Fighting With My Family
“You don’t choose your family.” That’s for sure—even though sometimes we might wish we could. Family fighting can happen to even the closest siblings, parents and children, and when families find themselves in the middle of an argument, it can be emotionally draining for everyone involved.
Sometimes you’re in the thick of it, and the family fighting concerns you directly. Other times you have to play mediator to a bunch of people who just can’t get along. And sometimes you’re both part of the fight and refereeing it—you have a very clear idea of what you want out of the fight, but you also have to make sure you’re being emotionally cognizant of everyone involved.
Ready for some conflict resolution tips? This is for everyone who’s ever thrown up their hands in exasperation and said, “Why am I always fighting with my family? Let’s put an end to all of this!”
How to stop fighting with my family
1. Resist getting emotionally involved
In the heat of an argument, emotions often run high, making it difficult to communicate effectively. It might sound impossible, but getting completely emotionally entangled in a family fight isn’t going to help you much—it’s only going to make the other people involved dig in their heels further.
Instead of personally attacking others (or getting defensive for your own sake), focus on the issue at hand. What do you actually want? Is this argument REALLY about what you think it’s about? Or are you trying to get something else: respect, recognition, love, thoughtfulness, kindness, or understanding?
Resisting getting emotionally involved will help you foster the kind of environment where an open dialogue can take place.
2. Pick your time… and your place
We’ve covered not getting too emotionally involved—but another key part of navigating family fighting involves choosing when to get involved. Is this fight devolving in private? In public? Around other family members who have their own thoughts and feelings?
The more variables at hand, the more complicated things can get. The best idea is to choose a quiet and private space where all parties feel comfortable expressing their thoughts. Timing matters too; wait for a moment when emotions are less likely to escalate.
3. Listen rather than trying to be right
To understand the root of the issue, practice active listening. Allow each family member to express their perspective without interruption. This fosters an atmosphere of respect and demonstrates a genuine commitment to resolving the conflict.
The other key part of active listening involves giving up the desire to “be right.” This is CRUCIAL for a positive outcome with family fighting. Here’s how it works: instead of thinking about all the ways you can prove to your family member—or two family members who are heavily infighting—that they’re wrong, think instead about how you can be happy after this argument is over.
Can you let go of your pride for a moment in order to stay happy? Maybe it’s not the end of the world that your husband doesn’t do the dishes on time… maybe you can choose to be happy that he takes care of the laundry and walks the dog each day.
Or maybe it’s not necessary for you to be right about your sick parent’s condition. If they think they’d be happier without as much support as you want to give them, then it might be okay for you to “let go” a bit and allow them to choose their own path.
These are hard things to do. We get that. And being right is ingrained. But you can’t always have both—so if you have to be right or happy, which are you going to choose?
4. Get someone else involved, if needed
If family fighting persists despite your best efforts, consider involving a neutral third party to mediate. This could be a trusted family friend, a counselor, or a personal coach (more on that later). A neutral mediator can help create a structured conversation, facilitating understanding and resolution.
5. Strive for compassion
When it comes to family fighting, it’s not enough to be empathetic. In fact, having too much empathy can be a drawback. Instead of getting you to a place of resolution, you get lost in your emotions… and end up being unable to help.
Instead, strive for compassion with your family. Understand where they’re coming from without losing yourself in their position. Doing this can help you foster a deeper connection with your parents, children or siblings while also easing tension between you.
6. Avoid setting boundaries
While a lot of blogs talk about establishing strong boundaries, we think they’re not always the best—unfortunately, when you spend all your time thinking about everything you don’t want your family member to do, you don’t have any time to think about what you do want them to do.
Instead of creating boundaries, try making pathways to entry. Think about the positive things you CAN agree on, instead of the negative things you CAN’T. It goes without saying that you’ll know when a line is crossed—but until that time occurs, don’t waste your energy ruminating on it.
7. Get a personal coach involved
When family fighting becomes persistent or deeply rooted, seeking personal coaching can offer much-needed support. Here are ways coaching can make a difference:
- Enhanced communication skills: Coaching provides you with tools to communicate effectively, fostering understanding and preventing misunderstandings. Improved communication can pave the way for healthier family relationships.
- A new way of thinking: Coaching helps people reevaluate their thought patterns and beliefs, allowing for a shift in perspective. This can be helpful in breaking free from ingrained family dynamics and finding new, more positive ways of interacting.
- Defining relationship goals: Coaches assist you in clarifying what you want from your family relationships. Whether it's prioritizing yourself or establishing new communication norms, coaching can guide you in creating the type of familial connections you desire.
- Emotional resilience: Family conflicts can take a toll on emotional well-being. Coaches empower people with strategies to build emotional resilience, enabling them to navigate hard situations with greater ease.
- Changing thought patterns: Coaches guide individuals in identifying and challenging negative thought patterns that contribute to family conflicts. Through defining and changing unproductive beliefs, you can develop more constructive and positive ways of thinking, fostering healthier interactions with family members.
- Prioritizing being happy over being right: Like we discussed, the desire to be right can overshadow the goal of happiness. Coaches help people shift their focus from winning arguments to prioritizing overall family well-being. This shift can lead to more collaborative problem-solving and a reduction in the intensity of conflicts.
- Defining a new relationship dynamic: Coaching gives you the tools to assess and define the nature of your relationships with family members. This involves setting clear expectations, understanding personal needs, and fostering open communication to create healthier, more fulfilling connections.
- Making new and better plans: Coaching sessions involve developing your own realistic and actionable plans for personal and familial growth. Whether it's establishing regular family meetings, creating shared responsibilities, or implementing communication techniques, coaches guide people in developing and implementing plans that contribute to positive change.
- Stress management techniques: Family conflicts often result in heightened stress levels. Coaches provide stress management techniques to help you cope with the emotional toll of conflicts. These techniques may include mindfulness exercises, relaxation strategies, and personalized coping mechanisms.
- Journaling for better conflict resolution: Sometimes, there are things you simply can’t tell family members when you’re in the middle of a fight—you might be angry, hurt, sad, frustrated or annoyed, and you may feel tempted to say something they don’t appreciate. When those moments happen, it’s key to have another outlet to express your emotions and seek support. Frame of Mind Coaching™ uses a personal two-way journaling platform to give you a space to talk over conflicts with a coach, allowing you to get support from a neutral source without taking out negative emotions on your family.
Solving the “I’m always fighting with my family” problem
Family fighting is a common yet challenging aspect of spending time with your parents, siblings, children and others. No family relationship exists without some kind of conflict—but employing strategies like staying calm, active listening, using compassion, choosing to be happy over being right and seeking mediation can all be effective in resolving conflicts.
When conflicts persist, personal coaching can be a powerful tool to enhance communication, reorient thinking, and define the kind of relationships you want to have. By combining these approaches, you can work toward healing and fostering stronger, more harmonious and more peaceful connections with the people you love.