment of your child’s effort at compliance and self-control . Your acknowledgment of her effort and progress is a basic principle of successful problem solving.

Psychologists have learned from psychotherapy research that ongoing collaboration is an important element of successful therapy. This is also true in solving problems with our children. We should regularly, proactively, check in with children, and ask, for example, “How do you think we are doing with our morning problem?”

Copyright Ken Barish, Ph.D.

Ken Barish is the author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems .

Kenneth Barish Ph.D.

Kenneth Barish, Ph.D. , is a clinical associate professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University.

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What are dysfunctional family relationships?

Common causes of family conflict, tips on interacting with difficult family members, when to cut ties with family members, dealing with difficult family relationships.

Struggling to coexist with difficult family members? Learn about common sources of conflict and how to deal with dysfunctional family relationships.

5 ways to solve family problems

Mothers, fathers, siblings—your closest family members can form a lifelong social support system. They can celebrate your highs and give you comfort when you're at your lows. Even so, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to happen. Minor conflicts between family members are normal, and they typically resolve on their own or with some constructive dialogue. But other conflicts can be much more significant. In cases where resentment and toxic patterns arise, family interactions can become lasting sources of frustration and tear relationships apart.

Difficult family relationships can take on many forms. You might have an overly critical dad who makes you feel anxious. Perhaps a sibling's jealousy is a constant source of tension at family functions. Or maybe you believe a new in-law's controlling behavior leads to unnecessary drama.

These turbulent family relationships can have long-lasting effects on your health and well-being. You might:

  • Begin to blame yourself for these poor relationships.
  • Experience fear and anxiety surrounding family or holiday events.
  • Hesitate to reach out to other family members.
  • Suffer from lack of emotional or financial support during hard times.
  • Develop trouble sleeping or focusing due to the stress of these interactions.

Research even indicates that poor relationships with parents, siblings, or spouses can contribute to midlife depression symptoms . Exposure to domestic conflicts can also have a long-term impact on a child's well-being as well. One longitudinal study found that domestic arguments and violence can increase a child's risk of developing mental and physical health problems later in life.

To minimize these consequences, you can learn how to identify causes of family tension and take steps to create peaceful interactions. While you might eventually find that cutting ties is the best option for your health and happiness, there are approaches you can take that can help repair family bonds and improve your relationships with those closest to you.

Speak to a Licensed Therapist

Before you learn how to deal with difficult family members, it helps to examine why those relationships are rocky to begin with. Consider these common causes of family disputes and ways to navigate them:

Family finances

Family members tend to have some degree of financial overlap. Siblings might bicker over an inheritance. Parents may have strong opinions on how their children handle money. Or adult children might feel the need to control their aging parents' finances.

When it comes to large family events, such as weddings or holiday parties, financial disagreements can often come to a head. However, there are ways to navigate money-related problems within your family.

Put things in writing. If you expect a family member to pay you back for a personal loan, for example, make a written agreement between the two of you. This can help you avoid arguments or even legal disputes.

Set boundaries. If a family member is pressuring you to loan or give them money or wants to dictate your finances, it's important to clarify the type of behavior you won't tolerate. Be clear so your family member will know when they’ve crossed the line.

Know when to be transparent. You don't have to share all of your financial details with anyone. But, in cases where your decisions may affect your family members, it's best to be transparent. You might want to talk to your children about details of their inheritance to avoid a future conflict, for example, or let your siblings know why you can't contribute to a shared expense.

[Read: Coping with Financial Stress]

Caregiving responsibilities

Research from 2020 shows that about 19 percent of Americans are acting as unpaid family caregivers. The stresses and responsibilities of being a caregiver can weigh heavily on family relationships.

Studies indicate that tension between siblings tends to increase when a parent begins to need some level of caregiving. Perhaps you believe your sibling is in denial over your parent's health and needs to be more proactive. Or maybe you and your sibling disagree on whether an assisted living facility is the right housing choice for your parent.

Conflicts over caregiving aren't limited to sibling relationships. You might have arguments with your parents or spouse over how to raise your children.

When you and another family member are at odds over caregiving, try these tips:

Be open about what level of support you need as a caregiver. If you keep your feelings to yourself, resentment can grow and increase tensions.

Look for compromise and accept other people's limitations. If your sibling can't physically assist with caregiving, perhaps they can offer financial help. Remember to show your appreciation when your sibling takes on responsibilities.

If someone else is completely unable or unwilling to help with parental caregiving, try looking for support outside of your family .

[Read: Family Caregiving]

New family members

As your family expands, so does the potential for new conflicts. In one study of estrangement between mothers and adult children, more than 70 percent of the mothers said other family members caused the rift. The mothers often pointed to the child's partner or spouse as the problem.

These conflicts aren't limited to mothers and children, of course. You and your brother-in-law might have a contentious relationship. Or perhaps your father-in-law always seems to expect too much from you. To better get along with your in-laws:

Expect differences. Different families have different expectations, boundaries, and ways of doing things. Do you see your daughter-in-law as an untactful or even rude family member? Maybe she comes from a family background that encourages blunt language or tolerates teasing.

Focus on their most positive traits. Your in-laws are part of your family because someone else in your family saw the good in them. If you're having a hard time seeing past their flaws, try making a list of their strengths.

Find common interests. Although it's not always easy, you can usually find shared interests if you look hard enough. Ask about your in-laws' hobbies, passions, and past experiences until you find something that's relatable.

Political and religious differences

Religious and political similarities can affect the strength of family bonds. For example, studies indicate that when mothers share the same religion as adult children, they tend to experience higher-quality relationships.

On the other hand, when family members don't have the same views on religion or politics, it can trigger heated arguments. Maybe your sibling objects to group prayers before meals. Or perhaps you hear insults and snide remarks when you express your political views. Here's how to deal with difficult family members who have opposing views:

Identify useful conversations. When a debate starts, ask yourself what you hope to get from the interaction. Do you expect to completely change your family member's mind? Or are you trying to gain insight into their beliefs? Is it at all possible that either of you will budge on your position? Even if you’ll never agree about something, you can still move the conversation forward if you’re both willing to be open and respectful of each other’s views.

Avoid sweeping generalizations. Statements like, “Everyone on the left is evil” or “Everyone on the right is an idiot” can quickly escalate arguments and further entrench people.

Try to see the human element in the other person's values. Many political beliefs are shaped by an underlying concern for society, such as economic or environmental stability. By recognizing that, the other person’s views may not seem as wildly different from your own.

Know when to exit heated arguments. When emotions run too hot, make a respectful but firm exit from the conversation. You can say something like, “I'm not sure if this is productive. Let's leave it there.” Contain the urge to have the “last word.”

Be mindful of your jokes. Humor can often help diffuse a tense argument . However, avoid aggressive jokes that target the other person's beliefs or values.

Unresolved family issues

Things that happened in the past can have a lasting effect on family relationships. Did you and your son have an explosive argument when he was a teenager? If the matter went unresolved, he might continue to be resentful or distrustful of you. Did your parents seem to favor you over your brothers? Jealousy could become an underlying source of tension for your siblings.

Unresolved issues can often crop up during milestone events or times of change within the family. For example, insecurities over parental favoritism might reappear as you and your siblings begin to act as caregivers to an aging parent.

If you're the one holding onto an issue, speak up. Invite the other person to a private conversation, where you can bring up the issue and share your perspective. Be willing to forgive if the party apologizes for their part in the problem.

If a family member is holding resentment, be empathetic. Try to understand how they perceived events and how the past continues to affect them. If you caused some harm to them in the past, apologize and ask how you can repair the damage to the relationship. For example, if you lost your temper with your son in the past, explain how you plan to do better going forward.

If neither person is at fault, it can still help to acknowledge the past and the effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Remember that no family is perfect, and past events influence present-day perceptions. Focus on what steps you can take in the present to resolve the conflict .

Despite your best efforts and intentions, sometimes you'll find that you simply can't get along with a family member. Perhaps someone continues to hold a grudge against you or refuses to change their behavior.

Your general plan might be to avoid difficult family members. However, that strategy can often be foiled by weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings. Here are some alternate options:

Manage your own stress

Prioritize de-stressing before and after you have to interact with a difficult family member. Effective stress management techniques can range from meditation to going for a walk to journaling your thoughts or chatting face-to-face with a close friend.

If you start to feel stressed by the difficult family member during the event itself, don't hesitate to excuse yourself from the room and use some quick stress relief techniques to clear your head.

  • Rely on your senses to ground yourself in the moment. Take in a deep breath of fresh air, find a friendly cat or dog to pet, or hum a tune to yourself. You can also use your imagination to picture something soothing, like your child's face or a relaxing setting.
  • If you tend to freeze when under stress, activities that involve physical movement are often most effective. Consider doing some stretches, swaying to background music, or jogging in place to burn off tension.

Set and maintain boundaries

Strong, clear boundaries can protect you from toxic family interactions. Imagine you and your spouse are about to visit overbearing in-laws. Talk to your spouse and set a limit on how long the visit will last. You can also set boundaries on conversation topics. If you and your in-laws have had heated arguments over religion, it might be best to steer clear of the topic.

If someone attempts to cross your boundaries, keep your temper in check. Instead, be clear and direct about the consequence. For example, you could say something like: “If you keep bringing up that topic, I'll be leaving early.”

Young woman hitching piggyback ride on partner, both grinning broadly

Ritual offers online counseling, practical tools, and proven interventions to help you heal and strengthen your relationships and improve your communication skills.

Build your emotional intelligence (EQ)

By strengthening your emotional intelligence, you can improve your ability to understand, manage, and express emotions. This can have a positive effect not just on your family relationships but on your overall mental health.

To enhance your EQ, you need to focus on four key skills:

  • Self-management
  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

You can develop these skills by taking steps such as using mindfulness to assess your emotional state and nonverbal cues. Read Improving Family Relationships with Emotional Intelligence for more strategies.

Change your focus

Be willing to acknowledge your family member's strengths as well as their flaws. Perhaps your sibling is confrontational and demanding, but at least they're always willing to help finance family events. Or maybe your mother-in-law is overly critical of you but always supportive of your children.

Practice empathy

Acknowledge that a difficult family member might be going through rough circumstances of their own. From personal insecurities to substance addiction or mental illness, certain underlying factors could be fueling your family member's behavior.

Although these factors don't excuse the behavior, by being more empathetic you might gain a better understanding of the person and why they act the way they do.

Use conflict resolution skills

Conflict resolution skills can come in handy anytime you're dealing with family drama. These skills involve managing stress in the moment , being aware of both your own emotions and the other person's, and prioritizing resolution over winning the argument.

You might notice that an aging parent is lashing out due to a feeling of declining independence. A deescalating step might be to ask them to do you a favor or give them a task that allows them to feel needed.

[Read: Conflict Resolution Skills]

Limit expectations and practice acceptance

Make peace with the fact that some people have viewpoints or priorities that may never match your own. Your adult children, siblings, or parents will do what they feel is right for them, and you can't control their behavior. Try to treasure the relationship for what it is, or focus on other relationships that bring you joy.

At what point is a dysfunctional family relationship no longer worth saving? That may depend on different factors.

What's the potential for change? The other person must be willing to acknowledge the problem and work to change. Some people don't want to change, and you can't control their behavior. If you're dealing with a narcissistic family member , their inflated self-image, lack of empathy, and manipulative ways can hinder any meaningful progress.

