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Published on March 8, 2018

Sibling Rivalry: The 10 Best Tips to Prevent this Parenting Nemesis

Sibling Rivalry: The 10 Best Tips to Prevent this Parenting Nemesis

The parental headache of sibling rivalry begins in childhood. It can carry far beyond those formative years and into adulthood with all kinds of problems years down the road, such as who gets to spend family holidays with the parents each year, family wars over parental estates and decades of competition over who is more successful.

The way to combat against sibling rivalry is to deal with it head on before your second child is even born. You head off the issue before it even begins, by helping them form loving and supportive relationships rather than competitive based relationships.

Helping children forage relationships that are unstoppable rivers of love and support is possible. Every parent dreams of their children having life long lasting relationships that are the greatest support system for one another. The reality is that this can happen, but parents must help facilitate these relationships early on and help the children build love, support, and comradery that can last for a lifetime.

Here are the top 10 tips on thwarting sibling rivalry and instead create loving sibling relationships.

1. Create a positive relationship before the second child is even born

If you had a pet before your first child was born, you probably recall worrying about how your pet would react to the baby. You may have even googled how to best help your dog or cat prepare for the baby to come.

We owned two dogs before our first child was born. I actually bought a book on how to prepare the pet for the new baby. I recall one tip was to have a blanket that the baby used at the hospital to be brought home for the dog to sniff and lay it in the dog’s bed, so the dog can become familiar with the new scent. We actually did this.

Parents go through great measures to make sure that even their pets get along with the new baby and take measures to help facilitate a good start in their relationships, so the family can be harmonious and happy. The same should apply with other children in the home.

When a new sibling is on the way, we need to do more than simply wish and hope that they love the new baby and don’t develop a jealousy complex. Deal with the issue before it even begins. There are some practical ways that you can help your child prepare for their new sibling so that they feel they are part of the process. You want the current child to welcome the new baby so warmly that they feel that the baby is theirs in a way that makes them want to be protective and caring for the new life that is coming into your home soon.

Here are some of those practical tips:

Help the child feel a part ownership of the new baby, much like you do as parents

Refer to baby as “our baby” or even “your baby”. We did this with our daughter when we were expecting our twins. She wasn’t quite two years old when they were born and now at six years old she still refers to the twins as hers. It was quite effective in helping her accept them from the start, because they were her babies, not just Mommy or Daddy’s babies.

Include the child in the physical process

Let your child touch your belly to feel the baby inside you. Also allow the child to go to ultrasounds where they can see the baby on a screen. It becomes more real and you can create excitement in this experience you have together.

Get some siblings books

Go to the library or shop for children’s books on the topic of babies and having a new sibling. These can help the child learn more about what Mommy is experiencing, as well as an explanation of what it will be like to have a new baby in the home after they are born.

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Allow them to get involved in choosing names

If they’re old enough, ask for their suggestions, talk about the names you are narrowing it down to, and discuss these things as a family. What a powerful thing for a child to have been a part of the process of naming their new brother or sister! Again, it helps create a sense of ownership with their new sibling on the way.

Get them involved in preparing stuff for the baby

Allow the child to be a part of creating the nursery, or picking out toys and clothes for the new baby. The more you include them in this process, the more they are going to feel that they are a part of this baby’s new life and feel an ownership or responsibility toward the baby.

Talk with them about their feelings

It is normal to feel some apprehension or even jealousy. The parental attention is shifting. Babies require a lot of attention. This is why you want to include them in on everything as much as possible. That way they aren’t feel left out and ignored. Their feelings should be expressed in a healthy manner, so having a conversation on their eye level and allowing them to say what they are feeling is very important.

Make the child a helper and a part of everyday activities when the baby arrives

This way they are not separated from the baby and the new experiences that Mom and Dad are having. Instead they are “Second Mommy” as my daughter referred to herself after our twins were born. They were “her twins”, so she wanted to help change them, feed them, rock them, and entertain them.

Of course when young kids are trying to help, their “help” can create more work for the parents at times, but that’s ok. You are supporting good helper attitudes and behaviors that facilitate them connecting with the baby and the activity surrounding the baby all day long.

