Even the closest and most loving families have disagreements and family fights. However, the key is not to let it escalate. And here’s how:
Generally speaking, airing out differences isn’t bad. It can actually be a productive experience if it leads to mutual understanding and compromise.
And it’s always healthier to “let it out” than to bottle it in and get ulcers. However, there are those family fights that escalate and do more harm than good.
When destructive family fights are underway, keep these five tips in mind:
1. Time Out
These family fights can be between you and your spouse, you and your children, or it’s a nasty siblings’ battle, taking a break to “cool off” can bring things into perspective.
One easy way to do this is to have a “break-the-fight signal” as part of your family rule. Similar to a boxing match where a “gong” directs both contestants to go back into their corners, choose something (this could be a bell, hand signal or a certain word) that will signal the arguing family members to take a break.
A break can mean one goes out for a walk or simply in another room. However, before taking the time out, each party has to agree on a certain time to meet again to resolve the issue.
2. Feeling vs. Blaming
Talk to your family about how important it is to share how one feels, rather than pointing the finger at the other person and telling them, “You did this,” or “You did that.”
For example, when your child gets sick, instead of blaming each other, try to figure out what the reason for it is.
It may be the water you are drinking at your home is not pure, so the solution could be getting a quality water purifier for your home.
Putting the other person on the defensive is sure to provoke more yelling matches.
Instead, share how you are feeling when the other person is doing something that affects you.
“When you come home late, I feel…” or, “I feel you don’t trust me, when…” This is less likely to make the other person defensive, and you won’t say something that you will regret later. The truth is that some family fights can be avoided.
3. Writing It Out
Encourage your family members to write about what upsets them. This can be done during the “time out” period or before first approaching the other person with an “issue.”
Again, it’s important that it’s written in the “I feel” language, and not “so-and-so is a moron because…” When someone is reading something they prepared in writing, the rule is that they have the floor.
This means the other person can’t interrupt and has to let the person finish. In return, once finished, the person who has done the talking has to patiently listen to the response.
This method can help for arguments to become more thoughtful and less aggressive.
This may be a stretch for some, but you can also ask that the last part of the writing process is to answer the question, “What can I do to make this situation better?” to prevent further family fights.
4. The Facilitator
Sometimes the fight may have reached a dead end and neither party is willing to budge. It may last for days, hanging like a dark cloud over your whole family.
That’s when you call in “the facilitator.” Designate a relative or close friend to your immediate family that everyone feels comfortable with.
The facilitator’s role is not to take sides, but to mediate the discussion between the arguing family members. It’s like going to a counselor, but a lot less expensive.
That person may decide to talk to each person individually before bringing everyone together. The key is that the facilitator remains objective and is good at listening and asking problem-solving questions, such as, “What is the one thing right now that would make you less upset?” …to avoid further family fights.
5. Will It Matter Five Years From Now?
Someone once said that if it won’t matter in five years, then it’s not worth fighting about now. That’s good to keep in mind when you are in the midst of arguing about who is right or wrong, or if your spouse or child pushed some of your buttons.
We tend to enlarge the drama in the present, but once we look at the bigger picture, it may actually appear silly and really not worth the whole family fights.
So next time you feel your blood pressure rising or you see any of your family members getting into it, ask, “Will this matter five years from now?” The answer to that question may quickly cool many family fights.
What to do When Your Parents Fight
It can be pretty tough when your parents or stepparents are fighting. Remember, even people who love each other fight sometimes. And just because they fight doesn’t mean they’re going to stay mad for long or that they’re going to get a divorce.
It’s natural for people who live together and spend a lot of time with each other to sometimes disagree and lose their tempers. Just think of the last time you and your brother or sister got into family fights. You didn’t really mean all those things you said, did you? In the end, you probably made up. The same goes for parents.
If you get really upset when your parents fight, you might want to talk to them about your feelings. Sometimes, parents don’t realize that their arguing makes kids feel upset. If you tell them how you feel, they’ll probably try to stop or at least explain to you why they are disagreeing.
When You Fight With Your Parents
It’s hard to believe it, but your parents were once kids, too. It might seem like they don’t understand you — but don’t give up. Remember that they don’t really want to make things difficult for you. Your parents care about you, but sometimes it’s just hard for them to easily see your point of view.
A parent’s job is to look out for you and keep you safe — until you’re old enough to take care of yourself (and some parents have trouble giving up watching out for their kids even then)!
Usually, kids who have family fights with their parents learn to get along with them eventually. This is especially true if kids are able to talk to their parents about how they feel and what’s important to them.
Keep in mind, though, that this can take time and a lot of patience. It’s not always easy. Talking to your parents about your opinions — instead of screaming and yelling at them — will also make them listen to you a little more closely. Plus, you’ll gain respect and learn how to compromise with them.
Tips on Family Fights
If you’re upset or angry, try to keep your cool. Sometimes, the more you show your anger or frustration, the more the person you’re fighting with will want to annoy you. Try coming up with an idea that can solve your conflict or problem so it doesn’t happen again. For example, if you’re fighting over who gets to play on the computer, make up a chart with a schedule of when each person gets to use it.
If you feel like you’re so angry you could burst, go to your room and punch your pillow, go out and run a lap around the block, or find a place outside to hit a baseball. Or just find a quiet place and relax. Count to 10 and breathe slowly and deeply. When you’re calm, try talking things out with the person you’re arguing with. You’ll probably feel much better and more in control than you did before.
Even if you’re angry at someone in your family, you should never push, punch, kick, or shove or indulge in family fights. You could really hurt or injure the person, besides causing him or her to get more angry and the argument to get even worse. If someone physically hurts you, it’s important to tell a parent. It’s also important to tell an adult you trust if your parent ever hurts you.
If you think your family needs to work on this, you could call a family meeting to talk about it. In the meeting, everyone should get a chance to talk and a chance to suggest solutions. It’s a good way to get everyone working on the problems together.
Sometimes, your parent may ask everyone to visit a family counselor or therapist to talk about the problems and get advice from a professional on how to deal with (and stop) the fighting in your family. It’s not always easy to control family fights, but by working together, it can be done.