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Caree Brown L.C.S.W. Psychotherapy

Individual, Couples, & Family Therapy


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Coping with Difficult Family Members

Family problems

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family?” It’s true – family members come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes you’re left to deal with someone whose behavior doesn’t go well with your own. It might be impossible to avoid conflict or strife with certain family members, and things can certainly get tense around family reunion season.

So, if you feel like you’re stuck with someone, what can you do to deal with them so that they don’t drive you up the wall? It’s difficult not to feel angry and irritated around this person, who always seems to disagree or display inappropriate behaviors while around you. But to resolve the conflict maturely, and to pass good coping techniques on to your children, there are a few strategies you can implement to make sure you keep your cool.

Caree Brown is your premier resource for family therapy. Caree finds it important that establishing a healthy relationship and healthy dealings with your family is a good step towards determining boundaries and not letting your relationships fall apart. Here are a few good resources to help you develop your coping mechanisms the right way, especially if you must continue being around this family member.

1. Tell Them They’re Right

This may be a difficult piece of advice to swallow and it can take years of practice to fully implement it. But one of the best ways to avoid conflict and continue getting along with this person as best as possible is to just let them be right on their side of the argument.

This does not mean you have to agree with them, but just let them know that you listen and understand. Acknowledge them without judging their point of view so that they feel understood, which may help them to be less obtuse in future conversations with you.

2. Remain Calm

Yes, this advice isn’t easy, especially in the heat of the moment when the family member does something truly irritating. If you feel yourself starting to get annoyed or angry, try removing yourself from the situation for a while. Take several deep breaths. Slowing your breathing is the key to calming down your nerves and avoiding being taken over by angry emotions.

Pretend you are calming a baby. Inhale and exhale slowly and take care of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with being alone for a little while to regain your energy and strength – in fact, it’s encouraged. And remember that you always have access to family therapy.

3. Don’t Fall for It

Taking the bait is a pitfall that allows you to continue that cycle of harassment and argumentative conversations. If the family member is the manipulative type, they may try to incite or provoke you to start a conversation. Just look at this as a cry for attention rather than an actual intent to start a fight.

Give them something to focus on that draws attention to themselves without it turning negative. Maybe you can ask them to help you with your kids or to help with a chore before dinner. Give them a reason why you need their help, making them feel wanted. These little gestures truly can go a long way.

4. Accept Them

Accepting your family member is one of the final steps towards absolving yourself of anger or irritation when dealing with them. This person may always be challenging to deal with, but if you accept them, you can get rid of those situations that cause stress for you. The resistance to this person will slowly fade away, especially as your coping mechanisms grow.

You may not have the perfect and loving relationship with them as you’ve always dreamed about but getting into civil accordance is not half bad. Try not to feel let down every time the person disappoints you or doesn’t act maturely. They are going to be themselves, and it’s time for you to focus on being yourself as well.

Schedule a Family Therapy Appointment for More Ways to Cope

When your initial coping mechanisms don’t work, it may be time to take the next step. Family therapy is a powerful way to implement changes within and without. If you or a loved one are struggling to deal with a difficult family member, Caree Brown is here for you. You can schedule a family therapy appointment by contacting Caree online or calling (925) 878-5587.