This will also foster a positive start to their sibling relationship, as they learn early that they are supposed to help one another. Baby can’t help just yet, but will eventually become old enough to some day help older siblings too and you can remind your child of this fact as well.

2. Treat children equitably

This does not mean that you do things same for every child in the home. Each child is different and will want different things, but will also need different treatment at times. The key is to maintain a balance of fairness so that the level of attention and monetary spending in equal among all of the children over time. The term for this is equitable. The dictionary defines equitable as:

Characterized by equity or fairness; just and right; fair; reasonable: equitable treatment of all citizens.

    Our children need to be treated fairly, reasonably, and in a manner that provides for each of their needs and wants individual; without giving favor to one child over another. Kids don’t need the same gifts for holidays. Instead get the items that each child wants, but spending the same amount on each child. That way children know that even if the items are different, they are being treated fairly, as equals in the family.

    There will be times when one child gets to do special things with a parent, the other children in the family may become jealous, so be prepared to explain in advance that their time will come too for this special time. Make sure you follow through and provide that special time for the other children, otherwise resentments can begin to form.

    A good example of equitable treatment is bedtime. Children at different ages often require different bedtimes. You enforce the bedtimes equally and the bedtimes are fair for each of their ages. The times are however different because they need to be different for their ages and sleep needs. It is treating them the same even though their times are different.

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    Children understand fairness. It is innate to them. Keep things fair and you will be less likely to create growing resentments between kids when things aren’t equal. As long as each child is being treated fairly, they will respect your decisions in the long right. Maybe not right away, but over time they will. Fairness is wired into their brains, so try to be as fair as possible to prevent sibling rivalry.

    3. Don’t play the favorites game

    Don’t ever allow your children to think that you have a favorite. I know that many parents think it is sometimes humorous to joke about these things because you do have one child that is perhaps more compliant or certainly easier to parent than the other children.

    However, you can’t allow yourself to ever say that you have a favorite because this term is interpreted as love. You child will think “because Daddy said that Charlotte is his favorite today, he loves her more.” That is sad to think your child will feel that they are less loved because of favoritism, but this is simply how they think.

    Use the phrase “you are all my favorite” and stick to it permanently. Let them know that they are all loved equally and that your love for each of them is huge.

    4. Celebrate individuality and differences

    Minimize comparisons between your children. Each child is unique and special and they should be celebrated for their individuality. Don’t compare the children to one another, because they are simply too different for comparison.

    I have twins, and even they can be as different as night and day. One is tender, empathic, and sensitive. The other one is affectionate physically and loves to give me hugs and cuddle. It’s great that they are different and show love and affection differently. I praise them for each of their individual attributes and abilities. It doesn’t make one more special over the other. They are simply different and each of their differences are praised.

    Your girl may be the jock and your boy may be the theatre lover. That’s ok. Don’t try to make them something that they are not. They will only resent you for trying to make them something they are not. They will become resentful of their siblings if you try to compare them to their sibling and his/her abilities, passions, or talents.

    The sooner you accept your child for who they are and can come alongside them to celebrate their uniqueness the sooner the sibling will also join in with celebrating and supporting their sibling in their interests, hobbies, and passions. The goal is to facilitate support within the family and it begins with the parents as examples first and foremost.

    5. Foster encouragement and not competition

    Help your children become each other’s greatest support and cheerleaders. If you have kids that compete in different sports and activities, then make the time to go as a family with the other sibling(s) who are not participating so that you can collectively support each child.

    Teach them to support their sibling by encouraging them to say things to their sibling such as “I hope you play great today” or “I am cheering for you to score today”. These things can make such a difference in their lasting relationships when done consistently over time.

    It may not come naturally to every child, which is why you may need to be prompting them with ways to help encourage and phrases to say. They will pick it up after a few times (or more) and will begin to encourage because they see that it’s well received by their sibling and it makes you happy as a parent. What you are creating is something even bigger; which is a relationship that is built on support and encouragement.

