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6 Big Mistakes That Destroy Family Relationships

6 Big Mistakes That Destroy Family Relationships

Family should be a person’s first source for love, acceptance, and support. Unfortunately, many extended families are failing miserably as the people within the family do things to undercut family unity. Understanding the problem is the first step in finding a solution.

6 things that destroy extended family include:

1. Insults and Criticism

Words carry weight. In some cases they can carry the weight of the world. When unkind words are said to family, they hurt. Your family is supposed to be your source of encouragement and support. Negative words damage the core of family relationships. Some family members may say things off the cuff and think that because these things were said casually, they don’t hurt the other person. The truth is that such words hurt, however they are said. When negative words are spoken to family members it creates a chasm in the relationship. It takes time and positive interactions to repair the harm that is done when insults, criticisms, and jabs take place.

When there is any outpouring of these negative words to a family member the chasm can grow so great that it can almost seem beyond repair. Any relationship can be resolved with apologies and forgiveness, but the hurt can still remain long after words are exchanged. Be careful with your words. Remind yourself that as family you are there to be one another’s greatest supporters in life. Tearing others in the family down with words is destructive to the family unit. Keep the old adage in mind when speaking to your family “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

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If there are people in your family who have problems with words, then set the example and set it strong. Use words that encourage and uplift family members. Doing so makes you a person that others want to be around. People don’t want to be around people who make them feel bad. They want to be around those who make them feel good about themselves. Help your family by looking for the positive in each and every person, so that you can set the example of using words that uplift fellow family members.

2. Gossip

Gossip is very damaging. Most often gossip occurs when someone is upset by something related to the person they are gossiping about. It may make a person feel better temporarily, but in the end it does not solve the problem as the gossip itself is certainly not done out of kindness or love. If you have a problem or issue with someone in the family then go to them directly. You don’t need to announce your issue in front of the whole family. Some people do this to force family members to choose sides in a situation .

When sides are taken, there is a divide in the family. Instead, go to that person privately with whom you have a problem. Discuss the issues, but do so with the the goal of reconciliation. Doing so with hardness in your heart or wanting to attribute blame won’t solve the problem.

Voice your concerns in a manner that helps them see things from your perspective. That way they may better want to heal the relationship and rectify any wrongs. Don’t talk badly about family members behind their back. If they have some drama in their life and it has nothing to do with you, then don’t spread their stories around. Tell yourself “not my monkeys, not my circus”.

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3. Lack of Inclusion

An Ask Amy article was posted online that clearly puts family inclusion into perspective. Here is that wonderfully articulated response from Amy Dickinson of the Chicago Tribute:

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    Inclusion of family members is essential to family unity. Include all family members at family functions. Even if you “know” they are going to say no. Ask anyway. The hard feelings come because of failure to ask and failure to include. It is up to them whether they attend whatever function or trip you are inviting them to, but the most important part is that they are asked. If your goal is family unity and love among all members, then include all members in family gatherings and functions. Don’t find excuses to not include, as that is wrong and will create hard feelings.

    4. Deception and Lies

    Deception in a family is destructive. The truth always prevails. Sometimes it may take years or even a generation for the lies and deceit to become known, but know that they will come to light someday. If you can’t be honest with your family, who can you be honest with?

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    Lying to family or using deception to keep secrets leads to brokenness in a family. This brokenness comes from trust being corroded. The bigger the lie, the bigger the corrosion. Some lies, such as secret children born from an affair, can create insurmountable corrosion that will leave a family damaged for generations.

    Your actions have consequences. Not just to you, but to your extended family for generations to come. It is much better to admit your wrong doings and work toward healing, than to lie and work to carry that lie around indefinitely (or until you are found out). Don’t burden yourself with lies. Be open and honest with your family. If you have done something that is hurtful to family members, then you need to apologize and make an effort to rectify the situation for the sake of family unity. Trying to hide the truth only compounds the hurt. The longer the truth is hidden, the more compounded the hurt.

    5. Failure to Accept Differences

    Children who grow up in the same home with the same parents, same discipline, and same guidance do not turn out to be the same exact adults as their siblings. We all have differences. Allow others to be different. Just because you are family doesn’t mean you have to share the same political views or even the same religion.

    People will grow up and have different parenting styles and lifestyle choices, but it is not the job of family members to judge. Love and acceptance starts in the family. If a family is not providing this to one another, then they are fundamentally failing as a family.

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    If you choose to put a foothold in the differences and create family strife because of differences, then the extended family unit is ultimately damaged. Accept people for who they are and for where they are in life. Acceptance of a person for who they are, is the ultimate form or love.

    6. No Apologies and No Forgiveness

    Apologies and forgiveness are the glue that keep a family together. Nobody is perfect. At some point in time you will hurt a member of the family. It is up to you to say the words “I am sorry for…”. Those words can heal wounds and create a stronger family bond. When you apologize to a family member, the message you are sending to the person is that they matter and that you don’t want ill feelings between you and them.

    Not apologizing, is sending the message that the person does not matter or that their feelings don’t matter. Failure to apologize is a personality flaw and weakness of character. Be the bigger person and apologize when you do something wrong against a family member, whether your words or actions that hurt the person were intentional or not does not matter. What matters is that the apology takes place. You can explain intentions, but you can’t make someone unfeel being wronged.

    When someone apologizes, be a gracious forgiver. Families need one another. Don’t hold grudges, as that is a burden to you and it harms the family. Forgive and show your forgiveness with your actions as well as your words. This means that if you forgot to invite a family member to a birthday celebration, then ask for their forgiveness and offer to do something to make it up to the family member like taking him or her to lunch. Actions speak louder than words, so make your apology count by making your actions parallel a heartfelt apology.

    More by this author

    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

    How to Strengthen Family Bonds When You’re Staying at Home Why Self-Compassion Is More Important Than Self-Esteem 15 Ways to Practice Positive Self-Talk for Success How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills How to Cope with Empty Nest Syndrome and Be Happy Again

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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