Most of us want to be part of one big, extended, happy family. Some kind of modern Walton — everyone was always on good terms, happy with each other’s eccentricity, and never argued. But for the majority, that’s not the reality.
Most families have unresolved tensions, old wounds, and repetitive battles lurking behind the closet. Things can get even worse when new members join the ranks, or when we create a family chosen away from the original family.
For some, it may explain why they have too many relationships with their family and relatives and some individuals choose a “less contact” relationship with their family. there is.
As the name implies, it involves reducing communication with families with whom you have a tense or destructive relationship. “Low contact” can refer to creating physical distance by limiting the amount of time spent with someone, or it can refer to the establishment of emotional separation.
This means minimizing the amount of personal information and personal information shared with these families. A thread in the Parenting Forum where people advise each other on the best way to navigate low-contact relationships and discuss whether it is okay to reduce contact with grandparents if they are behaving harmfully or rudely. there is.
The topic of family alienation and separation is often taboo and carries a lot of stigma, but it seems to affect more families than you think.
In the UK, Stand Alone, an organization for people experiencing marginalization, reports that it is a problem affecting one in five British people.
Today, there are some examples that draw attention to changes in family dynamics and tensions. Angelina Jolie and her father Jon Voight became estranged, and Jennifer Aniston talked about a tense bond with her mother Nancy Dow, but the two settled before Dow’s death. ..
Currently the hottest are Harry Windsor and Megan Markle, who are open to the difficulties experienced by their families. Megan seems to be estranged from most of her relatives, except for her mother Doria Ragland. Her father Thomas frequently interviewed about his desire to meet his grandson.
Meanwhile, in that now-famous Oprah Winfrey interview, Harry himself talked about the tension between his brother and his father. According to Harry, Prince Charles stopped answering the phone for a long time-although it’s controversial-and his relationship with William “is taking up space at this point,” he told Opla.
Family contact has reportedly improved since then, but some tension remains.
In his book Fault Lines: Fractured families and how to repair themDr. Karl Pillemer, a family sociologist at Cornell University, states that there is a “common route” to marginalization and fallout in the family.
These include unresolved childhood history / upset issues that we bring into adulthood, divorce or separation issues, inheritance and money issues, lifestyle and values discrepancies, and caring for older parents. Includes “unsatisfied expectations” such as disagreements about how to do.
At times, less family contact may be essential to an individual’s survival.
“Our family is always our family, but that doesn’t mean we always have to have them in our lives,” said the Irish Counseling Psychotherapy Association, which runs Wick Lowell. Says Martina Jones, a counselor and member of.
She says there is a great stigma surrounding alienation and pressure on individuals to have a strong relationship with the whole family.
“Difficulty happens in the family story and in every” should “go with the family,” she says. “You need to get along with your family, grow up with your brothers and build great and healthy relationships. We always hear that” family is everything. ” “
But Jones says it’s essential to draw boundaries if the relationship doesn’t foster positive mental health, and if it’s corroding your sense of self and well-being.
Before establishing a low-contact relationship, she encourages herself to ask some important questions.
“Do I want a relationship with this person? What kind of relationship can I have with them? Is it okay if I get indignant and hurt every time I leave? And that stresses me And what can I do about it if it’s causing pain? “She says. “It’s about [seeing if you can] Find a level that can exist with this person. “
Practical is recommended if you want to maintain the relationship. Establish how much time you are willing to spend in their company and what group dynamics are most effective — is it easy to meet at a get-together or one-on-one? Do you like? “Setting boundaries,” says Jones, “this is the only way I can have a relationship with you.”
“Even if it’s an annual phone call, it’s the only way to be my father, mother, brother … that’s your requirement.” Jones says that reducing contact is an unsolved problem or It does not eradicate the feelings of hurt, but it does prevent destructive behavior.
Things take another dimension when there is tension with your step-in-law. Psychologists are encouraged to work with their partners as a unit. If you feel that you need a less contacting relationship with one of your partner’s family, please respect that their relationship may be different.
Encouraging your partner or your children to join you and reduce contact with certain individuals can have long-term consequences.
“If there are proceedings or domestic violence, it’s a completely different story,” says Dr. Dean McDonnell, a member of the Irish Psychological Association (PSI). “Then you need to protect your child as much as possible.”
But if the problem lies in personality conflicts or different perspectives on how to raise a child, restricting access should be a last resort, he says.
Dr. McDonnell believes that while it may be unpleasant to be around a family we hate or despise, it is beneficial to expose our children to different people and situations. increase.
“When you start excluding individuals, family and friends, you start excluding people who give you incredible perspectives on different styles, different lives, different everything,” he says.
“Also, in a way, you’re creating hostility. What if you’re walking down the street and hit that person? What happens? Cross the road? Then you’re yours Teach the children to avoid your problems and avoid your problems. “
But on the other hand, it is also important to teach children not to accept rude behavior. Both Dr. McDonnell and Jones recommend exploring other paths before choosing low or non-contact. Jones says it’s important to prioritize your health and your well-being when all the roads are exhausted.
“It’s about respecting what we need,” she says. “There is no compelling reason that we should be despised by anyone.”