Family arguments: 3 common pitfalls and how to avoid them
Humans are funny creatures. Kept in isolation and we crave company; kept together for too long and friction arises. Nowhere is this more evident than in Singapore, where many of us still live with our parents and siblings. After all, when we’re all huddled under the same roof, family arguments are bound to occur.
And that’s perfectly normal! Even the most functional families argue from time to time. The difference is that functional families are aware of the common pitfalls of family arguments and know how to avoid or at least, recover from them. Here are three tips to help you avoid family mudslinging matches:
1. Don’t Keep Skeletons in the Closet
From serious issues like finances to not-so-serious issues like the way dad floods the bathroom after every shower, families can argue just about anything under the sun. Dysfunctional families, however, tend to sweep things under the rug— out of sight, out of mind, right? However, keeping skeletons in the closet just means that you are not addressing the underlying problem. Instead, lay everything out on the table and talk it through with those involved. If the watery mess that dad makes is bothering you, let him know exactly why that is the case and how you can both come to an agreement.
2. Don’t Bring Up the Past
Don’t say “How many times have I told you to not wet the bathroom floor?” or “How difficult is it for you to use the shower curtain?!!” You’ll just start an argument. And when everybody is arguing, no one is listening. Instead, begin every discussion with the aim of de-escalating the situation. Before dragging out the past just to make a point, ask yourself if there is a valid reason to do so or if this is just your ego talking. Most of the time, it’s pure ego. It’s best to take a step back and take a breath before you come up with a retort that might most likely make things worse. You can also say things like ‘I hear you’ or ‘I see this has really upset you’, or other phrases that demonstrate you are listening. Once the initial wave of emotion has passed, troubleshoot the root problem and devise a solution. “I will leave a towel in the bathroom so that it’s easier to for all of us to clean-up after a shower”.
3. Don’t Drag Others into the Ring
If parents are arguing, keep the kids out of it. Don’t ask your children — or anybody else for that matter — to take sides. If it is between the two of you, then keep it between the two of you. Involving others in your argument will only further divide the family and cause unnecessary unhappiness.. If you see that an argument is heading towards meltdown, play the role of the mediator and — as with point #2 — de-escalate the situation with attentive listening and simple solutions.
Less arguments result in better sleep and health, and healthier family relationships. Your loved ones are important, find out how you can plan ahead for their needs.
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