Family can drive you crazy! They point out your faults and get on your nerves. Yet those same people will rise to your defense without a second thought should someone else try to do the same thing. Standing up against the bullies for the people you love is easy—when it is clear that it is “us” against them. But what do you do when the fighting is within the ranks?
The holidays are here. For some, it’s “the most wonderful time of the year!” But for others, it is a dreaded period. While some families feast on turkey and dressing. Others endure a table full of elephants that nobody is willing to address. So, we do our best to muddle through the five hours on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Breathing a big sigh of relief when the night goes off without landmine explosions.
But sometimes the hurt and betrayal within a family goes so deep that it is impossible to ignore. An older cousin molested one of my clients when she was about ten years old. Every year her extended family forced her to make a difficult choice. If she wanted to be with them, she had to be around her molester. Nobody wanted to tell the molester he couldn’t come—even though they knew.
While the right and wrong of this situation is clear, it is a sad truth that many families are torn apart by disputes over money, broken promises and backbiting. So what do you do if your holidays are overcast by a family breach? Here are some tips:
1. Do The Right Thing: If you’re a direct part of the problem, to the best of your ability do the right thing. If you’ve wronged a family member, then care more for your family than yourself and take the necessary steps to make amends. If you’re the offended family member, forgive first. Then, know what you require for reconciliation. Be clear with your loved ones about what you need. But also be considerate of the emotions everyone may be navigating around the discord. And if you’re one of the masses—those that get caught in the middle—the right thing is the thing that you would want done for you. My client’s family would have wrestled less with what to do if they’d simply put themselves in her shoes.
2. Pursue Peace: I’ve seen families torn apart by people upholding their personal agendas. Family members with axes to grind taking communication breakdowns as opportunities to exorcise their personal demons. Our role is to be peacemakers. Pursuing peace doesn’t mean we do the things that make everyone comfortable. The truth is that sometimes the path to real peace and connection is long, hard and filled with disruptive conversations. Regardless, we pursue peace and truth because ultimately the only possibility for real healing is found there.
3. Fix Problems, Not People: Throwing stones will result in broken bones…or, in many cases of conflict, unnecessarily hurt feelings. Sometimes when emotions get involved, we strike out in pain. Swinging words like axes, without real thought to the aftermath. If people feel attacked, the possibility of resolution and reconciliation goes out the window. People don’t want to help you or reach common ground when they feel as if you are out to get them. As you work to resolve family conflict, keep it about the facts.
Do Your Work: If conflict is disrupting your family, courageously do your part to address it!
Define Your Wealth: “I promote and pursue peace!”
Recently named the “North America’s Next Greatest Speaker” by eWomenNetwork, Coach Felicia is a Certified Executive Coach who empowers her clients to “Turn their Worth into Wealth” as she partners with them to DISCOVER their WORTH, DO their WORK and DEFINE their WEALTH. Get more insight, download the FREE “8 Choices Winners Must Make!” seminar MP3 at www.coachfelicia.com!