How severe is the conflict? In cases of abuse , it’s usually advisable to cut ties with the family member. Remember that abuse doesn't necessarily have to be physical. People who subject you to verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse can also harm your sense of well-being. This could include a father-in-law who aims to humiliate you or siblings who use guilt-tripping to manipulate you.

Dealing with doubts

Cutting ties means ending contact with the difficult family member, which is not always easy. You might repeatedly question your decision or have a hard time accepting that the relationship is unsalvageable.

Keep a list of specific reasons why you've decided to end contact. Did the person cross your boundaries too many times? Did the stress of your interactions negatively affect other areas of your life? Write it all down, so you don't forget.

How to deal with the grief of ending a relationship

Depending on how close you were to the family member, you may need to take time to grieve the loss of the relationship.

Rather than suppress your feelings, identify and acknowledge them. It's normal to experience anything from anger to sadness to guilt following the end of a relationship. You should also expect grief to intensify on days that remind you of the family member, such as birthdays or holidays.

Talk to friends and other family members about the situation. Now is a good time to reach out for support. Tell the supportive people in your life what you need from them. You might even strengthen bonds with other family members.

Maintain your hobbies and health. Continue to engage in activities you love, and look after your physical healthy by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritious foods. Don't use drugs or alcohol to cope with your negative feelings .

Moving forward

Over time, people's behaviors and circumstances can change. So, know that cutting off ties doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent. If you see evidence that your family member is truly willing to make amends, there may be a chance of reconciliation.

Don't rush reconciliation, though. You should both accept that the process may take time and requires concrete steps for improving the relationship. With a combination of patience and improved communication , you might be able to repair that broken bond and move forward with a healthier relationship.

More Information

  • Help with Relationships - Articles addressing common relationship problems, such as arguments, conflict, and communication. (Relate UK)
  • Buist, K. L., van Tergouw, M. S., Koot, H. M., & Branje, S. (2019). Longitudinal Linkages between Older and Younger Sibling Depressive Symptoms and Perceived Sibling Relationship Quality. Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 48(6), 1190–1202. Link
  • Con, G., Suitor, J. J., Rurka, M., & Gilligan, M. (2019). Adult Children’s Perceptions of Maternal Favoritism During Caregiving: Comparisons Between Turkey and the United States. Research on Aging , 41(2), 139–163. Link
  • Full-report-caregiving-in-the-united-states-01-21.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2022, from Link
  • Gilligan, M., Suitor, J., Nam, S., Routh, B., Rurka, M., & Con, G. (2017). Family Networks and Psychological Well-Being in Midlife. Social Sciences , 6(3), 94. Link
  • Paradis, A. D., Reinherz, H. Z., Giaconia, R. M., Beardslee, W. R., Ward, K., & Fitzmaurice, G. M. (2009). Long-Term Impact of Family Arguments and Physical Violence on Adult Functioning at Age 30 Years: Findings From the Simmons Longitudinal Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry , 48(3), 290–298. Link
  • Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Coleman, J., Wang, J., & Yan, J. J. (2021). Mothers’ attributions for estrangement from their adult children. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice . Link
  • Sechrist, J., Suitor, J. J., Vargas, N., & Pillemer, K. (2011). The Role of Perceived Religious Similarity in the Quality of Mother-child Relations in Later Life: Differences Within Families and Between Races. Research on Aging , 33(1), 3–27. Link
  • Suitor, J. J., Gilligan, M., Johnson, K., & Pillemer, K. (2014). Caregiving, Perceptions of Maternal Favoritism, and Tension Among Siblings. The Gerontologist , 54(4), 580–588. Link
  • Waldinger, R. J., Vaillant, G. E., & Orav, E. J. (2007). Childhood Sibling Relationships as a Predictor of Major Depression in Adulthood: A 30-Year Prospective Study. American Journal of Psychiatry , 164(6), 949–954. Link

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Tips for Dealing With Family Conflict

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

5 ways to solve family problems

Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

5 ways to solve family problems

Rob Lewine/Creative RF/Getty Images

While family relationships can bring support, joy, and other wonderful benefits into our lives, these relationships can also bring stress, particularly when there's unresolved conflict. Because it's more difficult to let go of conflicted relationships with family than it would be if these relationships were mere friendships, unresolved conflicts with family members can be particularly painful.

We have certain expectations of trust and closeness toward family members. It can be more than merely disappointing to realize that this may not be possible with all family members.

At a Glance

Family gatherings can be a source of stress if you're dealing with unresolved family conflicts that create tension, anger, or arguments. Such conflicts are painful and can make it more difficult to trust.

If you are struggling with how to deal with such situations, focus on staying polite. Talking about the problem (calmly and respectfully) may help, but there are also times when you just have to forgive, forget, or even minimize how much time you spend around the other person.

Why Dealing With Family Conflict Is So Stressful

Unresolved family conflicts bring additional stress, particularly at family gatherings. Past unresolved conflicts can become the elephant in the room, felt by everyone but not directly addressed. This can be stressful for everyone before and during the family gatherings, sometimes leaving a lasting sense of stress afterward. 

Family is often a source of support but can also be a source of distress. Research has found that intrusive or controlling family relationships can lead to stress and resentment.

Family Conflict Interferes With Trust

Without a heartfelt discussion, an apology, or another form of resolution, the trust on both sides is compromised , and they may not know what to expect from this person in the future.

For example, the time your mother-in-law criticized your cooking may come up in your mind every time she visits, and others may sense your tension.

Reminders Can Still Hurt

This leads many people to assume the worst when they interpret each other's behavior rather than giving the benefit of the doubt like most of us do with people we trust. Also, references or reminders of past conflicts can sting and create new pain.

Once a conflict has gone on a while, even if both parties move on and remain polite, the feelings of pain and mistrust usually linger under the surface, and are difficult to resolve.

Bringing up old hurts to resolve them can often backfire. At the same time, avoiding the issue altogether but holding onto resentment can poison feelings in the present.

Coping With Conflict at Family Meetings

So what do you do at a family gathering when there's someone there with whom you've had an unresolved conflict? Just be polite.

Contrary to how many feel, a family gathering is not the time to rehash old conflicts, as such conversations often get messy before they get resolved— if they get resolved.

Be polite, redirect conversations into areas that may cause conflict, and try to avoid the person as much as possible.

Even if everyone else fails to follow this advice, if you are able to focus on handling your end of the conflict in a peaceful way, you can go a long way in minimizing battles at family gatherings and promoting peace.

You may be surprised by how much of a difference this can make in the overall feel of your family get-togethers and your personal feelings and stress level leading up to them. 

How to Deal With Family Conflict

In the future, you can take one of three paths.

Try to Resolve the Conflict

At a time when all the family isn't gathered, ask the person if they'd like to discuss and resolve what happened between you. If (and only if) you and the other person seem to want to resolve things and are open to seeing one another's point of view, this could be a constructive idea.

Seeing where each of you may have misunderstood the other or behaved in a way you would change if you could, offering sincere apologies , and in other ways resolving the conflict can heal the relationship for the future.

Forgive and Forget

If it looks like such a civil meeting of the minds is unlikely, don't push it. It's probably a good idea to try to forgive the other person and let it go.

Forgiving doesn't mean opening yourself up to feel wronged again; it only means that you let go of your feelings of resentment and anger.

Forgiving past hurts can be challenging, but research suggests it can play an important role in mental health. Research suggests it can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.

You can be careful in what you expect from this person in the future without actively harboring resentment, and you'll be the one to benefit the most.

Minimize or Cut Off Contact

If what the other person did was abusive and there's absolutely no remorse or reason to expect things to be different in the future, you can severely limit your dealings with this person or cut off contact altogether .

This is typically a last-resort choice, but in cases of abuse, it's sometimes a necessary one to make for your own emotional health.

Cutting off contact with a family member can be tough, but sometimes it's necessary. Research has shown that for many, it can be the right choice. In one study, 80% of those who had ended a relationship with a family member said that the decision positively affected their life and well-being.

What This Means For You

Dealing with family conflict can create stress, especially if unresolved issues come up during family gatherings. Be polite in family meetings, but maintain your boundaries. Talking it out might help, or you might opt to move on or cut them out of your life. The key is to manage the situation in a way that doesn't produce unnecessary stress, conflict, and additional hurt.

Widmer ED, Girardin M, Ludwig C. Conflict structures in family networks of older adults and their relationship with health-related quality of life .  J Fam Issues . 2018;39(6):1573-1597. doi:10.1177/0192513X17714507

Leo K, Leifker FR, Baucom DH, Baucom BRW. Conflict management and problem solving as relationship maintenance . In: Ogolsky BG, Monk JK, eds.  Relationship Maintenance: Theory, Process, and Context. Advances in Personal Relationships . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2019:194-214. doi:10.1017/9781108304320.011

Weir K.  Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health.   American Psychological Association  2017:48(1) 30.

Toussaint LL, Shields GS, Slavich GM.  Forgiveness, stress, and health: A 5-week dynamic parallel process study . Ann Behav Med . 2016;50(5):727–735. doi:10.1007/s12160-016-9796-6

Blake L.  Parents and children who are estranged in adulthood: a review and discussion of the literature: review and discussion of the estrangement literature .  J Fam Theory Rev . 2017;9(4):521-536. doi:10.1111/jftr.12216

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

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Common family issues & how to deal with them, from experts.

Sarah Regan

No family is perfect, but for people whose family life has never been outright "bad," it can be tricky to spot family issues as they arise. Family problems are much more than abuse or addiction, for example, and include a host of different things that affect every member of a family. Here's how to spot family issues and deal with them, according to experts.

What are family issues? 

Family problems or issues include any sort of dynamic, behavior, and/or pattern that disrupts the household or family at large. They can range from smaller, more common challenges like clashing personalities or divvying up household chores, to more intense issues like having a narcissistic parent , abuse, or intergenerational trauma, according to licensed psychotherapist  Babita Spinelli, L.P.

The main thing with any family issue is that it creates stress and tension within the family, which in turn negatively affects the members of that family, particularly if there are young children involved.

Types of family issues:

Clashing and/or toxic personalities.

Starting off basic, it's far from uncommon for a family to have clashing personalities. Perhaps siblings don't get along with one another, or one child doesn't get along with one or both parents, psychotherapist  Annette Nuñez, Ph.D., LMFT, tells mbg.

This can go a big step further when you're dealing with someone who displays narcissistic tendencies or other toxic traits , Spinelli adds, which introduces a bunch of other issues into the family unit, such as gaslighting or explosive fighting.

Poor communication

Nuñez and Spinelli both note that lack of open and healthy communication is at the root of many more general family problems. As Spinelli explains, if it's really difficult to actually speak to a family member, if there are trust issues , if they dismiss you, or issues get swept under the rug, those are all family issues surrounding communication.

Heavy pressure from parents

Perfectionism within a family can have extremely negative effects on children and their self-worth. As Nuñez notes, when parents shame or dictate how children should feel or be, it can take a toll on their ability to grow as individuals. "Parents do need to have some boundaries but not when it gets to the point where it's emotionally abusive," she explains.

Things like conditional love, or a deep sense of pressure to meet the expectations of your family, indicate some family issues, Spinelli adds. It could even lead to what's known as golden child syndrome .

Different parenting styles

One of the biggest hurdles of parenting as a couple is figuring out how to combine your parenting styles in an effective way. When you can't, it can cause some problems.

"It can cause a lot of tension when parents aren't on the same page with parenting," Nuñez tells mbg. And if you're dealing with extended family, Spinelli adds, having the input of in-laws when it comes to your parenting can also cause some problems.

