By Marcia Hall
No matter how amazing your family is, you will always encounter the occasional frustrating moment with them. It’s not unusual to have one or two people in your extended family that, for whatever reason, just rub you the wrong way. Most adults can navigate these situations pretty well on their own; however, when everything that person does affects your child that easygoing perspective can quickly change. There are a few tips to help address these issues in a healthy and productive way.
Define what drives you nuts. It can be easy to make small issues into bigger ones during particularly emotional moments. When you are faced with a family member that really drives you nuts, you need to define exactly what it is about that person that makes you angry. Perhaps the issue is with you just as much as the other person, and the feelings you have can be worked though without creating any kind of division within the family. If the issue at hand has more to do with how you want to raise your children or is in some other way non-negotiable, you need to recognize and verbalize to yourself and a friend why it is so important.
Define your needs in the relationship. You need to seriously ask yourself what this relationship is worth to you. If you are a single mom and this person is one of the only family members that you can turn to for help, you are going to be more willing to let go of the irritants you have in favor of the help they provide to you. However, if you have plenty of support with your kids from other means, those issues may be a bigger deal.
Don’t try and be the “fixer.” Believe it or not, some people like the way they are, even if everyone else does not. Trying to fix the annoying habits a family member has will never work and will only cause you to be more at odds with that person.
Express your concerns to the person. Very few people like confrontation, and those that do like it rarely ever go about it in the most beneficial manner. Many times people that are being annoying don’t realize how they are coming across to other people. There are plenty of relationships that could be saved if the person that is annoyed would simply and gently face the offender. Go to the person in a sincere moment. Start by saying something you really love about that person. Gently express your frustration and then offer a possible reason or solution that is realistic. End the statement with another positive thing that family member brings to your life.
Know when to walk away. There are lots of reasons to keep a relationship with a family member going, but if that relationship is causing you more stress and hardship than it is care and love, it may be time to let it go. This may not mean that you never speak to that person again, but it does mean that you stop relying on that relationship for any emotional or physical support. It means that what he thinks or does doesn’t upset you. You just let him live his life. This will not be easy, and when you start emotionally walking away from the person, he may notice and ask you why. You should be prepared to tell him. This may be easier if you have had previous conversations about your frustration; just don’t expect the person to be happy.
Remember that when it comes to your children, you are their protector. There will always be a family member or close friend that takes more emotional energy than he gives. Use your best judgment to decide how to deal with the relationship and when to let it go for the sake of your family.