Monday, October 29, 2007

Appreciate your family.

We all have problems with our families. We often live apart and endure long distance relationships, or have mothers and in-laws who are too nosy, deal with sibling rivalry, or have those lazy relatives who mooch off of everyone. Might as well enjoy them – you’re stuck with them anyway. Why not make the best of it?

How you might ask? Ah, now that is not a simple answer. First off, I would encourage you to stop trying to change them. Yes, I know it’s hard, I struggle with it myself at times. But people who are bossy, selfish, loud, rude, and cheap don’t typically like to be lectured or criticized anymore than you do. It only adds to the irritation for both of you and doesn’t promote peace.

If you have a cheap uncle, don’t ask him to bring the wine or dessert. Put your loud brother in charge of entertaining the kids or manning the barbeque. Put the bossy mother-in-law in the kitchen and let her organize the meal. Write letters and cards to the loud or rude relatives instead of calling. Work with their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

Remember you have to deal with these people for a long, long time to come. Making an extra effort can make all the difference. If you really want harmony in the family, consider being the one to apologize, even if you feel you are right. Just say, “I’m sorry we haven’t talked much lately. I miss you and would like to get together more often.” Be aware that you don’t have to spend time with everyone in your family. It’s totally up to you.

Sometimes just taking that first step is all it takes. If two people are stubbornly fighting each other and one decides not to argue anymore, it leaves room for change. Calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or taking on responsibility for a reunion can go a long way. And when their quirks and habits annoy and irritate you, you can smile since you know they will be gone in a few hours or a few days. It may even help you appreciate your spouse and children more than before. Good luck!

1 comment:

Megan B. said...

Shirley, I really like what you've said here. Especially, "Work with their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses." That's HUGE in terms of having peaceful family gatherings. For example, one prominent member of my family happens to be all doom & gloom about most everything, so no matter what topic we're discussing, he sees the worst in it. Since I know this going in, I tend to avoid topics that will be particular hot buttons for him, and focus our conversations on things he finds fewer faults with. (His hobbies are among them.)

I also learned to let a lot of stuff go and just be me, regardless of my family's opinions (aka: fears). It took me awhile to realize that just like I want to be me, they want to be them --- and it's all okay! We don't need to be similar to have a good time or love each other. We do, however, need to be accepting!