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How to Mend a Family Feud

by Faith Brown

A family disagreement is something most people experience more than once in their lives. Sometimes the people you love the most can tap into deep emotions, which can ignite a full-on family feud. Family disagreements can cause stress and pain to everyone involved, and even to family members on the sidelines. A number of issues can lead to family conflict including money, divorce or health issues. The steps you take to mend family disagreements depend on several factors like the problem, the number of family members involved and the relationship dynamics.

Make the First Move

To begin healing, someone has to make the first move toward reconciliation. After you have had time to calm down, consider taking that first step to resolving the issue. It is best to bring the family members involved together to discuss the issue. Having separate conversations may confuse or escalate the issue. Bringing the family together assures each person hears the information firsthand. During this stage, it is important not to cast blame, but to open the door to discussion. Asking someone you trust to mediate the conversation can sometimes be helpful; it should be someone all parties accept. It is also a good idea to choose a neutral meeting place so that everyone feels comfortable.

Establish Ground Rules

Before you take steps to mend a family disagreement, it is important to set ground rules. Setting ground rules for important discussions can help lower tensions and gives everyone a chance to be heard. Some good ground rules can include not interrupting, listening openly, not saying hurtful things and keeping the conversation at a normal speaking level, suggests Sandra J. Bailey, family and human development specialist with Montana State University, in her article, "Positive Family Communication." It is also important to share how you feel about the issue, not how you think someone else is feeling. Let your family members know it is important to you to hear their feelings.

Identify the Issue

Identifying the issue is important to mending the disagreement. Sometimes the problem is easy to identify, but there can also be situations where the issue goes deeper than the surface problems. For example, adult siblings may be feuding over what to do with an elderly parent’s house when the deeper issue may be the fear of losing their parent. Once they confront that underlying fear they can move on to make productive decisions. Identifying the root of the problem goes a long way to mending family conflict.

Listen Openly

Listen with an open mind and hear what each family member is saying. Listening demonstrates you respect and care for them. When working out family disagreements, it can be helpful to put yourself in the other person’s place. For example, your teen may be angry because she thinks you do not trust her. Before you respond, step back and think about how she may be feeling. Trying to see the issue from her teenage eyes may help you respond with more empathy. Sometimes looking at situations from another person’s perspective can help you understand her better and help resolve the issue.

Let Go

Once you resolve a family feud, make sure to let it go. Do not bring it up again in future conversations with your family member or hold it over his head. Letting go and forgiving will help everyone involved move on and builds healthier family relationships. Let other family members affected by the disagreement know the issue has been resolved. If the disagreement was between you and your spouse and your children witnessed the argument, let them know you worked it out. Tell the children you are both okay, and you love them. If you cannot resolve the problem on your own, consider family counseling. Family is important, and resolving conflict is essential to a healthy, happy family.

About the Author

Faith Brown is based in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She has 15-plus years experience in the nonprofit sector with women’s and children’s organizations. Faith holds a Bachelor of Science in human services management from the University of Phoenix.

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