Accept Your Family With The Help Of Online Counseling
Family relationships are not always in alignment with a person's preferences. Accepting family members can sometimes be difficult, and a lack of acceptance can significantly impact family cohesion. Cohesion is the opposite of conflict. It is marked by strong emotional bonds driven by feelings of caring, affection, and support. When one family member struggles to accept another, cohesion will likely decrease, and conflict will increase, significantly disrupting the entire family unit.
Even if a lack of acceptance isn't apparent to other family members, it can still create a burden that makes healthy, positive interactions with family more difficult. Someone who wants to accept their family but struggles to do so may feel as though the burden is insurmountable, but there are options. There are simple ways to begin increasing acceptance today, and if the problem is too challenging to tackle alone, a therapist can help.
Common Reasons For A Lack Of Acceptance
A lack of acceptance is often either the cause of - or results from - family conflict. Conflict pushes family members apart, and unresolved conflict often occurs when one or more family members cannot accept the thoughts, feelings, or behaviors of another. Some conflicts are normal and are present in every family, but prolonged or severe conflicts can significantly impact family cohesion. Conflict and a lack of acceptance can sometimes lead to estrangement, where a family member cuts ties completely, often permanently.
Communication also plays a significant role in accepting other family members. Strong communication is an essential part of a family with strong connections, and communication skills like perspective-taking, reframing, and active listening are all helpful when learning to accept another person. Poor communication can have the opposite effect, and lacking communication makes family conflict much more difficult to resolve.
Here are a few more common reasons why family conflict occurs:
Family members can encounter financial concerns in several ways. Two spouses may disagree over how money should be spent, or increased stress from financial burdens may impact their relationship. Adult siblings might argue over an inheritance or how aging parents' finances should be handled. Setting boundaries when money is involved can be challenging, and resentment may quickly develop if family members disagree about vital financial issues.
It may be difficult to accept changes in family roles or responsibilities when one or more family members must act as a caregiver to another family member. Aging parents, childbirth, illness, and injury can drastically redefine the roles played by certain family members. Caregiving responsibilities have been shown to substantially increase stress among family members, even when a change in role is expected, such as the birth of a child.
Changes In Family Dynamics
Family dynamics change over time, most commonly through romantic relationships. It can sometimes be difficult to accept a family member's spouse or partner, and it can be challenging to accept the loss of a family member, such as through death or divorce. Lack of cohesion between new and old family members is one significant reason family members become estranged, and conflict is likely to present if a family member isn't wholly accepted.
Political And Religious Differences
Personal views, like a person's religious preferences and political leanings, are often deeply held beliefs that carry a substantial emotional weight. Accepting family members with differing opinions can be challenging, especially if they directly conflict with your own. Reducing political and religious conflict is often achieved through finding and accepting common ground, but some conflicts, such as those rooted in hate, may not be resolved without one party changing fundamental components of their beliefs.
Events that occurred in the past can impact present family functioning if left unresolved, even if those events happened in childhood. Adult siblings, for example, may hold resentment or anger towards each other that is ultimately based on unresolved conflict or arguments that took place during their adolescence. As in all interpersonal relationships, unresolved conflict between family members can lead to resentment and bitterness if the underlying issues are not addressed.
Improving Communication To Increase Acceptance
Conflict is normal in family interactions, but there is a significant difference between healthy and unhealthy conflict. Acceptance plays a large role in reducing conflict, and acceptance of another family member begins with understanding their perspective. Understanding is most often achieved through verbal communication, and research shows that families with strong communication skills have lower conflict and higher cohesion.
If you're interested in improving your communication skills, try these basic steps:
Improve Your Listening Skills
Acceptance, understanding, and communication all begin with good listening skills. Listening well means listening actively by bringing all your attention to the conversation. Face the person you are speaking to and make eye contact. Allow them to finish speaking their thoughts before responding. Assuming you know what the person is going to say and interrupting them reduces the effectiveness of your communication.
