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How to Avoid Family Conflict

By Linda Ray ; Updated June 13, 2017

Family conflicts can seem like the most intense disagreements because they involve the people to whom you are closest. Family of origin relationships carry a long history that can involve ongoing issues, while in-laws sometimes bring a whole new bag of potential conflicts because of cultural and political differences. At the same time, your immediate family is made up of the people who demand attention daily. While you may not always agree with your family members, you can avoid conflict by setting boundaries and choosing your battles.

Set boundaries for conflict resolution. According to Healthy Children.org, disagreements and debate are healthy components of most relationships and need not be completely avoided as long as everyone present sticks to preset rules. For example, when voices begin to rise, you may elect to end the discussion and agree to continue it when tempers subside.

Choose your battles. According to counselors at the Salvation Army, it's better to let certain issues slide rather than make a big deal about every difference, especially around the holidays when tension is high and family togetherness is expected.

Encourage your family to end an ongoing conflict by setting up a meeting for that purpose. According to the Clemson Extension Service, a family can learn to collaborate to end conflicts by practicing. Appoint one person to moderate the discussion and keep talking until you come up with a solution to the conflict.

Remain neutral when a touchy subject comes up. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the family member who can stay neutral during family conflicts can help each family member articulate her thoughts. You then can rephrase the sentiments to try to come to mutual understandings and find compromise.

Plan your time together so little room is left for arguing. When preparing a family reunion or holiday event, carefully construct a plan that has everyone busy with activities, eating and chores to divert their attention from brewing conflicts. If you can't arrange for everyone to stay busy, at least make sure your time is well-choreographed.

Tips

You may automatically become hostile towards various family members even before a conflict arises based on your history together. Prepare yourself by mentally preparing to keep an open mind. People change and mature and develop new ideas. You may learn something or have an enjoyable time when you remain open-minded.

Warnings

The past is full of land mines that most often are best left buried. Avoid stepping on those mines by refusing to bring up past incidents and wrongs. Reliving the past can create conflicts even when none exist in the moment.

Children are sponges and will be watching as you interact with your family members. Remember that you are teaching them how to handle disagreements and anger when you become involved in family conflicts.

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