So many families will deal with challenges surrounding finances, budgeting, and employment. Spinelli says money problems can include one parent making all the money and feeling burdened, not having enough basic funds for what you need, generational issues around poverty or gambling, and so much more. Money touches most areas of our life, and if there are issues here, the effects will be felt within any family.

Managing the household

It might seem juvenile, but chores really matter. If one person is carrying the weight of maintaining the household , that's a lot of responsibility and pressure. Nuñez notes it's important for household labor to be divided up in a fair and age-appropriate way, so one parent doesn't feel taken advantage of, and children begin learning how to take care of themselves.

Unchecked addiction or mental health issues

If a parent (or even a child) is dealing with mental health issues or addiction, that can cause a huge rift within a family unit. It's important for those things to not only be addressed but also talked about in an open and honest way.

As Nuñez explains, "If a parent feels like they're hiding mental illness or any type of substance abuse from a child, kids pick up on that. They pick up on those nonverbal cues of inconsistency, and children do need consistency to have a strong family foundation and feel secure."

Constant arguing

If you grew up thinking constant arguing was normal, according to Spinelli, it's very much not. "Some people don't realize that the constant bickering and arguing is actually an issue—they're just so used to it. They don't realize that when there's yelling or screaming and arguing, that actually creates stress and tension."

It's not uncommon, but yes, divorce certainly does disrupt a family unit and can cause problems when it's swept under the rug. "You'd be surprised how many people haven't processed divorce in the family," Spinelli says, adding, "It really does impact how you see relationships, and models fears around relationships, and often people don't even talk about it in the family."

While it can be hard to avoid, distance within a family can cause a lot of issues around expectations and boundaries, according to Spinelli. For example, as the holidays approach, there are often arguments around who's visiting whom, why someone has decided not to visit that year, and so on, she explains.


" Codependency comes in all shapes and sizes," Spinelli tells mbg. While some instances of codependency are mild, the more enmeshment you find within a family, the more the individual members of that family will have a hard time distinguishing their own wants, needs, and desires, she says.

Scheduling conflicts

Nuñez notes that another common family issue is scheduling conflicts. If one or more family members has a busy schedule, it can be hard to connect together and make time for each other. This can look like one parent who works long hours and is rarely home during the day, or issues with scheduling as children get more involved with extracurriculars, she explains.

Intergenerational trauma

Last but not least, intergenerational trauma is a huge, often unaddressed family problem that stems back through generations. According to Spinelli, if past generations experienced things like extreme poverty, racial trauma, sudden death, addiction, mental health issues, and so much more, all of that can be passed down through generations.

"If something has happened in the previous generation, and that family member never dealt with it, that fight-or-flight and what they went through seeps into the other family members," Spinelli says.

How family issues affect us.

There are so many ways all of the aforementioned family issues can affect the members of that family, particularly children in their formative years of life. For example, "Children may start having behavioral issues, which then in return causes parents to get upset and the kids act out more," Nuñez explains. And that's just one more immediate example.

Our childhood experiences play out in adulthood through attachment wounds , as we bring those dysfunctional patterns into our adult relationships, she adds. "Let's say a parent leaves at a developmental age where a child needs a parent, for example. That brings up abandonment issues ," she notes.

Overall, a significant number of unaddressed family issues can make people feel that they don't have true safety in their lives, Spinelli says. "It's going to lead into attachment issues. Maybe they've dealt with abuse, neglect, abandonment, which has created an insecure attachment . They may also become an avoidant because they've never been modeled unconditional love by their primary caregiver," she explains.

Signs of family issues:

  • Difficulty with open, honest, and healthy communication
  • Frequent fights or bickering
  • Frequent yelling and screaming
  • Passive-aggressive behavior
  • An absent parent or parents (physically and/or emotionally)
  • Abuse of any kind (physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse )
  • Codependent behavior and/or enmeshment
  • Struggles around finances or employment
  • Perfectionism or high standards within the family
  • Disagreements on household chores, parenting styles, etc.
  • Tension in the household for no clear reason
  • Difficulty trusting family members

What to do if you're dealing with family issues:

Identify what the specific issue is..

If you're getting the sense that you're dealing with some family dysfunction, the first thing you'll want to do is get clear on what specifically you're dealing with. Is it controlling parents ? Scheduling conflicts? Lack of communication?

Whatever the issue, Nuñez and Spinelli both note recognizing it is the first step. From there, you can begin processing how you want to bring it up to your family members, which brings us to our next point.

Talk about it.

Nothing gets solved by sweeping it under the rug, and family issues are no exception. Nuñez and Spinelli both say you'll want to address any issues weighing on your mind, even if it's not easy.

"Give yourself permission to say 'Hey, I feel angry or resentful, and I need to talk about this,'" Spinelli says. And as Nuñez notes, you can soften the blow using language that's not directed at them, opting for "I" statements, rather than "you" statements (i.e., "I feel sad when you miss dinner," instead of "You always miss dinner; you're so inconsiderate.")

Nuñez also adds that it's a good idea to pick a low-stress time when you can give each other your undivided attention and energy. (So, probably not around the holidays.)

Consider seeking professional help.

Once you've aired out some of your concerns, it may be necessary to ask for the help of a professional. Whether you opt for individual therapy, couples' therapy , or family therapy is up to you and your family, but any of them can certainly help in understanding how family problems have affected you—and how to deal with them.

"And even if a family doesn't go to therapy, it's important for every person to feel like they have a voice in their family, and to speak up, and to really voice what they need within that unit," Nuñez says.

Set boundaries.

And last but certainly not least, when all else fails, boundaries with family are a necessity in keeping a family dynamic as healthy as possible for everyone. "Really think about the ways you can set boundaries and give yourself permission," Spinelli says.

Whether you opt out of going to every family gathering, keep your distance from family members who make you uncomfortable or angry, or simply tell a family member when their behavior is unacceptable to you, Spinelli says you're completely in your right to do so.

The bottom line.

No family is without a little dysfunction. After all, it was spiritual icon Ram Dass who once said, "'If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family."

But no matter how many problems your family seems to be facing, all it takes is one of you to identify the problems at hand, work through them, and break the chain for future generations.

Sarah Regan author page.

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.


7 Most Common Family Problems And How to Solve Them

Swarnakshi Sharma

Family is life, they are everything we need when we’re in trouble or we just need support. Family is the one that has our back and the one we count on as we celebrate our success or mourn our losses.

Family laughs with us, cries with us, but is always ready to support us whenever we need it. This doesn’t mean that families don’t have problems.

Each family is unique and each family has its problems and issues. But some most common family problems plague each family alike. In this blog, I’ll explain the common problems of a family and what you can do to resolve them.

Let’s begin, shall we?

7 Most Common Family Problems And Solutions

1. distance.

Distance, whether of work or emotionally, can take a heavy toll on a family and put a strain on the family relationship. If you have kids, then distance – often for an extended period – can be challenging to bear through.

If you travel and cannot change the distance, then you can take steps such as nightly video chats, playing online games, or watch movies online together to help curb the distance.

Issues can also arise if you’re not keeping enough distance, too. Spending too much time with the family can also become a problem. Every relationship, even a happy and successful family , needs space, even if you’re a stay-at-home parent.

Solution: Get some space for yourself. Engage in a productive hobby or do something you love. Too much distance and/or not enough distance can put a strain on a family relationship.

2. Parenting Disagreements

Every parent has a different view when it comes to raising their child. For many, how they raise their children can come from their own childhood experiences and upbringing. If you and your partner disagree on parenting styles then it’s a good time to talk it out. Discuss the pros and cons and understand their views on your parenting style .

Solution: If you and your partner are having disagreements on each other’s parenting styles then you need to learn to compromise. It is better to raise your children keeping in mind both parents’ values.

3. Communication

Most disagreements, fights, and arguments are caused by poor communication or lack of communication. Adults and children all need space to explain their problems in all fairness. Making assumptions, even in the case of a family, is not the right thing to do.

A common problem with a blended family can be a lack of communication. Having a step-parent, step-sibling can be disconcerting at first, and openly communicating might be a problem in the beginning.

Solution: Many teenage children refuse or hesitate to express their emotions fearing ridicule or shame. Explain to the family that each of them is welcome to express their honest views. Encourage them to communicate openly and fairly. Even parents and grandparents are entitled to their views.

4. Arguments And Conflicts

As I mentioned in the previous point, disagreements, conflicts, and fights are a part of a family dynamic. We all are entitled to our opinion however, arguments and conflicts can damage relationships within a family if not resolved in time. Emotions should not get the better of you during arguments. We may say something hurtful even without meaning to.

Arguments are not a bad thing at all. They are normal but if they get out of hand then they could be a problem.

Solution: Instead of focusing on the words, focus on the why of the other person’s actions and behavior. If the disagreement is turning into a fight, call a time-out and come back to the point when you and the others have had time to cool down.

5. Money Problems

One of the biggest stressors in any relationship can be finances. Financial stress can raise tension and create dissonance in a family relationship. Arguments about money and money management are common family problems that need to be addressed.

Solution: However, there are many ways to deal with financial stress including creating a monthly budget. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses – on either side – can also help. Financial troubles test a relationship in ways not many things do. If you and your partner are open to solve the issues together, you can get through tough times together.

6. Rebellious Children

A common problem between parents and children comes when children become rebellious and refuse to listen to their parents.

From raising toddlers to teens, times can certainly be challenging. Rebellious children can test your patience and will push all your buttons. In such situations, remember that while you may not be able to control your children’s actions, you can control how to teach them the consequences of their actions.

Solution: Set a positive example of how you react to your emotions. If you are dealing with an angry teenager , then you can try listening to their grievances and discuss with them, offering them advice only if they ask you for it. One of the best ways your child can learn is by making mistakes.

Let them. As a team, you and your partner can offer them support and help when you see them flounder.

7. Work-Life Balance

Another common family problem can be not having a healthy work-life balance . With both sets of parents working more and more, it can create a certain problem when it comes to balancing work and life. The need to provide for the family and the want to spend time with them can cause an unhealthy work-life routine.

Solution: One of the best solutions to this common family problem is to leave work at work and focusing on family when off work. Make time for family when it comes to family time. If possible, delegate tasks at work so that you are not too overworked.

It is also important to remember to spend time on yourself as well. Also, with a better work-life balance , you’ll be able to focus better on work and family, at their respective times.

Tips To Solve Common Family Problems  

Some additional tips to help you solve day-to-day common family problems are; 

1. Try to spend time with family members. It’s OK when each family member has different activities and interests that can make it hard for others to find time to spend with one another, but try to schedule events and activities to try with each other.

2. It’s important to have open (and honest) communication between family members so that there is no misunderstanding. Encourage each other to share their thoughts and feelings and make sure that no one feels rejected or judged for expressing their feelings.

3. Each member of the family needs to feel represented, heard and validated. In a family, each member needs to have equal power in decision-making. Once a member realizes that they are losing their representation or is not feeling safe to express their concern, then it could create conflicts.

4. In every relationship (yes, family relationships too), there could be unresolved feelings between each other. Sort of a leftover from the last argument, conflict, or disagreement. These unresolved feelings can also hinder further growth within the family. Here, you need to make sure that all past disagreements are resolved with no hard feelings left between the members.

5. The biggest mistake we do is not giving each other space in the family. And I’m not talking about privacy for once. It’s good to be together, but it’s also good to spend some time apart from each other. When you’re constantly in the presence of each other, it increases the risk of lashing out unnecessarily. All the pent-up negative feelings might be taken out on each other if there’s no space granted. 

How Family Therapy Can Help?

