As they say, we can choose our friends but we can’t choose our family. This idea highlights how we are ‘assigned’ parents and siblings with no choice in the matter. This means, that often we can experience clashes of personality, temperament, and even differing values.
Often siblings can experience very disparate upbringings, even in the same household, with the same parents. There are many issues that families can be exposed to, for example, differences between family members, issues of jealousy or clashes between siblings, arguing parents, separation and divorce, mental or physical health problems, housing problems, unemployment, money issues, domestic violence, abuse or neglect, loss and bereavement, and differences between generations, cultures, and values.
All of this informs who we become, and how we navigate relationships, and our world, because it impacts the family unit. Therapy however can facilitate difficulties and differences so that families grow stronger together, rather than fracture apart.
Family members begin to grow apart, they may avoid one another in communal areas, and stay in their own spaces in the house. This impacts other members of the household who notice it and may have to choose where they spend their time.
We spend a lot of time in the company of our family members, and so it is not uncommon to disagree and sometimes argue. But when this is constant, it can become a bigger problem and harm the home environment and family.
When problems are constant and ongoing, they remain unresolved and become like a crack in ice, one that can splinter and eventually shatter. The family grow further apart and emotionally distant. This usually negatively affects all family members and makes unassisted reconciliation almost impossible.
It is not just the relationship between members who are arguing or unable to get along that is impacted. Other members of the family may feel pressured to take sides or develop hostile feelings toward one member because of their interpretation of the situation.
In some families there are members that have not spoken to one another for years, or who actively seek to harm one another. This highlights the importance of resolving family issues sooner. Such feuds are damaging for those in question and the rest of the family, impacting family events, and the family experience for everyone, in the long term.
Some family members will stop communicating altogether because they just can’t get along. This can impact the unit as a whole, because other family members have to witness it and may have to act as mediators.
Families often fragment because of the ways they are harmed by unresolved issues. This means they no longer share activities and time together, living together but doing things separately. At first they may feel the isolation, but over time, become accustomed to the change. But this does not mean they are okay with it, just that they feel they have to be.
There are many factors that can lead to issues in families. There might be differences between family members, such that they are unable to agree and get along. For example, some parents disagree on things that relate to the raising of children, which can lead to conflict and arguments.
Children may experience jealousy and resentment toward one another if they feel they are treated differently or feel inferior in some way compared to a sibling. This can lead to clashes that cause disturbance within families.
The above and below issues can lead to arguing parents, which impacts the parents themselves and therefore their ability to give children the kind of security and attention they need. When parents argue, it also affects the children directly, causing significant psychological, mental, and emotional impact.
When someone in the family is struggling with substance misuse, or mental or physical health problems, there can be added strain for the family, resulting in additional problems.
Problems with the housing situation, employment, or family income can create turbulence, adding pressure, worry, and stress for families.
Any kind of abuse or neglect is harmful for individual family members and the family unit, resulting in additional problems, including mental health problems.
In some families, issues arise due to generational and cultural divides, which often result in differences in values between members.
Loss and bereavement can create devastation for families, such that rather than support one another through the difficult time, families become fragmented and members feel isolated and alone, on top of their grief and sorrow.
Disagreements about how to raise the children, discipline them, about their schooling or religion can create discord in families.
Work-life imbalance can mean that families are unable to spend quality time together, this is important for emotional bonds and connection so needs more priority.
Inability to communicate effectively means that miscommunications occur and this causes additional problems that could otherwise be avoided. A lack of efficient communication also impacts the quality of relationships and the ability to compromise and resolve issues.
At Phinity we will aim to support you and your family by helping you to work together to resolve problems. It is important to realise that problems do not have to be severe before you seek therapy, and that even the ‘healthiest’ of families need help sometimes.
We will seek to address (verbal and non-verbal) communication styles and how these impact the unit, as well as how they might be improved.
We will work with you to understand individual issues that prevent family cohesion, this understanding can help you tailor and optimise how you respond to one another, for improved relationships.
If we think it will benefit, sometimes we will suggest individual sessions for some family members, alongside family sessions.
Often problems occur within families and continue unaddressed, this means that unhelpful patterns form and set in, adding to problems. Family therapy can help to identify these and offer ways for you to problem solve together, and recognise and disrupt vicious cycles.
Please see some of the recommended therapies for family issues below.
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