Family Dysfunction

How to Settle Family Disputes

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Family disputes arise in almost every family at one time or another.  With different personalities and goals can come fiery disputes over all sorts of issues.  How you handle family disputes can spell whether it will blow up into a big problem that could eventually lead to constant tension or whether the problem will get resolved with the best possible outcome.  The following are some tips on how to settle family disputes.

“Lay your cards on the table”

Sometimes family disputes explode because members of the family are upset about something, but instead of telling someone they just keep it inside of them and resent.  They resent and resent and resent.  This can lead nowhere good because the resentment might turn to anger and then it can just boil over.  When there are family disputes, the best thing is often to have everyone share their problems.  You can’t solve a problem if you do not know what it is.

“Can we talk?”

It is important to talk family disputes out.  When having a family discussion, everyone should have a turn.  You can take turns, giving everyone a chance to say how they feel about the issue and why.  Let them give the motivations for their side.  You can have them say what their ideal resolution is.  As everyone goes through this, you may begin to understand the other person’s point of view better.  Everyone in the family should be encouraged to be empathetic, to truly listen to the other people and to try to put themselves in their shoes.  Everyone should remain calm; there shouldn’t be any insults or sarcastic remarks. 

“Compromise, compromise, compromise”

You can try to see if you can come up with a compromise that would bring the most happiness to the most people.  For instance, if the fight is about one person wanting to watch program A on television and the other person wanting to watch program B then think of the different options that would be fair to both.  Perhaps you could record one and watch the other.  Maybe this week you could watch one and next week the other.  Maybe you could watch one for part of the night and the other for the other part.  Be creative in your compromises.

“All in favor?”

Sometimes you may want to do a vote.  Let’s say you are trying to decide on what restaurant you go to.  You can do a vote, and the majority wins.  However, you don’t want the dissenting person to always be out in the cold, so maybe you compromise by saying that next time you can go to their favorite restaurant.

“Heads or tails?”

Sometimes flipping a coin might be the easiest way when there is no reason to go one way or the other.  No one can feel bad that they got cheated if they didn’t win.  Again, try to make it that next time it will be their way so they do not lose what they want, they just have to postpone it. 

More about this author: Suzanne Rose

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