You have your dad, mom, and siblings. The dynamics may vary from one group to another, but regardless, they’re your family.
Then you have your grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, godparents, in-laws, and step-relatives. They’re your extended family.
Having an extended family can sometimes be a blessing or a curse, mainly depending on the situation. In most cases, the bigger the extended family is, the better. But the bigger it is, the more conflict arises.
It becomes challenging to fix family disagreements. If the situation involves your child, it’s imperative that the central decisions and responsibilities come from you and your partner. But what if you’re divorced, and new partners and stepchildren are in the mix? Then, communication becomes more paramount.
Conflicts that involve your extended family needs to be navigated with care. You can’t just bulldoze everyone with your decision because there are also other people involved. But you also can’t just stay quiet and let them rule for the sake of peace and unity, especially when it’s your core family who’s at the center of things.
So, what can you really do?
Establish common ground.
Even if it seems impossible, find a way to co-exist. This is particularly the case for step-parents, stepchildren, and step-siblings.
With your blood relatives, it’s often easy to find a common ground since you’ve been in each other’s lives practically since birth. So even when there’s conflict, and it’s bad, you can dig deep and remind yourself why you love the person and why s/he’s important in your life.
This gets tricky with the “steps,” because you’re basically opening yourself up to people you really don’t know. However, you have to consciously find some common ground to make things less awkward.
You can start with the small things like a favorite TV show, a sport you both love, or a band you both follow. Make an effort to be in a situation where you can hang out and really enjoy the time together.
This creates the start of a relationship. It also helps lessen the chances of disagreements and conflicts.
Handle family issues with humor.
At times, you just have to laugh about the situation, especially when you can’t really do anything about.
So, your mom just got married for the fourth time. Or your dad now has a live-in partner who’s practically your age. Or your brother has three 5-year old kids, but they’re not triplets, and they don’t have the same mothers. Or your relationship with your sister-in-law is dysfunctional, it makes you want to skip family visits.
These are all crazy situations, but very real for other people (or even you at the moment!). But, it’s your life. And there are things you can change – like the relationship you have with your in-laws. But there are also things you can’t control – like the love life of your family members. So, just laugh at the situation, handle things as they come and hope for the best for everyone.
Take the high road.
There’s always someone in the family that makes you just want to pack your bags and leave to avoid the drama. If you have conflict with your family’s drama queen or king, take a step back and if possible, stay on the high road.
Regardless if the conflict is petty or severe, try to keep a cool head. Bickering over a disagreement won’t help a single bit. It will just make the situation worse. And especially avoid hurling insults and low blows. Even if there’s truth in what you say, they will come back and haunt you in the end.
Face the situation like an adult that you are.
If you’re the parent, let your kids react the natural way. Again, this is mainly directed to the new addition to your family – your new partner or your ex’s new partner.
Whether you’re a kid or a grown adult, it’s still hard to swallow the reality that your parents now have new spouses. But refusing to acknowledge it or the existence of your step parents won’t be of any help. In fact, it usually strains an already shaky relationship.
While it’s important to prioritize your feelings, your life involves other people’s emotions, too. It always comes to choices and reactions. It’s not a bad thing to be loyal to your parent – in fact, it’s a natural reaction. But avoid treating your step parents like they don’t matter at all.
They deserve a chance for you to get to know them better, the same way that you are worthy of a chance from them.
Know and respect the rules.
Joining and new family and having in-laws require a huge adjustment on your part. The same thing with dealing with divorce. Both situations leave behind a wake of many outcomes. For the in-laws, it’s marking your identity as part of the family without stepping on any toes.
For the divorce, it’s settlements, child support, visitation rights, child custody, and more. It’s important to learn the legal and moral rules in both circumstances to avoid entangling yourself into a bitter mess.
Family is more than blood. Share the love with your family with these beautiful quotes!
35 Inspiring Family Quotes