Conflicts within Families
Breakdowns in family communications are caused by some of the most intractable conflicts and animosities. They can have developed over a lifetime for many reasons, which can lead to breaking off communications. A father with a tremendous drive to succeed in life to provide a higher standard of living for the family may have carried his authoritarian nature into the family life as the children were growing up. These feelings on the part of the children can lead to a writing off of the father. Yet these feelings have never been communicated to the father, and still play out in the childrens' minds almost daily. Or a sibling can can have feelings that another sibling has been treated with preference, causing a profound sense of injustice. A divorced father may not have been part of the childrens' lives at all, causing an estrangement. Or a father may feel that the children are only out for his money, after he has provided for their upbringing in a first-class way. Yet the children may feel he never treated them with respect or appreciation.
Families can have all manner of tangled web of hurt feelings. It is a profound work and requires a delicate approach to help to sort out the feelings and bring peace to a family. Just to receive agreement to engage in the process of a facilitated discussion is the first challenge. It is not easy as the deep feelings erect a barrier to meeting face to face. But with a facilitator to lead the way, the conversation is structured in a way to discuss feelings of how things said or actions taken or not taken have affected them. It is not a discussion to verbally attack or assess blame. When we speak about our feelings, the other person can not argue with our statement. They are our feelings.
The benefits are many to engaging in such a facilitated discussion. Once feelings are aired, the person on the other side can understand better the person and why he or she was upset and did not communicate. This can lead to re-establishing a relationship or at least an acknowledgement of the reasons and to relate to each other on that basis. There is then no longer a reason not to pick up the phone and talk.
An airing in this way can relieve a stress that is very real and can enter the mind at night as you try to sleep or during the days while you work. What are the downsides to having such a discussion? False perceptions can be corrected and a relationship can be re-established on a full or at least respectful basis.