    Friendly competition in the home is a good thing, but keep at just that: friendly. When games are played in the family, children need to be taught to congratulate one another and be of encouragement and not gloating when they are winning and their sibling is on the losing end. Keep reminding them, especially when little, that not everyone can win all the time, so we want to be good sports while winning and losing. When this message is constant in your household, your children will internalize it.

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    Be sure your children are internalizing the right messages, the ones that draw them into closer and more supportive relationships with their siblings instead of tearing them apart because they are tearing one another down.

    6. Talk about their future relationships

    I like to remind my kids that I have sisters and brothers that I grew up with and they are now my kids’ aunts and uncles. I talk about the good relationships we had as kids and how we supported one another, like my sister Rachel and I helping one another prepare and compete in scholarship pageants. We were one another’s greatest supporters. I let them know that I grew up with Rachel as my best friend and that she is still my best friend because we had such a good childhood relationship. I then talk to them about how they are so lucky to have one another. Some kids don’t get siblings. They are lucky that they get one another as siblings and best friends for life.

    You may call it brainwashing. I call it good parenting. Indoctrinating them with the philosophy that their siblings will be with them to love and support from cradle to grave to love is a blessing over their life.

    7. Teach them to apologize and forgive

    In our household, apologies are not just “I’m sorry”. The offender needs to say why they are sorry. They need to go to the child they have hurt, say why they are sorry, ask forgiveness, and then give their sibling a hug. On top of that, after the other sibling says “I forgive you,” I make them both say to one another “you are my best friend”. Again, this is a helpful reminder to each or them that they more than just siblings, they are to be life long friends.

    Apologizing for the small things as kids teaches them to be more willing to apologize and forgive when much bigger offenses occur when they are grown. If they don’t learn to willingly apologize as children, they won’t be good at apologies as adults. Teaching them this valuable skill will help them be able to mend their relationships when follies between siblings happen as adults.

    8. Teach them to be there for one another

    Parents do not need to be the ones providing all the help, direction, and guidance in the home. Older siblings can help younger siblings. There will be times when the younger siblings can pitch in and help with the older siblings as well.

    Teach children to become more dependent on one another instead of running to Mom or Dad every time they need help. This habit of helping one another, when properly instilled in children, can carry forward into adulthood.

    The next time one of your littles needs their laces tied or help with putting on their jacket, ask your older child to help the younger. Make it a habit of them helping one another, so eventually it becomes instinctual to them. If Mom or Dad isn’t within view, they will begin to look to their siblings for help.

    Be sure to praise your children when they help one another. Letting them know that this is the way that things should be done in the household will help encourage them to continue with this helping behavior.

    Make it a positive experience instead of a demand or something they despise. Use pleasant tones when asking them to help their sibling and overly praise them for their help when they first begin. They will come to find satisfaction in helping and the reward of knowing they are doing something good and meaningful for someone else in the household will keep them helping in the future. It will also give them a sense of confidence in their ability to help and a greater sense of belongingness in the family as they are needed by others.

    9. Zero tolerance for hate language

    Words can hurt to the core. They can do more damage than physical harm. Do not allow your children to get in the habit of calling one another names or picking on one another. It should be household rules that no warning is even needed when this rule is not followed. If a parent hears language that is hateful or tears down another in the family, there is immediate consequence. They will learn quickly that mean words are not tolerated in the home.

    Start this policy when they are young, because the older they get the meaner and smarter they can get. Prevent it from escalating in the future to bigger, meaner, and more targeted hateful talk.

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    Teach them to talk to one another with positive and uplifting words. If they have a habit of saying mean things, then turn it around. Make dinner time an opportunity for everyone to go around the table and say a compliment about the person on their left and then to the person on their right. It helps to create kinder hearts and minds when positive words are spoken aloud to one another.

    Make it happen, even if it has to be done as a planned activity around the dinner table or during a car ride. It will create a lasting effect on their heart to hear positive words from their siblings.

    10. Teach them to resolve their own conflicts

    If your kids come to you for every tiny infraction they inflict on one another, then they are not actively resolving their own conflicts. Teach them how to think about how they want to solve their problems with one another. They can learn to negotiate their sides and come to a fair resolution.

