Family crises often lead to family drama. Effective communication is vital, both for dealing with the situation but also working together as a family unit as best as possible.
Communication can be effective, hurtful, inflammatory, intimidating, bullying, and fearful. But effective communication really can make the difference between healthy or challenging family relationships, as well as managing family drama and scary situations.
Sometimes singular medical issues, financial issues, or life events such as a divorce in the family can be dealt with more easily than an ongoing unhealthy family dynamic. I will discuss these singular issues in my next article. But the communication tips that follow will help resolve both singular and ongoing family drama.
Tips For Dealing With Difficult Family Drama
1. Healthy Communication:
Keep your emotions in check. Stay focused on the matter at hand. Stay away from blame, accusations, and threats.
2. Think Through Family Events:
Before going to a challenging event, think about what you can do if there is family drama. Will you need to leave right away?
You may want to try to work through the issue at hand, but you cannot control what the other family members will do.
Stay focused, unemotional, and nonjudgmental. Speak calmly, even if others are raising their voices. If others are getting angry and loud, suggest that people think about what they want others to understand and to meet again another time when emotions are not as strong.
Avoid right or wrong conversations and instead, focus on hearing one another without judgment. Think before you act or speak when dealing with a challenging relative or situation.
3. Set Boundaries To Limit Family Drama:
Every family has a challenging relative. Accept this as your reality that is not likely to change. You may find you often need to set boundaries with this person. Setting boundaries is not cruel. It is about not allowing yourself to be abused or taken advantage of in a difficult situation. Standing up for yourself calmly but firmly may stop this form of family drama in the future.
4. Write A Note Or Letter:
If communication is shut down, don’t be afraid to write a letter to the problematic relative. Try not to judge or blame because they will likely shut down and not respond or even read the letter.
Remember, all you can do is speak your truth. You have no control over what the other person does with your words. Once you know something, it is tough to “unknow” it. So if you speak your truth the relative is more likely to let it in, even though they may not express that to you.
5. Make Your Peace With A Challenging Relationship:
You cannot control another person. They may choose to keep their anger, distrust, negative beliefs, etc. and you need to accept that this may never change. It is their choice.
To avoid family drama, you may need to make peace with yourself that the relationship will never be what you want it to be. However, you have a choice to not let their negative comments affect you, and instead, to focus on their more favorable comments or actions. It’s not about accepting their poor behavior, but rather, is holding on to the relationship if that is what you want.
6. Limit Contact To Minimize Family Drama:
Limiting family contact can be very painful to experience, but sometimes a relationship can be too toxic for you, and you may need to take a break from them.
Sometimes taking that break helps the other person think about their part in the dynamic. If they want the contact, they may choose to try to be more pleasant in future connections.
Another option is to keep the contact very brief, light, and limited. But often this may still be too unhealthy. Pay attention to how you feel inside when you think about that relationship. Do you need time away, or perhaps to send a brief note? Avoiding a relationship is not ideal, but may be your only recourse to avoid this ongoing family drama.
Click HERE for a cute video explaining this concept.
Managing complicated family drama is also about managing your expectations about your family relationships. What does each relationship mean to you? How much effort are you willing to invest in making it better? What are your limits on this issue?
Relationships are work, and it is even more work to have quality relationships. However, you have a choice in the matter. But remember, you have no control over the other family member. However, you can control the type and frequency of your contact with them, especially when it involves family drama.
For further reading, please see my article How To Cope With Family Drama Without Falling Apart.