Dealing with Family Drama
We attended a funeral for a very prominent lady, and left the funeral extremely sad and dumbfounded. This lady had done so much for her country and was very well known indeed. She was also the mother of four children, with only one of her children in attendance at the funeral. There apparently had been so much family drama that her children had lost all relationship with her. How could this seemingly wise, knowledgeable and loving woman die in such loneliness? How do we deal with the inevitable family drama to prevent this from happening to us?
1. Communication is key
It’s definitely true, that sometimes our teens and young adults do so many things that offend us. They can be rude. They do exactly what we’ve told them countless times not to do. They totally disregard our feelings and leave us wondering where we went wrong in raising them. Relax. You did not do anything wrong. We have to learn how to communicate with each of our teens in a way that makes sense to them. My sister who is visiting from Ghana recently told me that “Haven’t you realized that when you are talking to your kids and you raise your voice it escalates everything to a new level. Learn to stay calm. Find a point of agreement and when tempers are down, discuss things calmly.” I hadn’t even realized I did that. You can’t fight with someone who is not fighting back. You raised your teens with certain values but they’ve also gone through some experiences which have molded them to become the people they are now. These experiences influence how they communicate with you. Observe and learn what works best with your child. Sometimes you may need to back off a little or learn to see things from their perspective. Learn to talk to them and not shout at them. It makes a tremendous difference and decreases family drama.
2. Stop trying to live your teens’ life
It’s really hard as a parent to step back and observe your teens when you see them making what you think is a serious mistake in life. Your natural tendency is to swoop in and rescue them. We want to save them literally from themselves. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to step back and allow them to make their own decisions. Remember you are who you are today because of your life experiences, some of which were so painful you don’t know how you survived them. Every experience has made you the strong person you are today. Our teens will survive too. Ours is to help them learn from each experience they go through; the good, the bad and the ugly. The failure is in our teens not learning from their experiences and making the same mistakes over and over again. We need to be available to them to comfort and console them when the need arises, to congratulate them when they excel and to gently help them learn from all their actions. We cannot live their lives for them. We must believe we’ve given them the tools to make their own decisions and learn from them, no matter the consequences. Experience is indeed the best teacher.
3. Give up the emotional blackmail
I have adult friend who to this day, will not do anything without literally asking permission from their parents. There are lots of parents who themselves revert back to kids when they are around their own parents. The few times they tried to step up and take control of their own lives, their parents reminded them of all the sacrifices they made and all they had to give up to make life comfortable for them. They are emotionally blackmailed to constantly put their lives on hold, creating anguish in their hearts and sometimes strife in their nuclear families. Give up the emotional blackmail. Whatever you did for your children you did because you were the parent. Your children don’t owe you any payback. However, if you did the right thing and instilled the right values in them your children will know to support you and love you and help you for years to come. Give up the emotional blackmail. Sooner than later, your child will wake up and you may completely lose the relationship if you persist along this line.
4. Learn to forgive and move on.
When raising teens, there will invariably be misunderstanding and lots of drama that can threaten to derail a family. During these difficult times, it is so painful to go down memory lane and think of all the good times you had as a family and imagine the future you thought you would have. Learn to forgive any past indiscretions. Let your children know that you still love them and want them in your life, no matter what has gone on before. Sometimes words are spoken in anger which you probably didn’t really mean and a lot of hurt feelings are created. Do your part. Be the bigger person and call them and let them know they are loved. Be willing to apologize for your part in the rift. Parents aren’t necessarily right all the time and we must accept our shortcomings and be willing to say sorry when we need to. Don’t hang on to pride and destroy your relationship with your children. Acknowledging our mistakes teaches them to do the same and paves the way for a stronger relationship. Stop the blame game and move on. Relationships are more precious than being right.
Family drama will always be a part of life. How we deal with it will make the difference. We must learn how to communicate better with our teens. We have to step back and let our children learn from their own successes and struggles, whilst still being available to help them learn from every experience they encounter. Give up the emotional blackmail. Trust that you’ve instilled the right values in your children and that they’ll step up and do the right thing without you blackmailing them along the way. Learn to forgive and move on. Accept your own mistakes and be willing to apologize when necessary. Be willing to forgive even if you were in the right. Sometimes insisting on being right, costs you the love of your family. Deal with the family drama and keep your family close. Nothing beats the love a family shares when they’ve overcome adversity and experienced great joy together.