    It won’t happen overnight, but with some parental help in getting them started in this process of conflict resolution thinking, they will soon learn to do it on their own. There are times when it is a safety issue and parental intervention is needed, but over time you will come to find that many of the small fights and arguments that your kids have all day long can be handled amongst themselves if they are properly instructed how to handle these situations.

    Give them some practice help by providing options of two good ways to handle the situation and let them chose how to handle it between the two good options. This gives them the opportunity to think about the consequences and what resolution works best. For example, if my son comes to me and says his brother took his toy I can say, “how would you like to resolve the situation? Should we put the toy up for the rest of the day or should you take turns playing with the toy?”

    Allowing them to decide the resolution will help prepare them for the next step which is thinking of their own possible solutions, which they can negotiate amongst themselves. It is a process of empowering your children to solve their conflicts with one another, so that you don’t have to be the go-between on every trivial matter in the household.

    Someday you will be thankful you taught them to work things out for themselves, so that you aren’t getting calls to intervene in adult arguments because they don’t know how to deal with one another as adults because they never learned as kids.

    Love is the key

    Above all, teach your kids to love one another. Teach by example by showing love to everyone in the household.

    Love is about respect, fairness, kindness, care, and commitment to being there for one another.

    Teaching them to love one another before the second child is even born will create an environment of care and affection that can last a lifetime. It is never too late to start, so start these habits today to help facilitate lasting loving relationships between your kids.

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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      Dr. Magdalena Battles

      Doctor of Psychology

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      Last Updated on June 12, 2018

      Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

      Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

      A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

      You know how this looks:

      • Parents constantly comparing children.
      • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
      • Domestic violence.
      • Adultery…
      • And many others.

      For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

      Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

      Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

      This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

      In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

      If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

      How to fix a dysfunctional family

      In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

      And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

      Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

      It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

      Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

      Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

      There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

      Dysfunctional… Or just average?

      Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

      The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

      You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

      A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

      Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

      Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

      • Unrealistic expectations
      • Lack of interest and time spent together
      • Sexism
      • Utilitarianism
      • Lack of empathy
      • Unequal or unfair treatment
      • Disrespect towards boundaries
      • Control Issues
      • Jealousy
      • Verbal and physical abuse
      • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

      You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

      If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

      Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

      How to turn it around

      When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

      But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

      One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

      We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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      As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

      What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

      Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

      Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

      Correction is possible

      In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

      Verbalize it.

      All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

      Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

      This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

      But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

      So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

      Putting it to work in real life

      In real life it would be something like this:

      “OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

      Or:

      “Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

      Or:

      “Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

      As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

      This is what you have to remember:

      1-Stop.

      2-Why it’s wrong?

      3-What you need.

      And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

      It’s a family thing

      A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

      Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

      In other words, you will need cooperation…

      So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

      Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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      We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

      You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

      It’s not a free-for-all battle

      In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

      No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

      Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

      And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

      The method

      1. Drop the ego

      Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

      You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

      Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

      What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

      It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

      After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

      Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

      Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

      Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

      And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

      You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

      2. Not blame, but responsibility

      When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

      But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

      When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

      What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

      Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

      As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

      You will do something like this:

      “Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

      I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

      You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

      I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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      It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

      What happened here?

      We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

      We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

      We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

      And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

      You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

      This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

      3. Doing the work

      What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

      This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

      Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

      If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

      It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

      “When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

      I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

      But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

      You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

      Love is all you need

      You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

      That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

      And what happens if it simply is not there?

      What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

      What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

      There is only one thing you can do:

      To break away.

      Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

      There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

      “We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

      If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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      Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

      You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

      Putting distance

      So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

      What do I mean?

      Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

      Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

      Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

      Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

      They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

      Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

      I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

      I choose my peace of mind.

      And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

      Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

      Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

      How to prevent it

      There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

      • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
      • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

      Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

      You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

      Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

      Priorities and clear thought

      You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

      You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

      You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

      Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

      If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

      And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

      Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

      But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

      Featured photo credit: Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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