Many studies over the years have explored the importance of counseling and therapy when it comes to improving family relationships . Family and couples counseling help in understanding each other, resolve conflicts easily and come up with effective solutions.

With more and more therapy platforms going online, you can find the perfect family therapist for you and your family from the comfort of your own home. Even when dealing with separated and divorced parents, online therapy can be helpful.

Book Your First Therapy Session

Final Thoughts…

All families go through turbulent times and the above common family problems can plague all families – divorced, separated, or blended families. But this doesn’t mean that there is no solution to help resolve family problems. 

Understanding what causes the problems to arise in the first place, the different kinds of family problems, and how you can control them before they get out of control can help you prevent family conflicts and disagreements in the future. 

I hope with the above-mentioned common family problems and solutions, you can improve your family relationships and learn how to prevent these common family problems from turning destructive and ruining family relationships from within. 

For more, you can write to us at [email protected] or DM us on social media. You can also comment with your thoughts and any tips you have when it comes to resolving family problems below. 

Remember to always be kind to each other.

12 Effective & Mindful Ways To Navigate Difficult Family Relationships

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About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.


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How to manage and resolve family conflicts.

Kate Skurat

Table of Contents

Being part of a family can be pretty beneficial as it brings you love, security, and support. Family members who understand and appreciate you can help you overcome many challenges that life throws at you. But sometimes, there can also be conflict .

It’s common for family members to have disagreements. While conflicts are rather natural, healthy, and unavoidable, when they remain unresolved or escalate, they can become a significant cause of stress and problems in relationships.

Family conflicts can be particularly distressing because they are so deeply personal. You may feel tied to your family and unable to distance yourself or let go. Besides, when certain problems arise over and over again for many years, it can be easy to get stuck in familiar patterns of interaction.

If conflicts have become a problem in your family and you’re struggling to find ways to resolve them, this article will give you some tips that might help.

We also asked Tiffany Lovins , a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Calmerry , to share some insights into this subject. But before we tell you how to deal with family conflicts, let’s first take a quick look at some of the most common causes.

Causes of family conflict

“ Belonging to any part of a group or system naturally creates an environment that is rich with individual differences in wants, needs, beliefs, and values, ” explains Tiffany and goes on, “ Our own family system is no different in this regard and is often even more complicated due to the closeness of these relationships and the interdependence that exists in a family unit. ”

Tiffany also notes that the underlying causes of conflict may not be obvious: “ There are several primary causes of family conflict that are most often experienced, though they all hold an underlying theme regardless of the topic at hand. The top causes for conflict are often finances, child-rearing, and discipline, involvement of in-laws, sibling rivalry, or push for autonomy within the family unit.”

Belonging to any group creates room for disagreements

“Regardless of the cause, all contain an underlying theme of incongruency in expectations and communication that ultimately lead to conflict in these areas. ”

Lack of communication

One of the most common factors that trigger conflict in a family is a lack of open communication . Without effective communication, it becomes difficult for family members to make sure that their needs are met, and their boundaries are respected.

The lack of communication may also make a person feel like their needs and desires are not worth sharing. As a result, family members may get stuck in a vicious circle where previous communication problems create new ones .

Family duties

Family conflicts also often stem from responsibilities. Misunderstandings may arise from the way family members divide household chores and other responsibilities.

For instance, there might be arguments regarding who is supposed to take care of children or elderly family members . Although these are often small conflicts, they may last for a long time if left unresolved.

Disagreements related to financial issues can have a severely destructive impact on all kinds of relationships, including those between romantic partners and family members. Spouses and siblings often argue over money management. And the situation may get even more difficult if there are any inheritance issues in the family.

Without open communication, people act based on assumptions and emotions

Differences in values

This is a very common cause of conflict between romantic partners and between parents and their children. People may hold different opinions regarding politics, morals, culture, etc. There is often a greater risk of this as children shift into developmental stages, where strengthening their independence and identity take center stage.

As a result, partners or family members may lose the sense of unity, and the whole family dynamics may shift in a negative direction.

Blended families

When two families start to live together, they enter a risky area because the more people are involved, the more likely things may go wrong.

Given that even people who’ve shared the same roof for years may have serious conflicts, it’s no surprise that the situation might get more complicated when introducing new people – each with their unique needs, views, and habits.

This can be further complicated if the children have multiple households where different expectations and rules are held.

Goals and expectations are out of sync

“ There are often unspoken rules, norms, and beliefs about everyone’s role in the family and resulting expectations attached to each role ,” explains Tiffany Lovins , “ When these expectations and needs of the individual are not openly communicated and aligned, it can result in each member reacting on assumptions and emotions, thus creating a breeding ground for conflict. ”

The counselor adds, “ Once this is put into motion, each individual tends to resort to their default communication style, which further alienates each person from the other. Some may become passive and shut down. Others may attack or respond aggressively. ”

Tiffany notes that this way, the mutual goals of the family can be lost in the process. And this increases the vulnerability of each to blame and attack rather than partnering together to address concerns.

“ Identifying and stating openly that the mutual goal is always to create a space of health and happiness for each individual and the family can be a great starting point for difficult conversations, ” comments Tiffany.

How to resolve family conflicts

Family members are arguing

No matter what caused a particular argument, it’s important to know how to prevent further escalation and minimize the probability of such conflicts happening in the future.

Here are the 10 essential tips for navigating family conflicts and improving your communication skills.

1. Accept what you can and cannot control

No matter how much you may want to, you cannot control the behavior of others. But you can control how you respond . Think of the conflicts you’ve had in the past, how you reacted, and what the outcomes were.

If the results didn’t match your expectations, reflect on your approach and if it accurately reflected your intended need or request in a way that maintains your self-respect and the respect of the relationship. If not, try responding differently next time, and hopefully, it will have a more positive effect.

Changing the way you respond makes you less predictable, making it harder for others to trigger or manipulate you into conflict. Suppose you have engaged in communicating as effectively as you can, and it is still not well received. In that case,  this may indicate a need to redefine the boundaries and expectations in this relationship .

2. Let any anger subside

It’s better to let things calm down before trying to resolve a conflict so that you can have a rational and constructive conversation. When emotions are high, the functional part of our brains goes offline, and it truly makes it hard to have a reasonable discussion with effective solutions . Try talking in a calm tone and put any emotions aside.

If you try to resolve a conflict while people are angry and lashing out, such attempts may fail or even worsen the situation further. Remember, the goal here is not to win an argument but to find a healthy and mutually beneficial resolution.

3. Try to understand other family members’ perspectives

It’s important to give other family members a chance to express their views without being interrupted. And you should also request an opportunity to do the same

Listen actively: try to understand things from other peoples’ perspectives and then identify what you could do differently to help resolve the conflict. Listening to others and having empathy is a way to be fair and gain valuable insights. It’s not about submitting or caving to the demands of others.

4. Understand how it affects the whole family

It’s easy to get caught up in a conflict without realizing how much it’s affecting those around you. For example, when parents argue, children can often pick up on their stress and mood changes, even if they try to hide them.

However, when the family members involved in a conflict understand how it’s hurting the rest of the family, they’re more likely to be open to finding a resolution.

Empathy is important

5. Use “I” instead of “you”

When you’re attempting to resolve a conflict, “you”-statements may sound like accusations, triggering a defensive response and making it harder to connect.

Use “I”-statements and talk about how you feel instead. You’ll be less likely to trigger other people’s defenses while highlighting your personal perspective, your emotions, and the critical issues you need to work through.

6. Recognize that some issues aren’t worth fighting over

Not every issue is worth fighting over. For example, if your partner or kids did something trivial that bothered you, such as not putting the bins out, consider whether such an issue would be worth getting into an argument about.

Remember, accidents can happen, people can forget, everyone makes mistakes, and not everything is done to hurt you intentionally.

However, this doesn’t mean you should tolerate toxic or abusive behavior . And you have the right to be concerned and speak up if you often moderate yourself because of the fear of other family members.

7. Try reaching out rather than withdrawing

If you see other family members as a threat, you may withdraw as a way to protect yourself. However, isolating yourself can prolong the issues between you and make it harder to resolve the conflict.

So, when you feel like withdrawing, try being the bigger person and reaching out instead. Taking a risk and making the first move often pays off, giving you and other family members a chance to resolve things and reconnect.

8. Work as a team

A healthy family is a solid unit, but families consist of multiple people . Even couples without children may run into conflicts of interest. And the situation may not get any easier if people have children or live with other relatives.

To ensure mutual understanding and support, it’s important to agree on common goals and everyone’s individual contribution.

“ Making an effort to have intentional conversations about expectations of each other and each person’s role in meeting these goals is critical, especially as each individual evolves (and so do their needs and capabilities), ” explains Tiffany Lovins.

9. Seek professional help and support if needed

For many people, family is a major part of their lives, and they consider it worth investing in to get it right. Seeking impartial guidance and the help of an expert can help you and your family work through any challenges effectively.

Whether it’s relationship therapy to help build a healthy romantic relationship or online counseling to improve your anger management skills, there’s professional support available for all types of issues.

Those stuck in toxic relationships can also benefit from emotional abuse help .

10. Minimize or end contact completely if nothing helps

While it often pays off to reach out rather than withdraw, some conflicts are simply unresolvable, and you’re better off minimizing or ending contact entirely.

This applies particularly to situations where abuse has occurred, and you expect it could continue in the future. Ending contact is usually the last option, but it’s worth considering if your or your loved one’s health and well-being are at risk.

If you’re a victim of abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline . If you’re in immediate danger, please call 911.

While family conflicts can cause considerable distress and anxiety , finding a healthy resolution is often possible. Remember to let things cool off first and try to consider other family members’ perspectives. Improving your conflict resolution skills is a worthwhile endeavor that could help you in many areas of your life.

If you need additional support, seeking the help of a professional is always a wise choice. Here at Calmerry , our online therapists are ready to work with you individually to resolve any emotional problems you have and improve your mental well-being.

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Family Problems? What Causes It And The 6 Best Solutions

  • Updated October 11, 2021

No two families are alike, but the fact that every family experiences conflict in some capacity is undeniable. Even those with the closest bonds and strong emotional IQs are not exempt.

Family issues can strain relationships, so handling them tactfully and being intentional is essential.

According to the  American Psychological Association , part of the strive for happiness involves a keen knowledge of coping with trouble.

Before jumping straight into the resolution process, it is important to know and understand the small details that make up family problems on a larger scale.

Common causes of family problems

Each incident may be isolated, and there are some common family problems that yours may never encounter.

However, understanding the following will help you become more well-rounded in terms of your capacity to identify triggers or red flags and help you mold into an existing family structure outside your own, say through marriage, for example.

1. Financial troubles

Money is the root of quite many scenarios in life. It can be a source of stress, opportunity, comfort, or pain. Money will likely fill each of those roles throughout your life in some way, shape, or form.

When money problems become family problems, however, that can create new challenges.

When two people get married, they choose how to handle money and their finances. They can combine them, keep them separate, or a combination of the two.

However, if one or both parties are not transparent, money can cause fights.

If each spouse has their own credit card, for example, and one is maxing it out and not paying it down, this can cause strife. Not only has this spouse withheld pertinent information, but they have potentially damaged marital financial health as well.

You can see where this can be problematic

In another example, in families where adult children are unable to self-start, it can cause a burden and subsequent trouble.

If this manifests itself in the parents continuing to fund their child, that will take its toll, specifically if one parent does not agree with this plan.

2. Too much distance

When logistics are not on your side, family relationships can suffer. Putting many miles in between loved ones requires heightened attention towards nurturing the relationship in non-physical ways. 