Once the person has stopped speaking, clarify that you understand what they have said. Asking questions confirming your perspective, like "I think you feel hurt by our argument; is that true?" helps ensure you and the other person are on the same page. You should also observe the other person's body language and confirm that you perceive their nonverbal cues accurately.
Improve Your Talking Skills
Listening is one of the most important components of good communication. Helping a family member to feel heard is an important part of accepting them. How you choose your words when it is time for others to listen to you is also important. You may already be proficient at speaking calmly, but even calm conversations can be harmful or quickly degrade into emotional displays if everyone involved does not feel respected.
Don't focus on blame or accusations when communicating to reduce conflict or increase acceptance. You can make this easier by avoiding "you" statements and sticking to "I" statements. "I" statements – like "I feel," "I think," or "I want" – keep the focus on you and feel less accusatory to the other party. You should also try to keep the focus on your feelings rather than the specifics of a problem. Don't assume other family members know how their actions are affecting you; use feeling words like "sad" or "angry" to communicate exactly what emotions you are experiencing.
Emotional Intelligence And Family Cohesion
"Emotional intelligence" (EQ) describes a person's ability to be aware of their own actions, accept others, and remain attuned to other family members. Families with high-EQ members have lower levels of conflict and significantly higher levels of cohesion compared to low-EQ families.
Here are some common ways to improve emotional intelligence in yourself and your family:
- Prioritize your health and well-being. Before discussing serious topics with other family members, make sure your mental and physical well-being is taken care of. It can be easy to become overwhelmed and begin behaving in a manner that does not communicate acceptance.
- Model emotional choice. In high-EQ families, all emotions are allowed, but not all behaviors. Practice communicating your feelings in a healthy way to avoid the harmful impacts of emotional outbursts.
- Take responsibility for your nonverbal communication. Posture, tone of voice, and facial expressions are all important parts of communication. If your words say one thing, but your face says another, you are likely not communicating openly and honestly.
- Acknowledge your errors openly. Showing that you don't judge yourself when you make a mistake helps other family members know that you will also accept their mistakes.
How Can Online Therapy Help?
Reducing family conflict, improving cohesion, and increasing acceptance can be challenging to do on your own, but a therapist can help. You can take several approaches to therapy depending on your role within the family and your individual needs. You may benefit from attending family therapy with other family members and working together with them to increase acceptance. Family therapy is routinely administered remotely, significantly reducing the barriers to access that are common in traditional therapy.
You may also consider attending therapy individually to work on your own emotional intelligence, communication skills, or any other concern that may impact your ability to accept family members. An online therapist uses the same evidence-based techniques as traditional therapists, like acceptance and commitment therapy, and outcomes are promising. Although you will participate in online therapy from your home, evidence indicates it is just as effective as if you had visited with a therapist in an office setting.
Accepting family members often comes with challenges that can significantly impact a family's ability to function together peacefully and healthily. A lack of acceptance increases conflict and decreases cohesion. In some cases, it can lead to estrangement or other severe negative consequences. Increasing cohesion and reducing conflict requires healthy, empathetic communication. If you're wondering how to be more accepting of your family, improving communication skills and working on your emotional intelligence is likely a good place to start.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you accept your parents?
If you're struggling to accept your family or your parents, let yourself process your emotions. It's likely that you love your family very much and want to skip to a place where you accept your family with no hesitations or strong feelings right away, but attempting to force yourself to feel okay when you're not can have the opposite effect. It's also likely that you have divorced parents, and now they want you in blended families, and you're not ready for it. If you push down the feelings you have about your family, you'll likely feel resentment long term instead of processing it so that you can have the optimal relationship with your family. It might be the case that before you're able to accept your family, you'll have to process any pain and hurt that is there that's related to your family or a specific family. When you go through emotional processing surrounding family, you'll likely experience a wide range of emotions, one of which might be guilt. Remember that it's okay to process hurt, pain, and trauma no matter what form it takes. Even the best family friends and so on make mistakes, and your feelings are valid. It doesn't mean that they're bad, nor does it mean that you're bad for feeling hurt. Taking the time to confront these feelings and thoughts, as well as engaging in online family therapy, will help you have healthy, stable relationships with family, friends, or anyone else in your life without any feelings of resentment or pushed down feelings bubbling inside. As scary as it might be to confront how you feel, it can be the key to healthy family relationships or keeping your familial relationships as healthy as they can be for you, whatever that means, given your personal circumstances.
