Fighting for Peace by Cathy Clevenger, LCSW
For many families, the morning can feel like a war zone every day of the week. For other families, the end of the day has us wondering if this is going to be another evening of feeling frustrated, agitated or extremely angry. If you’re not the angry one, then you’re concerned about someone else in the home. When we think of being with our family, ideally, we would like to enjoy our time together as much as possible. The reality is we are often tired, feeling overwhelmed and/or experiencing stress in many areas of our lives. Children and teenagers also experience these same emotions at the end of their day and their emotions are as valid as our emotions as adults. So, you ask yourself how can I fight for peace in my household? How can I help make it a nurturing environment with happy memories and laughter?
First, remember that you only have control over yourself and your choices. Each family member will have to choose to invest in making family time happy and enjoyable. Although we may be tired, putting effort and energy into creating this type of environment is one of the most important things any family member can do. The process will require work. Start by asking yourself what usually leads to the fighting, tension and/or anger. Then ask yourself how the family could handle these issues differently. If I don’t like the way a therapy session has gone or a situation in my own personal life, I’ve learned to ask myself how I could deal with it differently in the future. I brainstorm ideas and then try to implement the changes to see what works best. Second, I have learned that when frustration and anger begin to escalate, we need to quickly change gears and work on de-escalating the situation. Screaming and hurtful words only damage relationships. You want to build healthy, positive relationships within in your family. Start with one or two small changes and once you have mastered these changes of habit move on to other changes. Habits can be changed if you take one step at a time and remind yourself of what you are working towards.
If you need help with changing your family interactions, we at the Barnabas Center are here to help you brainstorm new ideas and change defeating patterns in your family interactions. We want you to be able to have a nurturing and joyful home environment, not perfect, but definitely an environment everyone wants to come home to each day.