Additionally, there will be missed events, holidays spent apart, and major life moments that people are excluded from because of distance. All these examples, although they are expected, can wear down bonds over time.

There can also be a distance between family members who are not physically away from each other, which can also cause family problems.

Distance is created when people allow life, time, and the unimportant details of their daily grind to pull them away from their family members.

Emotional space can be more challenging to navigate in some cases than physical space because the feelings are slowly built up over time, and it can be easy for them to go unnoticed from day to day.

3. Children

One of the biggest choices you will make as an individual is if children fit into your life.

Whether you do this alone or within a partner, the decision is significant. And no matter how much thought you put into it, adding kids into your life can come with many unpredictable elements.

Family members are sure to give unsolicited opinions and advice, which can be unsavory to receive.

Throughout various stages of life, children will also put an unintentional strain on your relationship with your partner and your relationship with yourself. Having children can be a great source of conflict when a parent feels they have lost their own identity due to growing their family.

Additionally, it can be problematic when t wo partners forget about each other because they have been devoted and focused solely on their child/children.

4. Dishonesty

One of the biggest ways family issues can arise is through dishonesty .

Unfortunately, since family networks can extend into so many branches, this is more common than you may think. When an untruth is discovered, the person at the root of the lie has not only been deceitful, they have reframed how their extended family views them and their character.

Dishonesty can occur in the form of an outward lie, withholding information, or a white lie that the teller assumes will be insignificant to those who receive it.

Usually, your inner circle of the family will be your most significant support. If you choose to compromise that blind trust by being dishonest, you should expect a collapse in the structure for an extended period while everyone sorts out their emotions.

Moving is one of the most stressful things that an individual can do, and when this event involves family, that certainty is even more evident. Some examples of how moving can lead to family problems are:

  • Having to move away from familiarity into an unknown situation
  • Moving in with a significant other for the first time
  • Leaving the nest to go away to college
  • Having to move back in with family as an adult amid personal problems like divorce, job loss, etc.

In each of these examples, the opportunity for trouble exists because moving comes with expectations, which can contribute to family issues when left unmet, or even worse, unspoken.

How to deal with common family problems

As with everything, there are many ways, both healthy and unhealthy, to tackle family issues head-on.

According to the  National Institute of Mental Health , identifying the root causes of problems is a logical first step in ensuring mental health is a priority during periods of conflict resolution.

1. Remain calm

Almost nothing can be accomplished in an impactful and healthy way if emotions are running high. Be aware of your thoughts, words, and actions, and approach resolution with as much calm as possible .

2. Be objective

Allowing yourself to spiral out of control and make an isolated issue into something bigger than it needs to be will also heighten conflict. Stick to the issue at hand and be intentional in your plan to navigate your challenges.

3. Be an active listener

This means not interrupting the other person during conversations, no matter how tough they are. Being an active listener also means that your ears are open for the sake of truly hearing what the other person is saying, not waiting impatiently until it is your turn to share your side.

4. Use mirror style communication

Clarity is essential when dealing with common family problems because when the dust settles, you likely still want the relationship to be salvageable.

This communication style works in this way; when one person is done speaking, the other person mirrors how they heard what was said.

  • “I want to downsize our home to work on our financial problems.”
  • ‘What I hear you say is that you think a more modest dwelling will allow us to get our money back on track.”

5. Do not hold back

It is important to lay down all your cards on the table. This is especially true in situations like family therapy.

Being truthful but tactful while receiving professional help allows the therapist to do their job in the most appropriate way possible because they are working with all the information available.

Holding back for the sake of someone else’s feelings can hurt their feelings in the long run when what has been left in the dark comes to light.

An affordable and convenient option to find a suitable therapist is online where you can speak with a therapist from the comfort of your own home. 

6. Establish boundaries

Sometimes, to deal with family issues, you must establish boundaries . Even if this is not your desire, it may be your necessity.

In an example like addiction, for instance, your love may not lead you to create a boundary with an afflicted family member, but your desire for them to work through their troubles should override that and help you gain comfort establishing and maintaining boundaries.

Family issues are part of having a family relationship, and they cannot be avoided. However, they can be dealt with more gracefully if you, as an individual, work on your emotional and interpersonal skills.

If you cannot achieve peace on your own, you will have a battle trying to do so with others.

Being someone who respects differences, knows how to establish and manage expectations, and regularly checks in with loved ones will have a better shot at being a positive example when the time comes to handle strife within the system.

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5 ways to solve family problems

The 10 Most Common Family Problems and How to Deal with Them

Top 10 Common Family Problems and How to Deal with Them

If you are suffering from family problems that you can’t get away through, then you are not alone. Everyone suffers through that when living in a family. Marrying the person you love and starting a family is not a fairy tale after all. Some problems come across the journey, but there are also plenty of ways to handle those issues.

Every family has issues and the sooner we realise that there is no ‘perfect happy ending’ to any story, the better we will be at handling the situation. Every person has flaws and so does every family. But, the problems you might be facing are very common even if you think you have got the worst scenario of all.

Let’s see what are the most common family problems and how you can handle them.

1. Arguments All The Time

There are better fights that clear the air and then, there are bad ones ruining the environment for everyone. These sort of fight cracks up the relationships, and are so frustrating as well. Sometimes, in a relationship, it is all about how you are arguing instead of what you are arguing about.

So, it is better to stay calm, take a step back, and weight for the negative vibes to leave the room. If you are arguing with the same intensity as the other person, then there is no handling such family issues.

2. Parenting Decisions

Most of the time, family fights are all about how the kids should be raised. It all starts with the decision of whether to have or not have the kids. Moving on further, you might be fighting over the disciplinary training, schooling, religion, and lots of other things about the kid. It is okay to have a disagreement as you are two separate individuals but such family issues shouldn’t destroy your relationship.

Make a priority list and have a decent mature discussion about what should be done in that area. If you have made through this marriage, you can find your way through this.

3. Balancing Home and Work-Life

Life is unfair sometimes. You have dreams but to accomplish them you have to give up your family time sometimes. You do this for your family, but most of the time they don’t understand. It is not their fault.

You just need to manage your time a bit more. No need to be hard on yourself or the family. Just understand that the quality time that you spend with each other matters the most. So, take out some time for them as well.

4. Getting The Family Organised

It is hard enough to get yourself organised, now you have a family to take care of. When you have a partner and kids to manage, chaos is inevitable. And, sometimes it ends up badly.

So, it is better to seek a smart solution. Several apps let you manage your chores, make up a routine, and help with other things. Also, you can keep everyone around you motivated to help you and play the role in the family to avoid such family issues.

5. Lack of Proper Communication

It is fine when you are interested in making yourself clear to a colleague. But, you must not take the same practise at home. When there is miscommunication among family members, a lot of things go wrong. Communication is the issue of every relationship. If you are weak at it, relationships cannot grow.

If you are having trouble clearing things out, you must talk to them and sort out a solution. It is always better to communicate better than to miscommunicate.

6. Some Members Stress You Out

It can your wife, husband, siblings, kids, or anyone who is the source of your stress when you just enter the house. Personal clashes are always stressful and tough. Sometimes, they drive us crazy.

If you have some of these members at home, it is better to be ready before you enter the home. It hurts to face the surprising conflict than to be already ready for it. Give yourself time and understand that they are not going to change.

7. Dividing Up the Chores

When it is about chores, nobody enjoys them. But since they teach us many things. You can’t just avoid this. You got to teach your kids how they can play a role in the family and why they should. Though it is not an easy task there are ways to do it.

Make family rules and use parental control apps to control their screen time. Show them who is the boss and get them to share your burden for good.

8. Being Far from The Family

If you are not near to your family, it is a big stress for you. The holidays are the toughest times when you are not with them. Getting homesick can happen at any time.

You can video chat with them, talk to them most of the time to get rid of this homesickness. Make good friends around you who make you feel at home.

9. A Member Is Suffering from Mental Illness

When one of the family members is suffering from mental illness, it is one of the hardest family issues to handle. It is a serious issue and it can affect the family members with high intensity. But, these people need your support the most.

However, professional help is a must. You must not ignore the issue just because that person is a family member. Have patience and call for professional help whenever it is necessary.

10. Divorce in the Family

Divorce destroys a family. It is one of the really ugly family issues. The family structure is surely disturbed because of this. But, you must be there for your family and give them an ear or shoulder to cry one. You must not lash out on them or leave them at this hour of need.

Divorce is difficult for everyone. So, get help if you think you need it and be there for your family.

These are some of the most common family problems that you might be facing. Now that you know how to handle them, give your family the happy ending they deserve and have a peaceful life yourself

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Family Conflict Resolution: 6 Worksheets & Scenarios (+ PDF)

Conflict resolution family

It is perhaps unrealistic to expect that relationships remain harmonious all the time; occasional disconnections and disagreements are a fact of life that can help a family grow and move forward, accommodating change (Divecha, 2020).

Repeating patterns of conflict, however, can be damaging for family members, especially children, negatively affecting mental and physical wellbeing (Sori, Hecker, & Bachenberg, 2016).

This article explores how to resolve conflict in family relationships and introduces strategies and activities that can help.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Communication Exercises (PDF) for free . These science-based tools will help you and those you work with build better social skills and better connect with others.

This Article Contains:

How to resolve conflict in family relationships, 2 examples of conflict scenarios, 3 strategies for family counseling sessions, 6 activities and worksheets to try, a note on conflict resolution for kids, 3 best games and activities for kids, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.

“Families typically develop certain basic structural characteristics and interactive patterns that they utilize to respond to internal and external stressors.”

Goldenberg, 2017, p. 4

Built on shared assumptions and narratives that exist within the family structure, family members support the group as it adapts and copes with shifting environments and life events.

Such structures, at times, may support and even promote conflict that occurs within families. Indeed, rifts, clashes, and disagreements within the family can take many forms, including physical, verbal, financial, psychological, and sexual (Marta & Alfieri, 2014).

Therapy has the potential to help a family understand how it organizes itself and maintains cohesion, while improving how it communicates and overcomes problems that lead to conflict (Goldenberg, 2017).

As psychologist Rick Hanson writes, “a bid for repair is one of the sweetest and most vulnerable and important kinds of communication that humans offer to each other” (cited in Divecha, 2020).

Crucially, families can learn to navigate the inevitable tension and disconnection that arise from falling out of sync with one another (Divecha, 2020).

Repairing ruptures resulting from miscommunication, mismatches, and failing to attune to one another is vital for parenting and maintaining family union. But how?

While there are many ways to recover from and resolve conflict, the following four steps are invaluable for authentic repair (modified from Divecha, 2020):

  • Acknowledge the offense Try to identify and understand the hurt you’ve caused. Whether intended and with apparent good reason or not, this is a valuable opportunity to dial down your defenses and focus on how the other person is feeling.

Acknowledging the hurt without adding caveats is a powerful way to show humanity.

It can help to check your understanding, “Did I upset you? Help me understand how.” Your approach must be open and authentic; unless heartfelt, it risks escalating emotions.

  • Express remorse Sometimes, simply saying, “I’m sorry,” is enough, or at least an excellent place to start.

Take care though. Adding a comment, such as, “Well, you shouldn’t have done X,” weakens your expression of remorse, especially when dealing with children. They are learning from what you do – right and wrong.

Also, don’t go overboard. Being too quick to say sorry or going over the top with an apology can make it more about yourself than the person hurt.

  • Offer a simple explanation If the other person is ready to listen (neither too upset nor too angry), a brief explanation can clarify the thinking behind your actions.

