Getting at the Root of the Problem
10:53:15 2024-05-15 205

1- Identify the real problem. Try to figure out what is really going on. Perhaps you are struggling with health problems or personal problems that you have been hiding from your family. Or maybe you are all grieving over a loved one who has passed away. Consider the real issue at hand, as this will allow you to then better address it.

  • You may need to engage in some self-analysis here. Why am I hiding my issue from my family? Why am I so upset at this family issue? For example, perhaps you are struggling with financial concerns over how your mother is spending her money. You may then realize that you are concerned because you do not want her to end up with no way to support herself financially, as you do not have the means to provide for her.
  • Don’t assume what other people are thinking. You need to talk to them to find out what they are really thinking. Avoid gossiping about other people in the family as this will probably get back to them and make it worse. Focus on causes, not symptoms.
  • However, a trusted family member, such as a parent or another sibling, might be able to help you figure out what is really going on, so it’s OK to talk to them in a way that is heartfelt and designed to solve or address the issue.


2- Ask questions to draw out the family member. A good technique for digging out the root causes of family problems is to ask questions rather than making statements. Statements can feel judging to people, putting them on the defensive.

  • In contrast, asking questions softens the conversation and can draw out what's really bothering the person. Questions make the family member feel like he or she is not being condemned. Ask the other family member his or her ideas for making the situation better.
  • For example, let's say that your sister has been really distant from you lately and not inviting you out for coffee like she used to. You could say, "I've noticed that we haven't seen each as much as we used to. Why do you think that is?" Or, you may try to address your mother's spending habits by saying, "I've noticed that you have been spending more money on clothing lately. Are you being responsible with money?"
  • Make sure the questions are open-ended so that they provoke the other person to elaborate. Then, truly listen to what the family member has to say.


3- Open a line of communication. Poor communication is involved in many, if not most, family problems. Shutting out the family member in question or shutting down can be a big problem. It’s hard to solve a family problem if you’re not talking. Be the person who reaches out first – no matter how hard that is.

  • Perhaps an older, wiser family member can be asked to intervene and set up a meeting or talk to the other family member first, acting as sort of a mediator. In order to open the line of communication, you will have to set aside your pride. Remember it takes a big person to be the first person to tackle the problem.
  • Ignoring the problem while it festers will probably only make it worse in the long run as the coldness grows between you. It’s better to express how you feel, but choose the right time and way to do so. For example, it may be a bad idea to bring up a family problem at the dinner table.


4- Recognize when family problems need to be discussed. When has a family problem risen to the point that it needs to be addressed? There are clear signs of family and relationship problems that have gotten out of control and need to be discussed, including frequent arguing, disagreements, angry outburst, avoidance of others, ostracizing of some family members and, in the worst cases, physical conflicts.

  • Some family problems can be caused by differences of opinion, such as differing cultural values or beliefs. Parents and children may end up not able to agree on lifestyle choices and personal preferences or beliefs.
  • Other family problems stem from mental health problems, bullying, lack of trust, change in family circumstances, financial issues, stress, and jealousy.

 

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