How to Deal With Family Problems

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Everyone's family has problems every once in a while -- whether you are family through blood or through marriage. Obviously, each problem requires a different approach, but it can help if you keep a few tips in mind. Serious problems may require professional help, but as long as you keep the lines of communication open, you may be surprised at how genuine effort can help get through misunderstandings, hurt feelings and tough times.

Step 1

Take a step back. Do not react immediately to problems or angry words. Instead, think about the problem from a non-emotional standpoint. Figure out who the problem affects and how it affects you personally. Then think about what you can do to help. Consider how your family will react to any solution you propose, and try to discover if they'd rather you do something else and whether that's something with which you'd be comfortable.

Step 2

Exercise restraint. If you would really like to tell your family member what you think but it wouldn't help, don't say anything. Sure it would help you blow off some steam, but it would not help your family member or your relationship with that person. So know when to keep quiet. Only give your opinion when you are asked for advice.

Step 3

Do not gossip. If Aunt Sally is in rehab for drug addiction, there is no need to tell anyone about it that does not absolutely have to know. It is honorable to keep family matters quiet. And people will trust you more when they know that you won't tell everyone the things they tell you. Even if you have to keep a secret for one family member from other members of the family, keep any promises you have made, no matter how juicy the information you've pledged to keep to yourself.

Step 4

Be there if at all possible in emergencies. Whether it takes a plane ticket or chipping in to help with funeral expenses, do your absolute best to put family first. When it is known that you do your best, if on occasion you can't afford to chip in they will know it's the truth. You probably won't get thanked for it, but you will be respected.

Step 5

Don't let yourself be antagonized. There is always at least one person in the family who says hurtful or perhaps just tactless things. Do not let it get to you. Keep your focus on when you can leave that particular gathering and go home where you can breathe easily. Keeping family gatherings relatively short when that person is around will help a lot.

Step 6

Be yourself regardless of what your family thinks. When it comes to the important things, gently stand your ground. Even if your family makes a show of hating you for it for a while, don't make yourself miserable. Either they will come around and be okay with it, or they do not love you unconditionally. Just give it time.