Remember to focus on the other person’s experience rather than a litany of excuses for poor behavior. And avoid using this as an opportunity to add grievances or assign blame for issues that have arisen recently.

  • Learn and practice expressing your intentions to fix the situation and stop it from happening again. Be sincere. Say that you are sorry and mean it.

There is little point in apologizing and recovering from conflict if you intend to repeat the behavior.

Conflict is often avoidable. But if it isn’t, then it is possible to recover and maintain family relationships through authentic activities that repair damage (Divecha, 2020).

Relationship key

Family therapy can help resolve conflicts within the family unit through multiple routes, including:

  • Exploring various relationships that make up the family.
  • Bringing couples and families together to resolve interpersonal conflicts rather than treating them separately.
  • Focusing on interventions with entire families rather than individuals.
  • Establishing the role of dysfunctional families in individual mental health problems.

Family conflict can appear in all shapes and sizes. While minor disagreements between siblings may be resolved quickly, major rifts can form between child and parent, damaging previously strong bonds.

All relationships within a family can at one time or another descend into conflict. Two such examples include (modified from Goldenberg, 2017):

  • Conflict over money Bob and Tess are married with two children. In therapy, Tess claims that Bob is mean with his money: checking grocery bills and yelling at the cost of their children’s birthday presents. Along with other relationship issues, conflict had led them to sleep in separate rooms.

Bob argues he works hard for his money and gives her a generous amount each month, but Tess spends beyond their means.

During therapy, it became clear that Bob comes from a working-class family and was taught from an early age to live frugally. His long-standing beliefs underpin (but do not excuse) his outbursts.

In time, therapy helps them become more supportive of one another, giving up their underlying power struggles and successfully moving away from stereotypical gender roles.

  • Cultural and intergenerational conflict Despite Indira and Sanjay Singh moving to the United States while they were still at preschool age, they have retained the cultural and moral values of their place of birth: India. When their two children were born, they were also taught to be compliant and respect their parents, while friends from school were discouraged.

As the children grew older, it became clear that the conflict between the old and new culture was causing a rift, dividing children and parents. Despite reluctance from the parents, in time, all four attended family therapy and began to deal with cultural differences and expectations arising from multiculturalism.

Family therapy helped the clients recover from existing conflict in both cases, while strengthening family bonds to reduce future tension.

5 ways to solve family problems

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Conflict in family situations can be “chronic and unresolved,” cycling through “periods of emotional distance and closeness with intense negative feelings” (Metcalf, 2011, p. 45).

In family therapy, the many theories offer different lenses through which to view the world and, most importantly, help families manage and resolve conflict (Metcalf, 2011).

The following strategies can help protect the family from or cope with conflict in its many forms.

Build an environment of connection and understanding

Divecha (2020) suggests that by building an environment of connection and understanding, you can “create a family culture where rifts are expected and repairs are welcomed.”

Encourage clients to make small but vital changes to the family setting (modified from Divecha, 2020):

  • Watch out for the easily missed signs that indicate a child, young adult, or partner wishes to find a way to reconnect and recover from conflict.
  • Normalize requests, such as, “I need a repair” and “Can we have a redo?” that tell us a family member is ready to fix a damaged relationship.
  • Maintain awareness. If we think we may have caused upset or harm, circle back and check in with the other person.

Building a better environment through frequent repairs can catch problems early and reduce the likelihood of escalation.

Use “I” statements

How we say something can have a significant impact on what others hear. Encourage family members to express how they feel without blaming others, such as (modified from Goldenberg, 2017):

“I am hurt by what you said last night” rather than accusations, such as, “You were out of order last night.”

Speak directly to the therapist

There may be times during a therapy session when tension between family members heightens and the emotional intensity needs to be de-escalated (Goldenberg, 2017).

A helpful communication technique is to ask the family member talking to address the therapist directly. This refocus encourages the speaker to express themselves more calmly and allows the other person time and space to listen and respond under less pressure.

Conflict resolution narrative

The following activities focus on exploring family structures, beliefs, and problem-solving behavior to avoid or resolve conflict within the group.

Recognizing Family Narratives

Family narratives provide support for coping with upsetting events and recovering from conflict (Goldenberg, 2017).

Use the Recognizing Family Narratives worksheet to identify narratives that explain and justify the structure and interactive patterns that exist within the family.

The constructs we form can enable or inhibit how we cope with conflict and other life events within the family (Goldenberg, 2017).

Parenting With Purpose

Parenting can be difficult; it is easy to lose sight of what is important. Defining meaning and purpose for ourselves as parents and our children can offer a valuable compass for day-to-day decision-making (Hart, 2006).

The Parenting With Purpose worksheet is a helpful reminder of your values and purpose as a parent.

The answers to the questions can help you understand what kind of relationship you would like with your children and why.

What Is Working Within the Family?

While it is essential to identify and fix what is causing conflict within a family, it is equally valuable to recognize what is working.

Once we recognize where we are successful in a relationship, it can remind us that not everything is terrible. We are doing some things right, and we have something upon which we can build.

The What Is Working worksheet helps identify and share the positives in the relationships within the family.

Recognize that conflict doesn’t occur in the family all the time and encourage the activities that unite you as a group.

Meeting Our Family’s Needs

Sura Hart (2006, p. 175), former teacher and education project director for the Center for Nonviolent Communication, says that “you can find conflict in every human story, and in the conflict situation you can find the needs people are wanting to meet.”

Use the Meeting Our Family’s Needs worksheet to help each family member have their needs heard, understood, and, ultimately, accepted.

Consider Your Intentions

Words have the power to share love and anger. Without clear and conscious intention, it is possible to communicate unhelpful and even harmful messages (Hart, 2006).

Use the Consider Your Intentions worksheet to identify and understand your intentions and help you respect and care for other family members’ needs.

Perform an early check on your intentions before you engage with the other family member, especially if it has the potential to turn into conflict.

Using the answers, consider how you can show positive intentions and steer clear of harmful intentions, such as proving yourself right.

Seeing Family Conflict as a Problem to Solve

Conflict isn’t always to be avoided; clashes can be productive, stimulating learning, fostering understanding, and moving a relationship forward (Hart, 2006).

However, some conflict is unnecessary and avoidable, especially regarding daily tasks, such as tidying the house, going to bed, and completing chores.

Use the Seeing Family Conflict as a Problem to Solve worksheet to help recognize everyday actions as problems to overcome rather than points of contention.

14 Effective conflict resolution techniques – BRAINY DOSE

“Life is a series of mismatches, miscommunications, and misattunements that are quickly repaired” says family researcher Ed Tronick (cited in Divecha, 2020).

Children can learn from the family environment that conflict need not be out of proportion to the situation and may, ultimately, lead to positive change.

It helps when family relationships are overwhelmingly positive. Make sure to make “special time” available for each child, where they have control over what you do and for how long, writes Divecha (2020). Learn to show gratitude and appreciation for what the child does more readily without it becoming predictable and unthinking.

Conflict resolution for kids

Board games such as Monopoly, Checkers, and Life can be played as a pair or a family. The children see that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from their parents’ reaction to losing.

More physical, active games such as Tag or Hide and Seek allow the whole family to have fun, while, importantly, seeing each other having fun. Children need to experience their parents as humans with a wish to enjoy themselves. Parents benefit from experiencing their family laughing – a reminder that life is not all about duty and rules.

Quieter pastimes, including art and craft, can be a time to build and use mindfulness practices, considering colors, textures, and smells. Interactive activities such as making funny characters out of play dough or houses out of Lego is fun and beyond rules or feelings of failure.

Family conflict can often be avoided. The following resources help individuals gain a greater understanding of other family members’ needs and feelings.

  • Mind the Gap Identify and share the values you would like to exist within your family, such as love, trust, compassion, and teamwork.
  • Conflict at School Conflict outside the home can have an impact inside. Help your children to reflect on the relationships they have at school.

Additional reading and resources include:

  • Conflict Resolution in Relationships and Couples: 5 Strategies For more ideas on how to resolve conflict in other types of relationships, read our conflict resolution in relationships article.
  • 14 Conflict Resolution Strategies & Techniques for the Workplace This article about conflict resolution in the workplace is a helpful additional read, especially where the lines between family and work is blurred – working in the family business, working from home – these all can cause conflict so be sure to have a look at this article too.
  • 17 Positive Communication Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others communicate better, check out this collection of 17 validated positive communication tools for practitioners . Use them to help others improve their communication skills and form deeper and more positive relationships.

It is vital that families learn to survive – and even grow – under adverse conditions. The family unit faces daily challenges from outside and conflict from within that can upset the internal stability that rests upon existing narratives, shared beliefs, and sometimes mistaken assumptions (Goldenberg, 2017).

It can become less about preventing all conflict, which is impossible, and more about creating a family environment that reduces unnecessary friction, repairs rifts and misunderstandings, grows, and moves forward.

Our communication – what we say and how we say it – remains crucial and can improve over time with practice and an improved awareness of one another’s needs. Family members can also learn skills and techniques to improve self-regulation, resilience, and coping that strengthen internal structures.

This article introduces tools and worksheets that help remove avoidable conflict and manage and resolve it within the family unit, where disagreement is inevitable. Try them out with your clients or within your own family to improve engagement, strengthen relationships, and build a more supportive and resilient family structure.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Communication Exercises (PDF) for free .

  • American Psychological Association. (2011). Family interventions. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/practice-settings/intervention/family
  • Divecha, D. (2020, October 27). Family conflict is normal; it’s the repair that matter s. Greater Good. Retrieved October 4, 2021, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/family_conflict_is_normal_its_the_repair_that_matters
  • Goldenberg, I. (2017). Family therapy: An overview . Cengage Learning.
  • Hart, S. (2006). Respectful parents, respectful kids: 7 Keys to turn family conflict into co-operation . PuddleDancer Press.
  • Marta, E., & Alfieri, S. (2014). Family conflicts. In A. C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of quality of life and well-being research . Springer.
  • Metcalf, L. (2011). Marriage and family therapy: A practice-oriented approach . Springer.
  • Sori, C. F., Hecker, L., & Bachenberg, M. E. (2016). The therapist’s notebook for children and adolescents: Homework, handouts, and activities for use in psychotherapy . Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

5 ways to solve family problems

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Thank you for the resources on family conflict resolution. I am working with a family that is really challenged.

Susan Salenski

We have had major conflicts in the family with me, my husband, who is the stepdad, and my grown kids. One speaks to us but lives on the northern East Coast. Haven’t seen him in 5 years. The other grown child is my daughter. She has had no contact with us of any kind for 5 years. I look forward to learning how to defuse conflicts and then grow healthy relationships, with my kids especially.

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Regular Family Meetings to Solve Problems: some guidance to have a great experience

Regular Family Meetings to Solve Problems: some guidance to have a great experience

Written by Judith Richardson

Often Parents ask about the merits of holding regular family meetings.

In my experience they bring families together in a good way, prevent future problems and create warmth in the relationships. Children can feel a sense of belonging and importance if they are included in a safe forum for solving conflicts that inevitably arise. And if there are no problems to discuss, the time can be spent discussing general issues, sharing family values, and planning and reflecting on fun stuff such as family holidays and special occasions.

However, there are some traps to avoid, and tricks to help family meetings become more effective which I have outlined below.

Setting the Stage:

Always schedule meetings for a time that suits everyone and ensure it is a time when people feel fresh and relaxed (no-problem time.)

