Nurturing Positive Relationships With Extended Family Members

Nurturing Positive Relationships With Extended Family Members

Maintaining healthy relationships with extended family members—such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and in-laws—can be tough. According to an article published by YouGov, 46% of Americans don’t have any extended family members living in the same city or town as them. Unfortunately, for many people, this distance can make it difficult to nurture positive family relationships.

If you’re looking to create healthy relationships with extended family members, you may want to consider implementing one or more of the following tips:

  • Schedule times to catch up. When you don’t get to see your family members every day or even every week, it can be easy to lose touch, which can make you feel less like family and more like acquaintances. Plan regular visits, videochats, and telephone calls, and make an effort to remain free of distractions during those times.
  • Establish boundaries. It may seem counterintuitive, but setting boundaries can help families feel closer in the long run. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable having extended family members stay at your home for more than a few days, communicating that before their next visit can help prevent resentment from forming. 
  • Avoid taking sides. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to keep the peace, it’s inevitable that family disputes will pop up from time to time. While you should certainly stand up for what you believe is right, in many cases, exercising empathy and remaining neutral can help prevent hurt feelings. You should also avoid talking about family members behind their back.

Take the First Step Toward Positive Family Relationships

If you’re interested in building healthy relationships with extended family members, one of the best things you can do is speak to a therapist. Contact us today and request an appointment at a date and time that’s convenient for you.

Family Issues Experienced by LGBTQ Individuals

Every family deals with challenges. But those families with either a parent or child who identifies as LGBTQ face particularly unique ones. Here are some of the most common challenges faced by LGBTQ families.

Parental Rights

When a married couple has a child, they automatically both become legal guardians of that child, right? This assumption is true for heterosexual couples in all 50 states, but same-sex couples do not have the same legal rights.

These inconsistent laws mean in some states married same-sex partners may not both be listed in the child’s birth certificate in cases of sperm donors or artificial insemination. Laws are outdated in many states. Connecticut has recently passed the Parentage Act, which gives same-sex parents the same automatic parentage rights as heterosexual parents, regardless if one of the parents is not biologically related. But many states need to catch up.

Paid Parental Leave

The United States is one of the few countries in the modern world that does not offer paid parental leave. When certain companies do offer guaranteed paid family leave, it is not always offered to LGBTQ individuals and their partners.

In addition, the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires companies to provide unpaid family leave, does not apply to parents who are not recognized as legal guardians. And as we just saw, there are plenty of states that do not recognize same-sex couples as legal guardians, and so this is another instance where same-sex couples are left out.

Schools and Education

Bullying is a real challenge for those kids who either identify as LGBTQ themselves or who have one or both parents that do. Only 21 states have included LGBTQ students in anti-bullying laws, but there are still more than half that have not.

This is not an exhaustive list of unique challenges LGBTQ families face, of course. While the saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” is true, sometimes, in order to survive and thrive amidst profound challenges, you need someone in your corner who can help you navigate troubled waters.

If you and your family are struggling with any issues, I am here to help. Please reach out to me.


Facts about LGBTQ+ Families

How to Deal with Family Drama Around the Holidays

For many of us, spending time with family during the holidays is something straight out of a Hallmark movie with days filled with comfort and joy. But for others, the holidays with family are scarier than Halloween. From the stress of traveling to the pressure of buying and wrapping gifts, and the fact many family members can’t be in the same room with each other without a fight erupting, holidays can be stressful!

While you can’t necessarily stop family drama from occurring, there are some simple and effective ways you can deal with it:

Have Realistic Expectations

So much of the pain of the holidays comes from having unrealistic expectations. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Acknowledge beforehand that you and your family are human and that there may be those moments that aren’t very pleasant and that’s okay. Life and families are messy. Recognize it, own it and you’ll find you won’t get as upset.

Set Your Boundaries

Time spent with families over the holidays can also trigger us to feel like children all over again, essentially helpless. But you are an adult now and you are not helpless. You can set those boundaries to protect your mental health. Determine before you go what you will tolerate and what you won’t. This can be for simple things like meal times and sleeping accommodations to what topics of discussion you will engage in. Be sure to share your personal limits with all involved.

Use Good Judgement

When the holiday drama sets in, it’s easy to want to drink more or eat more processed foods. But in large amounts, alcohol and processed sugars impair our mood and judgement. Do your best to not overindulge.

You may also want to speak with a therapist in the weeks leading up to the holidays. He or she can give you tools to help you navigate the awkward and tense moments during family get-togethers.

If you’re interested in exploring counseling, please reach out to me. I’d love to help your holidays be warm and merry (or at least tolerable!).


How to deal with toxic family members during the happiest time of year