How do I accept someone for who they are?
Whether in the context of family relationships or other types of interpersonal relationships, one thing that it's important to remember is that you can only control your own actions. You can't control your family or their actions, but you can control your own actions and set your own boundaries. Another thing to remember, whether it's related to family friends or romantic partners, is that it will only hurt you to place expectations on someone that they cannot adhere to. You should expect certain things, including safety, stability, and a lack of chaos. If your family doesn't have a dynamic where you can expect these things and their actions tell you that you cannot depend on them, managing your expectations surrounding this person can help you reach acceptance. Acceptance doesn't mean that you'll like the outcome, nor does it mean that it won't hurt. Acceptance also doesn't mean that you need to have this person in your life. Suppose you can keep your family in your life, set boundaries, and put yourself first. Many people need to use extra self-care when they see their family. If you accept your family or family from a distance, that is also okay.
How do you show your family you appreciate them?
There are many ways to show your family, friends, or romantic partners that you appreciate them. Here are some ways to show that you appreciate your family:
- Complete chores for them or run errands for them. This might mean cleaning the home, picking up groceries, or something else.
- Cook for them. It's always pleasant to show appreciation and love through a nice home-cooked meal.
- Tell them. Love languages don't just apply to romantic relationships, and many people have words of affirmation as a love language. Letting your family know that you love your family and appreciate them can be incredibly meaningful.
In showing appreciation for family, you'll feel good about yourself and, often, it'll make their day. In healthy family dynamics, your family will appreciate these gestures. If your family is critical and shows no recognition of your efforts, consider talking about it with a therapist. It isn't your fault and the kind things you do deserve to be recognized.
How do I get my family to accept my boyfriend?
When it comes to relationships, the family can be difficult. One of the primary reasons the family can be challenging when it comes to relations going is that they will have opinions on who you're with. If relationships, family, or other life choices don't mesh with one another, it can be stressful. Particularly, when it comes to relationships, the family of yours are judgemental. You might be wondering what to do and how to solve this problem. First, if your family doesn't accept a new partner, give it some time. They might come around. If a substantial amount of time has passed and your family won't accept your partner for whatever reason, there are ways to navigate the situation. However, they may vary somewhat depending on why your family doesn't accept your partner and other factors. If your family doesn't like your partner and there's a serious reason behind their stance, for example, if your partner puts you in danger, listen to their concerns. Otherwise, know that your family won't always like everyone you date or befriend. In healthy family relationships, your family won't expect that you'll always the same opinion as they do. Set boundaries with your family if they make hurtful remarks about your partner, make sure to spend time with your family in the absence of your partner, and don't be afraid to reach out to a counselor or therapist who can help.
What is a toxic parent?
A toxic parent can take various forms. They might be controlling, highly critical, have extreme emotional reactions (anger, blaming others, etc.), or they may guilt trip you. There may also be codependency or enmeshment going on. A toxic parent may infantilize their adult child, lean on a young child for all of their emotional needs, or engage in other toxic behaviors. As much as you love your family, there are situations where your family won't change. Set boundaries, work to solidify your sense of self, if applicable, and consider reaching out to a counselor or therapist who can support you in the process of navigating or healing from a toxic parent relationship. Families are complicated, and it's possible to love your family while feeling strong emotions regarding things that have happened, whether that's recently or in the past.
How do you accept your family?
What does family acceptance mean?
Why is acceptance in the family important?
How does family create a sense of belonging?
What is acceptance parenting?
- Previous Article
- Next Article