 I find the mornings are best as we are at our most relaxed and a Sunday late breakfast seems to work well too. Or if mornings are difficult due to the rush out the door to school and work, maybe finding a quiet time over the weekend would work well.

Remind your family ahead of time so they can plan their time and be prepared and do remember to reassure your children that this is a no-lose problem-solving event. (PET Session 6 & 7). 

It is important to have an agenda and if you have a lot to get through, break it up into two meetings. Too many items can overwhelm children. Invite your children to add items to the agenda – especially ahead of time and if you don’t get through your agenda reschedule, don’t rush or push to get finished.  Be open and inclusive by giving everyone an agenda (or use a whiteboard or other creative methods?)  For younger children you can use illustrations.

Set some guidelines together that everyone agrees to – maybe this could be the agenda for the first scheduled family meeting you have.  Some ideas might be to rotate who leads the meeting, how often and when they will be held, following up on last meetings to get feedback etc… 

Remember to get the kids excited about the potential of meetings so they are a family event that is looked forward to and a time where everyone comes together and trust is built.  

Holding Your Family Meeting:

  • Keep the time-frame short, on topic and snappy to accommodate differing attention spans. 
  • Make meetings fun and upbeat and don’t be afraid to use humour as it creates warmth and connection.  
  • Start with low level problems such as how to spend some time together, what to do with old toys or what to do for Christmas, on Sunday or birthday events etc., and build up your skills and your family’s confidence slowly. 
  • Only discuss problems that are pertinent to the whole family.  
  • As you will be using Method III, you will need to record outcomes – who is to do what by when etc.  (Method III, Step 5), and make a time for follow-up (Step 6.) that is visible for everyone to review – say on the fridge.  During the process use lots of active listening to your children’s needs and to any resistance (even the smallest amount of pushback should be attended to).
  • Make sure everyone is included – use gentle door openers to include everyone. “I’m interested in hearing from everyone, what are your thoughts…?”.
  • Remember the question “What will that do for me?” for deepening and clarifying everyone’s needs… Gold!  
  • Know ahead of time and be very clear about what your unmet needs are. 
  • Use positive I-Messages throughout to show your appreciation for their cooperation and willingness to spend time helping to sort out a few family issues.  “I really appreciate everyone’s input and the way we have been able to sort out these problems.” 
  • Remember the P.E.T. Workbook and Text have some excellent material on Method III. 

5 ways to solve family problems

When Meetings Are Getting Off Track:

  • If side issues appear you can note these for attending to at another time – stay focused. 
  • Keep using your whole suite of I-Messages to state your needs and direct the process, remembering to keep the tone positive. 
  • Watch for signs or signals that your children are experiencing overwhelm or ‘meeting fatigue’ and wrap it up with an agreement to reconvene at another agreed time. 
  • If the whole process feels stuck and you have listened then maybe it is better to reconvene and rethink the process in order to make sure you are clear about everyone’s needs. 
  • Get some coaching or advice from your P.E.T. Instructor if you are stuck. 

Some Traps – do not :

  • Hold Family problem solving meetings when you are tired, hungry, angry or stressed – (or when the kids are!) Method III requires an environment of goodwill. 
  • Make them too serious or drawn-out or you may find your children will not participate freely in the future.
  • Don’t use accusatory (You-Messages). This only sends a message of blame.            
  • Make them only to get parents’ needs met – consider everyone’s point of view.
  • Use these forums to solve problems that could be solved through ‘Modifying the Environment’ or ‘Modifying Yourself’ skills…
  • Use power or coercion to get kids on board or to move through Method III.
  • Give-up before everyone is onboard with mutually agreed solutions that meet their needs.  
  • Make it too formal – this can be stressful for you and your children.
  • Use bribery or threats to get your needs met. 
  • Use roadblocks and get preachy if you become frustrated – better to stop and regroup and learn from your mistakes than to keep beating a drum that nobody wants to hear.
  • Beat yourself up if it doesn’t go well.  Start another time with a smaller and lighter feeling agenda…

Holding Family Problem Solving Meetings regularly will have so many benefits for your whole family and raise trust and confidence within your relationships.  

As you ‘Model’ the Method III ‘No-Lose’ family problem solving skills you will create a template of fairness and democracy that will support your children in their other relationships and sustain them throughout their adult life. 

by Victorian P.E.T. Instructor 

Judith Richardson

Judith Richardson

Making changes doesn't have to be hard. Our programs teach us how to be real and authentic with ourselves and others. 1. Parenting Program P.E.T. It's rare to find a parent these days who isn't feeling stressed and tired from juggling life's demands. To benefit from P.E.T. you just need the desire to learn how to build warmer closer relationships with your children that will stand the test of teenagehood and beyond. P.E.T. is just the right balance of learning powerful and practical communication skills and a philosophy that will support you in creating harmony in your home. Parents graduate from their training feeling calmer more confident and competent to handle their parenting and lifestyle challenges. 2. Instructor Training: Becoming a BYB or P.E.T. instructor is one of the most rewarding things I have done. If you really want to become a Master Communicator, this is a great way to do it. I offer training in a variety of ways to allow flexibility to suit our busy lives. Please call to discuss.Be Your Best Program - a personal empowerment program for everyone: 3. Be Your Best A program just for you with the emphasis on taking more control of your life, becoming more assertive, and getting more of your personal needs met! A great program for anyone who wants to be more effective and highly recommended for parents also. “I discovered ways to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts and how to break certain patterns within my life. I feel more skilled in how to maintain deep personal relationships through honest and authentic communication.” Kim Victoria, Dandenong Ranges. 4. Instructor Refreshers: An important way for instructors to stay current and connected or to get personalised coaching to re-entering teaching. These can be 1:1 or in a small group, either in person or via Zoom. Whatever your needs, I look forward to talking with you and exploring the possibilities these wonderful programs offer. Warm regards, Judith Please call me at M:0416036961 or [email protected]

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Rely on Our Parenting Programs for More Positive Childcare

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All parents and guardians, even the most confident, may at some stage feel they could do with some advice and guidance when tackling everyday issues with young children and teenagers.

Regular Family Meetings to Solve Problems: some guidance to have a great experience

Holding Family Problem Solving Meetings regularly will have so many benefits for your whole family and raise trust and confidence within your relationships.

A Beautiful Saturday Morning Until…

A Beautiful Saturday Morning Until…

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Responding to her child's intense raw emotions, P.E.T. Instructor Melissa Strader explores her best choice of action even when she too felt like screaming!

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5 common family challenges around the holidays and how to navigate them, according to therapists

By Sara Moniuszko

Updated on: November 23, 2023 / 9:31 AM EST / CBS News

It's that time of year when families come together  to celebrate — or argue — over the holiday dinner table .

Experts say it's normal for this season to bring unique challenges with loved ones, but there are ways to cope with these stresses and make it through.

"While the holidays are often marketed as a very happy time to gather with family, this is not always the case," says Leanna Stockard, a licensed marriage and family therapist with mental health care company  LifeStance Health . "There are multiple challenges that families can face, and these challenges may be amplified around the holiday season where there is pressure to be 'happy.'"

To help you handle what may arise during your family gatherings this season, we asked therapists about the most common issues they see and how to navigate them.

Unmet expectations

Whitney Goodman, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of online support platform Calling Home , says one of the biggest issues she sees around the holidays revolves around expectations.

"Wanting the holiday season to be perfect or to be different than it normally is with their family — that's only natural given all the pressure and messaging that we have around the holidays," she says. 

How to navigate: Goodman recommends having an honest conversation with yourself and the people around you.

"Just saying, 'I'm going to expect my family members to behave the way that they always do. I'm not going to expect them to be different this week, just because it's the holidays.' And when I accept that I can prepare accurately for what's going to happen," she explains. "When people are able to get those expectations out of the way, it leads to a lot less disappointment and you can really control the outcome a lot better."

Stressful logistics

Trying to make everyone happy and managing complicated schedules can be really difficult for people, especially when talking about blended or large, extended families. 

"There's a lot of running around... (and this) can take the fun out the holiday season when it's so stressful," Goodman says.

How to   navigate:  Doing a bit of mental preparation can be helpful in staying calm. 

"There are going to be things that are always out of our control that we can't prepare for, but when you are a little bit more expectant of what's to come it makes it easier," Goodman says.

Rusty relationships

Interactions with extended or estranged family members around the holidays can also cause stress.

"For many people, it's the one time a year that they see these family members," says Alyssa Mairanz, owner and executive director of Empower Your Mind Therapy .

How to   navigate:  Don't be afraid to take the space you need, Mairanz says, adding that you can also focus on other people. 

"Put your energy towards engaging with those who are not as estranged or stress you out as much," she suggests. 

Before entering these situations, remember it's likely not the time to rehash old (or even current) problems. Instead, prepare to "just be cordial," Mairanz advises.

"Just because it's holiday time and family's around, it doesn't mean that you have any obligations towards reconciling things that you're not ready to reconcile," she says. 

Uncomfortable questions

Family members who are relentless in inquiring about our love lives, careers or life decisions can bring additional discomfort to the holidays. 

"This can especially be the case if any family members disagree about certain directions their loved ones have taken and have no problem with sharing that perspective with them," Stockard says.

How to navigate:  Boundaries can play a key role here, Stockard says.

"Boundaries can be physical, emotional (or) mental, and they can be set ahead of time or in the moment with your family members," she explains, while acknowledging they can be difficult to set with those closest to us. 

"If this is the case, I recommend accessing your support systems and talking to a family member that you trust to help you navigate through your difficulties and have an ally in the moment who can help reiterate that your boundaries deserve to be respected."

If boundaries prove too challenging, try redirecting or responding to unwanted questions or unsolicited advice vaguely, Mairanz suggests.

"Prepare yourself not to get into an argument and just respond to what the person is saying, knowing that any kind of further discussion is not really going to go anywhere," she says.

Political polarization

The holidays can also present the opportunity for uncomfortable conversations with outspoken family members, especially about politics and values, with the most recent  Election Day right behind us and the 2024  presidential race picking up steam.

"If there is a difference of opinion amongst family members, conflict or discomfort may arise," Stockard says.

How to navigate: "It is more than OK to decide that you do not want to engage in political discussions at family gatherings and ask your family members to respect your decision ahead of time," Stockard suggests. 

If your request is not honored prior to a gathering, you have the choice to not attend, she says. If a line is crossed in the moment, you can choose whether or not to engage in the conversation and reiterate your boundary.

Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at CBSNews.com. Previously, she wrote for USA Today, where she was selected to help launch the newspaper's wellness vertical. She now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch.

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How to Teach Kids Problem-Solving Skills

KidStock / Blend Images / Getty Images

  • Steps to Follow
  • Allow Consequences

Whether your child can't find their math homework or has forgotten their lunch, good problem-solving skills are the key to helping them manage their life. 

A 2010 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that kids who lack problem-solving skills may be at a higher risk of depression and suicidality.   Additionally, the researchers found that teaching a child problem-solving skills can improve mental health . 

You can begin teaching basic problem-solving skills during preschool and help your child sharpen their skills into high school and beyond.

Why Problem-Solving Skills Matter

Kids face a variety of problems every day, ranging from academic difficulties to problems on the sports field. Yet few of them have a formula for solving those problems.

Kids who lack problem-solving skills may avoid taking action when faced with a problem.

Rather than put their energy into solving the problem, they may invest their time in avoiding the issue.   That's why many kids fall behind in school or struggle to maintain friendships .

Other kids who lack problem-solving skills spring into action without recognizing their choices. A child may hit a peer who cuts in front of them in line because they are not sure what else to do.  

