BY MARIO K.
Regardless of how small or big, a family is supposed to be a team where every member completes and needs each other. However, just because everyone in the team spends so much time in the same house, it does not always mean that the relationship between them is always in perfect balance. Conflict is not uncommon, particularly in extended family; there can be a lot of small issues left unspoken and unaddressed. Over time, small issues develop into major problems that will break the family apart. Even nuclear families are not invulnerable to the bad effects of toxic behaviors on members’ parts. Keeping a family together requires persistent determination to solve every problem and get rid of destructive behaviors.
Here are 5 toxic behaviors that potentially destroy family relationships.
Insults and Criticism
A relationship always involves different kinds of people. Even in a family, every member has different characteristics. It is important to understand that a family can only act as an undivided completeness when everyone preserves their unique characteristics. It may sound counterproductive, but having the sense of individuality is the bare minimum requirement for a family relationship to develop in the first place. These individual differences should expand everybody’s world instead of shrinking it.
When there are differences in characteristics, criticism is almost inevitable. Let us not forget that criticism is not always a bad thing; more importantly, criticism and insults are two completely different things. An insult contains negative words said to verbally degrade another person’s characters. When insults are thrown at family members, there is an immediate chasm within the family. Even if insults are disguised as jokes, negative words still hurt. It is not just what the words say, but also how they are said. Disrespectful tones accompanied with smirks never work as criticism.
On the other hand, criticism acts as encouragement. It is indeed filled with sense of dislikes of what the criticized does or did, but the person who criticizes speaks out the words in respectful manner. Another important thing is that criticism must be taken with the same positive mental attitude. The inability to give positive response to criticism also closes the door for betterment in the relationship. A proper family helps each other to improve, and criticism plays major part in the whole process. If you have to criticize your brothers, sisters, siblings, parents, grandparents, and anybody else, say it without degrading them. In case you are the criticized, please understand that is it for the betterment of yourself and the entire family relationship.
Lack of Honesty
Deceptive behaviors and lies are destructive, not only for family relationship but also among friends and professionals. Honesty has always been the best most effective long-lasting foundation of any relationship. People have natural characteristics to protect and defend themselves under all circumstances. When they want or need something, they can choose to express their desires without any attempt at concealment or with manipulative maneuvers. For examples, someone can try to control difficult situations by playing victims. This kind of deceptive behavior is selfish and puts your own interest above others’ in the family. Lying to avoid responsibility is just another version of deception.
In a balanced ideal family relationship, it is important to be honest and blatant about what you want. Many people expect that their partners, brothers, sisters, and the entire family to be able to read minds and instantly know what they want; this fantasy-based point of view is not real and it often leads to disappointment. Being totally honest and direct about your intention or feeling can make you feel quite vulnerable indeed, but this kind of no-nonsense attitude is still the best way to maintain honest relationships in the family.
In an extended family filled with grown-ups, teenagers, and children, it can be very difficult to maintain the sense of unity. Everybody has personal preferences and different schedules on a daily basis. Certain activities can unintentionally make another feel upset or disappointed. When you express your disapproval, you need to create clear boundary between gossiping and complaining. Unlike a gossip, a complaint is based on mere facts and reasonable disagreement. Make your case by explaining the reasons why you dislike another’s activities. Feeling upset is fine as long as you can cope with all the accompanying negative emotions including jealousy, anger, and sadness.
Gossiping, divulging, spreading lies, and making false accusations about someone in the family are toxic stuffs that destroy family relationships from the inside. When you are gossiping, you indirectly encourage family members to separate and take sides. As a result, there is unnecessary and unhealthy competition between family members, leading to physical and psychological separation.
If you don’t like something that another does, express your disapproval directly to the person with reasonable explanation. In times when you are the object of the gossip, take the negative behavior wisely and clarify the truth to get rid of any suspicion or any unpleasant atmosphere that surrounds yourself and the family.
No Acceptance of Individual Differences
As previously mentioned, people of the same family have different characteristics. Just because someone is family, it does not mean the person has to have the same perspectives towards everything as you do. There is no need to be overly forceful that everyone in the family should share the same political opinions, educational backgrounds, professions, religious views, hobbies, skills, etc.
We tend to see people the way we want to see them, not as who they really are. When we like them, we put them above others and consider the rest of the group less important. The same thing happens when we dislike someone; we tend to focus on their negative sides and become completely ignorant about their good sides. Each of us has both good and bad traits. Accepting others means we respect them for what they are and embrace differences without any toxic attitudes.
Failure to Apologize and Forgive
Being part of a family is not as easy as it may look. At some point, there will be times when we hurt others’ feelings, either intentionally or unintentionally. We also cannot deny the fact that there is a little bit of stubbornness in all of us, making us feel as if we are better than others in all aspects of life. Such stubbornness is something that prevents us from apologizing sincerely. Once again, honesty is the foundation of ideal relationship because it leads everyone to realize mistakes and admit that they can be wrong.
Apology cannot undo anything, but at least it helps ease the pain afterwards. The message in an apology is clear: you admit your mistakes and ask for a chance to rebuild the damaged part of the relationship. Beyond that, an apology shows that you acknowledge someone else’s right to feel hurt and pain. A sincere apology always deserves sincere forgiveness as well. Forgiveness helps to overcome feelings of disappointment and the desire to punish others. The will to apologize and forgive is the pillar of ideal family relationship.