Can this family be fixed?

Done with work and especially done with that guy or woman in the office that just doesn’t get it. If she really understood this business, she would never ask the things she asks.  Don’t know why you have to put up with her.  Just glad you can go home now, or maybe not. 

You want to pull into the driveway, but the kids’ toys are in the way. You walk into the house and there’s a bag on the table. What did he buy today?  He’s always spending money you don’t have. Maybe this has been going on so long, it’s all playing through your head even before you get home, so you go by the bar just to have one to take the edge off. So you sit in the bar stewing and fretting over your lot in life. This isn’t the way you envisioned it. 

You think about that person you married. If they would just be more understanding, more sensitive to how hard you work, all the things you do. Why don’t they see things the way you see them?  After all, what other way is there?  If they were just more kind, less crabby,  more loving, everything would be so much better.

Have you reached the end of your rope?  Are you done with that spouse?  Is it time to move on?  You’ll never be the person you want to be because of them … or can this family be fixed?  What would it take to make some real changes here?  Is it worth the effort?

The easy and the hard answer is yes, changes can be made. Hard because when you believe things will improve only if the other person changes, that perception is the problem. You have to start with the corner of the world where you have the most influence, and that is yourself.

Pull out that copy of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. When the seven habits become ingrained into your life, you will see change.

        1.  Be Proactive. Don’t be reactive.
        2.  Begin with the end in mind. Have a plan.
        3.  Put first things first. Prioritize your actions.
        4.  Seek first to understand … then to be understood.
        5.  Think win / win.
        6.  Synergize.  1 + 1 = more than 2.
        7.  Sharpen the saw. As the Boy Scouts say, keep yourself physically fit, mentally awake, and morally straight.

                           I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
                           I’m asking him to change his ways.
                           And no message could have been any clearer,
                           If you wanna make the world a better place,
                           Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

                                      — Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard
                                           recorded by Michael Jackson

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Is your family dysfunctional?

“Dysfunctional family” was popular psych talk for quite a while.  You could blame a lot of bad behavior on having come from a dysfunctional family.  Not to minimize the problems that it causes, but my friend Dave Ramsey likes to say that it probably means there are humans in it. Any family with humans in it is probably going to have some dysfunction, assuming a “functional” family is like the Huxtables of Bill Cosby fame.

Pastor Bruce Cole has on occasion referred to the Bible as God’s big book of dysfunctional families, no disrespect intended.  A man and woman wait their whole lives for a child to be born. When one finally is, God whispers in the man’s ear, “Show me you love me, sacrifice your child on the altar.”  Just as the man is about to carry through with the act, God says, “I’m just yanking your chain, here use this goat instead.”  My bad … I took a lot of dramatic license in the retelling of that story. Forgive me, Lord.  Just one example.

It’s difficult for me to write about family although I feel compelled to do it.  I am the primary perpetrator of bad behavior in my family.  I am naturally reactive (aren’t we all?), although I am a student of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and I know Habit 1 is “Be Proactive”.  My family sometimes gauges what they do and say on how they think I am going to react to it. I’ll bet you have people in your family with whom you do the same thing. Trust me, It is as difficult being that person as it is dealing with them.  You don’t want people walking on eggshells around you, so I do fight the reaction demon every day.   The good news is that most of the time I win the battle, but I do have my days. Having a problem person in the family takes patience and perseverance, but it also requires setting boundaries. Sometimes it means tough love and letting that person take the rap for their bad behavior.