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Dealing With Family Stress

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One of the problems with family stress is the fact that is knows where you live.  After all, it tends to show up exactly where you live: at home.  This tends to be a bad thing, since working people generally try to come home in order to relieve their stress.  Of course, it is even worse for those who are full-time homemakers, since the source of stress is there all the time.  In fact, even going to a job every day seems like it would be a nice stress relief. Thus, when family stress starts rearing its ugly head, it is time to take stock of things and figure out a way of lessening it.

The first thing to do, when dealing with family stress, is to let go of the illusion that the home is somehow a place a rest and tranquility that is utterly free from any sort of stress.  Let's face it, it's just not true.  Though you love your family and enjoy spending time with them, home life can be very stressful.  After all, you have many people there who have a lot of expectations of you and you cannot fulfill all of those expectation all of the time. So understand that stress can enter the home and you will be halfway there.

The next step in lessening family stress is to actually spend time with your family.  One of the best ways to spend time with your family is at the dinner table.  Just sitting down with your entire family and enjoying a meal is a way to connect with everyone.  Do not eat dinner in front of the television but, rather, sit in the dining room or kitchen and just share a meal.  At first, it may be quiet and there may not be much to talk about, but this will come in time.  As it slowly sink into your family members' minds that there is nothing to do but talk to each other, conversation will start flowing.

The next step in alleviating family stress is to have fewer expectations of your family members.  Yes, you expect your spouse to be absolutely devoted to everything you say and do, you expect your kids to be straight-A students and you expect your home to be immaculate all the time every day. Tip for you: Not going to happen.  Homes are not perfect any more than people are perfect.  As in, not at all. Imperfections are part of home life and you will need to learn how to deal with them.  Accept the bad, enjoy the good, and let everyone be human.  Then everyone will have much less stress and, as a result, everyone will be much happier.

Next, accept the fact that you are not a superhero. Despite the fact that you want to be able to work hard every day, spend plenty of time with your kids, drive them to every sports/music/dance practice and be there for every game/recital/performance, it is not going to happen.  Yes, you can make every effort to be there all the time and it is very important that you try, you cannot be everyplace all at once.  Learn to appreciate the fact that you are not going to be perfect.  You may try and you may be largely successful, but you cannot be everything you wish you could be.  So accept your own humanity and allow yourself to be human too.

Finally, when you want to relieve family stress, do not force it.  Yes, you want everything to come easy and you want to be able to connect with your kids all the time, but that is not always possible.  Children change, often in surprising ways, and you need to learn how to accept that. This is especially difficult with teenage children, since they tend to be moody, elusive, and sometimes even obnoxious.  However, by accepting them for who they are and dealing with the fact that they are not ready to open up to you all at once, you will relieve a great deal of family stress.  This is especially true if you have not been able to reach them for some time, since they tend to be closed off and reluctant to open up to their parents.  So accept that it will take some time for you to make some connections and understand that things may not always be as easy as you hope.  After all, if something was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing, would it?

Family stress is difficult to deal with, but it is not impossible.  By accepting your own limitations, as well as those of your family, you can save yourself a lot of worry and concern by simply understanding that your family is composed of different people.  Different people who have their own lives, their own concerns, and their own unique way of seeing things.  By accepting that, you can understand their points of view and come to grips with the fact that family stress is, oftentimes, just a fact of life.


By Trevor Dumbleton
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