Or, they may walk out of class when they are being teased because they can't think of any other ways to make it stop. Those impulsive choices may create even bigger problems in the long run.

The 5 Steps of Problem-Solving

Kids who feel overwhelmed or hopeless often won't attempt to address a problem. But when you give them a clear formula for solving problems, they'll feel more confident in their ability to try. Here are the steps to problem-solving:  

  • Identify the problem . Just stating the problem out loud can make a big difference for kids who are feeling stuck. Help your child state the problem, such as, "You don't have anyone to play with at recess," or "You aren't sure if you should take the advanced math class." 
  • Develop at least five possible solutions . Brainstorm possible ways to solve the problem. Emphasize that all the solutions don't necessarily need to be good ideas (at least not at this point). Help your child develop solutions if they are struggling to come up with ideas. Even a silly answer or far-fetched idea is a possible solution. The key is to help them see that with a little creativity, they can find many different potential solutions.
  • Identify the pros and cons of each solution . Help your child identify potential positive and negative consequences for each potential solution they identified. 
  • Pick a solution. Once your child has evaluated the possible positive and negative outcomes, encourage them to pick a solution.
  • Test it out . Tell them to try a solution and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, they can always try another solution from the list that they developed in step two. 

Practice Solving Problems

When problems arise, don’t rush to solve your child’s problems for them. Instead, help them walk through the problem-solving steps. Offer guidance when they need assistance, but encourage them to solve problems on their own. If they are unable to come up with a solution, step in and help them think of some. But don't automatically tell them what to do. 

When you encounter behavioral issues, use a problem-solving approach. Sit down together and say, "You've been having difficulty getting your homework done lately. Let's problem-solve this together." You might still need to offer a consequence for misbehavior, but make it clear that you're invested in looking for a solution so they can do better next time. 

Use a problem-solving approach to help your child become more independent.

If they forgot to pack their soccer cleats for practice, ask, "What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again?" Let them try to develop some solutions on their own.

Kids often develop creative solutions. So they might say, "I'll write a note and stick it on my door so I'll remember to pack them before I leave," or "I'll pack my bag the night before and I'll keep a checklist to remind me what needs to go in my bag." 

Provide plenty of praise when your child practices their problem-solving skills.  

Allow for Natural Consequences

Natural consequences  may also teach problem-solving skills. So when it's appropriate, allow your child to face the natural consequences of their action. Just make sure it's safe to do so. 

For example, let your teenager spend all of their money during the first 10 minutes you're at an amusement park if that's what they want. Then, let them go for the rest of the day without any spending money.

This can lead to a discussion about problem-solving to help them make a better choice next time. Consider these natural consequences as a teachable moment to help work together on problem-solving.

Becker-Weidman EG, Jacobs RH, Reinecke MA, Silva SG, March JS. Social problem-solving among adolescents treated for depression . Behav Res Ther . 2010;48(1):11-18. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2009.08.006

Pakarinen E, Kiuru N, Lerkkanen M-K, Poikkeus A-M, Ahonen T, Nurmi J-E. Instructional support predicts childrens task avoidance in kindergarten .  Early Child Res Q . 2011;26(3):376-386. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.11.003

Schell A, Albers L, von Kries R, Hillenbrand C, Hennemann T. Preventing behavioral disorders via supporting social and emotional competence at preschool age .  Dtsch Arztebl Int . 2015;112(39):647–654. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2015.0647

Cheng SC, She HC, Huang LY. The impact of problem-solving instruction on middle school students’ physical science learning: Interplays of knowledge, reasoning, and problem solving . EJMSTE . 2018;14(3):731-743.

Vlachou A, Stavroussi P. Promoting social inclusion: A structured intervention for enhancing interpersonal problem‐solving skills in children with mild intellectual disabilities . Support Learn . 2016;31(1):27-45. doi:10.1111/1467-9604.12112

Öğülmüş S, Kargı E. The interpersonal cognitive problem solving approach for preschoolers .  Turkish J Educ . 2015;4(17347):19-28. doi:10.19128/turje.181093

American Academy of Pediatrics. What's the best way to discipline my child? .

Kashani-Vahid L, Afrooz G, Shokoohi-Yekta M, Kharrazi K, Ghobari B. Can a creative interpersonal problem solving program improve creative thinking in gifted elementary students? .  Think Skills Creat . 2017;24:175-185. doi:10.1016/j.tsc.2017.02.011

Shokoohi-Yekta M, Malayeri SA. Effects of advanced parenting training on children's behavioral problems and family problem solving .  Procedia Soc Behav Sci . 2015;205:676-680. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.09.106

By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.

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Husband Shares 5 Hilarious Ways Men Can Solve Their Wives’ Problems

Posted: November 26, 2023 | Last updated: November 26, 2023

Men and women everywhere know that we all communicate very differently...that's what leads to so many communication issues in marriage. What seems like a big deal to a wife may seem like nothing to the husband. When she just wants to vent and share her feelings, he wants to solve her problems...even if she didn't ask him to. That's what makes @Chris Biggs' joke about 5 tried and true ways to solve wives' problems so funny!

Chris shared the video in mid-November 2023, and it had people laughing. Chris starts by explaining he's got 5 tips that have been handed down from generation to generation that are sure to help men everywhere solve their wives' problems. I'm sure they'd work for girlfriends, too. From asking if it's real and if it interests him, to telling her to get over it, asking if it's her time of the month to inquiring if she's hydrated, they're all things that women would lose their minds over if their husbands actually used these techniques to solve problems. But the number one tip is guaranteed to have husbands sleeping on the couch!

This is so funny! Guys, these are the exact things that you should NOT  do if you want to help your wife out !

People got a kick out of @Chris' advice and left hundreds of comments. @MonkeywithaPun advised, "You should probably do a vid about self-administered first aid LOL!" and @Deana Matero agreed, "You trying to get your fellow men HUUURT"! @Shannon pointed out, "This series should be called “How To Stay Single Forever”!" I have a 16-year-old son and agree with @Katie3793 who laughed, "I'm going to send these hot tips to my son next time he brings one home I don't like!!!"

If you missed Chris' tips on how to calm a woman down , make sure to check them out. He's full of advice that husbands should never use!

For more PairedLife updates, be sure to follow us on Google News !


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  1. 4 Ways to Solve Your Family Problems

    1 Wait until you're not angry to discuss this problem. Family problems can be very painful, especially around family-centered times, like holidays. If your family members are arguing, waiting until everyone is calm can help keep the argument from escalating into a full-blown feud.

  2. Solving Common Family Problems: Five Essential Steps

    Step 1: Take a Step Back The first step in solving any recurring problem in the life of a child is to take a step back. Problems of family life are best solved - and perhaps can only be...

  3. 8 Common Family Issues and How to Solve Them

    Codependent behavior Abuse of any kind If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance. 8 Common Causes Of Family Conflict

  4. How to Solve Family Problems

    Focus on the Relationship - Let Go of Anger and Pride Get Professional Help Remember to Take Care of Yourself Creating a family culture of openness and security, and taking the steps to resolve family issues, can improve relationships and maintain positive family dynamics. Common Family Problems

  5. How to Deal With Family Problems: 10 Steps

    1 Schedule a time to talk as a group. Facing and overcoming family problems can seem impossible. When you work together, however, resolving family differences becomes more feasible. The first step towards resolution is agreeing that there is a problem in the first place.

  6. 5 Tips to Deal With and Overcome Family Problems

    Read on to live five time-tested tips for overcoming conflict within your family. Markus Winkler | Unsplash. 1. Communicate With Family Members. Communication is a very important aspect of family life and, more importantly, conflict management. When there is a rift between the members, talking will help reduce tension.

  7. How to Effectively Resolve Family Conflicts

    Stress Management Resolve Family Conflicts and Relieve Stress By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Updated on February 10, 2022 Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS praetorianphoto / Getty Images

  8. 7 Strategies to Deal With Difficult Family Members

    1. Don't try to fix the difficult person. Accept them exactly as they are. (This applies to all difficult people, not just family.) It's tempting to try to help someone you want to care about;...

  9. Solving Common Family Problems: Five Essential Steps

    Step 1: Take a Step Back The first step in solving any recurring problem in the life of a child is to take a step back. Problems of family life are best solved - and perhaps can only be...

  10. Dealing with Difficult Family Relationships

    Download PDF Sheldon Reid What are dysfunctional family relationships? Common causes of family conflict Tips on interacting with difficult family members When to cut ties with family members What are dysfunctional family relationships? Mothers, fathers, siblings—your closest family members can form a lifelong social support system.

  11. Tips for Dealing With Family Conflict

    Just be polite. Contrary to how many feel, a family gathering is not the time to rehash old conflicts, as such conversations often get messy before they get resolved— if they get resolved. Be polite, redirect conversations into areas that may cause conflict, and try to avoid the person as much as possible.

  12. Family Issues: 13 Types, Signs & What To Do About It

    There are so many ways all of the aforementioned family issues can affect the members of that family, particularly children in their formative years of life. For example, "Children may start having behavioral issues, which then in return causes parents to get upset and the kids act out more," Nuñez explains.

  13. 7 Most Common Family Problems And How to Solve Them

    Solution: Get some space for yourself. Engage in a productive hobby or do something you love. Too much distance and/or not enough distance can put a strain on a family relationship. 2. Parenting Disagreements Every parent has a different view when it comes to raising their child.

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  16. Family Problems? What Causes It And The 6 Best Solutions

    1. Financial troubles Money is the root of quite many scenarios in life. It can be a source of stress, opportunity, comfort, or pain. Money will likely fill each of those roles throughout your life in some way, shape, or form. When money problems become family problems, however, that can create new challenges.

  17. The 10 Most Common Family Problems and How to Deal with Them

    1. Arguments All The Time There are better fights that clear the air and then, there are bad ones ruining the environment for everyone. These sort of fight cracks up the relationships, and are so frustrating as well. Sometimes, in a relationship, it is all about how you are arguing instead of what you are arguing about.

  18. Common Family Problems And Their Solutions-BetterLYF

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  19. Family Conflict Resolution: 6 Worksheets & Scenarios (+ PDF)

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  20. Regular Family Meetings to Solve Problems: some guidance to have a

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    Avoid placing labels on your kids as well. Even positive labels like, "She's the musician in our family," and "He's our star athlete," can increase tension among family members. Point out that everyone has many skills and talents and it's healthy to keep exploring new areas of interest. 2.

  22. Resilience: 5 ways to help children and teens learn it

    Encourage problem-solving for issues big and small. Explain how you tackle problems in your own life and see if they can brainstorm solutions for theirs. Nurture calming skills with a self-soothing activity. Take four slow, deep breaths together, snuggle with a pet, list what they're grateful for, or watch a happy video.

  23. 5 common family challenges around the holidays and how to ...

    Whitney Goodman, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of online support platform Calling Home, says one of the biggest issues she sees around the holidays revolves around expectations.

  24. 5 Unique Ways Loneliness Affects Men Later In Life & How To Solve ...

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  25. How to Teach Kids Problem-Solving Skills

    Here are the steps to problem-solving: . Identify the problem. Just stating the problem out loud can make a big difference for kids who are feeling stuck. Help your child state the problem, such as, "You don't have anyone to play with at recess," or "You aren't sure if you should take the advanced math class."

  26. Why being creative is good for you

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    That's what makes @Chris Biggs' joke about 5 tried and true ways to solve wives' problems so funny! Chris shared the video in mid-November 2023, and it had people laughing.

  28. How to answer those dreaded personal questions at holiday gatherings

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