Most families encounter disagreements or difficult interactions. Some level of tension or disagreement is a normal part of family life.
When these interactions become a regular occurrence, this tension could be a red flag of a more serious problem. A family is an interdependent system, and thus each member of the family can be impacted in different ways by these challenges.
Family problems arise from a range of issues within or outside of the family. Common reasons for family problems center on major events, such as death, divorce, life transitions, or illness.
A psychological problem in the family can also be the cause, including substance use, anxiety, and depression.
Finally, the family problem could be caused by changing roles in the family, such as the following examples: children maturing or leaving home, parent responsibilities shifting due to career, loss of health, and other significant re-structuring of family life.
Thinking of the family in terms of a system that relies on all of its parts to function can help to understand why family problems arise.
A good way to understand the family system is to consider the family in terms of gears and cogs in a machine. Each cog is functionally important and necessary for the whole system to work. The whole family is affected by the action of one member, and the whole family can affect a single member.
When family problems arise, it can be useful to remember that everyone is part of the same system with parts that correspond and work well with the others. When the system is not working well and it is much more challenging to try to get the system to work than it used to be, you may be experiencing family problems that need to be addressed by a professional.
What do challenges with Family Problems look like?
- Causing food fights with siblings?
- Bickering much more than normal?
- Frustrating you with argumentative interactions?
- Challenging to engage in conversation?
- Impacting the whole family with his or bad behavior?
- Ruining your whole day at work as you think about an argument from that morning?
- Participating in a constant stream of negative, unhealthy patterns of communication? In other words, does it feel like your family could get along better?
Why is Family Problems happening?
Clinically, family problems present as conflicts between members. Common issues in families are: a child with problematic or oppositional behavior, parental relationship problems, or parents’ disapproval of a child’s decisions. Regarding oppositional behavior, a child with extreme temper tantrums, frequent meltdowns, bad attitude, or rule-breaking behavior will impact the family system dramatically. In terms of relational issues, often, when children witness parents engaged in constant arguing, discord, or are aware of the potential for separation, the family system is dramatically impacted.
Some parents may show an unhealthy disagreement pattern whereby they pull their own adult issues into disagreements with their children.
This inconsistency and lack of clarity in parenting has a significant impact on the welfare of the children and on the system as a whole. Other issues that cause family problems include: mental health issues in a family member, substance abuse, changing roles of family members, and major events such as moving or death of a relative. When family members are resilient, perhaps due to a fairly healthy life prior to the significant event, it may be possible to navigate tough times more naturally. However, in an already stressed out system, one major event may be enough to knock down the whole house of cards.
Patterns of family problems are different for each family. Some families experience a “shutout,” in that members refuse to engage or talk to others. Some families experience loud, angry conflicts. Some families are constantly fighting, while others are quiet, reserved, and may ‘shove feelings under the rug.’ Whatever the pattern, families usually report they feel exhausted and drained from these encounters. Each member usually has his or her own unhappy experience. The role of clinicians is generally to help your family address communication styles and patterns. By identifying what is not being said, the family can learn how to hear each member and to communicate his or her own experiences and needs.
How can I manage Family Problems at home?
If you suspect your family is encountering serious family problems, then first and foremost you should consult a psychologist or family therapist. Other options include the following:
- Adjusting the schedule: Adding consistency to the schedule can help children cope with changes. It is also a way to make sure quality time together is on the calendar. Make time for family therapy in everyone’s calendar if you determine it is what’s best for your family
- Making time for conversations: It is important to discuss family problems. Setting aside time to discuss how a child is handling changes and to share your own experiences helps the process be less scary and unknown
Scheduling positive time: No matter what, it is important to have positive time together. Ending the day positively can be very therapeutic. Even if arguments or disagreements happened earlier, setting aside a regular time to enjoy your child and family time can be a great way to reset and can serve as a reminder of how important everyone is
- Process: Taking time to process the experience as a family can help everyone remember that you are a special unit that can solve problems together
How can Clear Child Psychology help with Family Problems?
We Help You, Immediately
Our Free Discovery Session is a 20-minute consultation where we can talk one-on-one about the concerns and questions you have about your child.
We Help Determine Next Steps
Our Initial Consultation allows us to get a deeper understanding of your child’s needs and determine if an assessment is appropriate.
We Build a Customized Plan
Our Assessments allow us to determine your child’s specific strengths and challenges. We can use this information to develop a customized support plan which includes: referrals
We Connect you with the Right Professionals
Once we understand your child’s needs, we will help families get connected to the right specialists. No more guesswork, no more wasted time and resources.
We Provide Ongoing Coaching and Support
Our Coaching Packages allow us to continually support families as they continue their journeys. Parental coaching, life-skills practice, and school advocacy are just a few examples of ways we help.