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Gwen67

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Hey guys, I need some advice on how to spend more quality time with my family. My family is not a bad family - we all love each other, but none of us know how to communicate with each other. Our relationships feel very empty and like all our time together is being wasted. None of us really know each other, but it seems like nobody else is bothered and saddened by it like I am and that no one seems to care to fix it. I want to forge actual relationships with these people instead of just existing with 3 strangers in the same house.

I go to university and live away from home, but this summer I chose to spend at home in the hopes that I could become closer to them, but so far nothing's really changed. I am really upset and fearful about this. I feel like I'm losing time with them....I am getting older and won't live at home anymore and I want to travel and live in different places in the future, so I need to start fixing things with them now! I feel like we're at a breaking point and that we can't keep going on like this -- like something's gotta give. I heard Oprah say once that God gives you signs and chances to fix things -- like He throws a rock at you as a sign and if you don't listen He throws something harder and harder until you do. I want to learn the lesson now and improve my relationship with my family before God throws a boulder at me and it takes a death or something for it to actually work. I hope that made sense...

Anyway, I'm not good at talking about my feelings or very personal things with people in real life....which is probably a huge part of why my family relationships (well for that matter, all my relationships) are so lacking in substance. So it's not easy for me bring things up and talk about things that are sensitive like this. I've said things a couple times to my mom somewhat related to this, but i can only really get things out in a heat of the moment type deal and so far she hasn't really taken it seriously.

Well that was kind of long, but I hope someone reads it and can help. Thanks!
 

HA

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What a great question, Gwen! From my experience one of the ways my family time (with my brothers and parents) has improved from my personal perspective was to appreciate them for who they are and what they have given me. You know that old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? Well, I spent many years wishing that I had parents that were _____, fill in the blank. Or wishing that I had a sister or that my brothers were _____, fill in the blank again.

Once I started to see the many benefits of the people who are my family members instead of wishing they were somehow different, then my own feelings of contentment, appreciation, love and spending time with them were enhanced a hundred fold. This may not apply to your situation but it did have a big impact on my family quality time.

It really is the simple things in life that can make us happy and that applies to my family relationships too, I find.

So, I did some digging around and found this tool kit that may give some ideas on improving the feelings and communication part of your family relations:

Building Family Strengths--A Tool Kit for Families

:hug:
I'll see what else I can find.
 

Gwen67

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Thanks for the great reply HeartArt! Very helpful to me. The appreciation factor definately does apply to my situation. It's something that I definately want to do and have been trying to do. Do you have any tips on how make it a permanent change? Perhaps just make a conscious effort to really point out the good things to myself even when things are strained..?
 

HA

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The appreciation factor definately does apply to my situation. It's something that I definately want to do and have been trying to do. Do you have any tips on how make it a permanent change? Perhaps just make a conscious effort to really point out the good things to myself even when things are strained..?

One thought that comes to mind is to acknowledge the things that bother you but don't dwell on them by thinking about them more than you think about the things that are positive about the person. I'm trying to think of an example......my mother at times seems to be very ungrateful when my sister-in-law brings a gift. One day she made bread and brought it to my mom. When my brother's wife (S) called my mom to ask what she thought of the bread, smy mother said it was too dry for her! That makes me really angry that she would hurt S's feelings instead of appreciating the kind gesture and gift from S. I talked about it with S and expressed my anger too and we looked at some of the reasons why she would behave like this.

Instead of letting it build with many other little things that would make me not want to spend time with her... when she complained about the bread to me I simply said that it was nice of S to give her a loaf of bread and if it were me I would not hurt S's feelings and keep my thoughts about the dryness to myself and instead say "Thank you, you did a good job making that bread." When she brought it up again I would repeat that it was nice of S to give her a loaf. So instead of thinking that my mother was an ungrateful, mean and selfish person (and telling her so)...I talked about how I felt about it.....then reflected on how my mom always gave loaves of her bread to all of her neighbors. How kind she was with gifts of food etc., to the neighbor who had 11 children! And, how many times she would go shopping for and give things to her other neighbors who were blind.

This was one way that I could put things into perspective with my own feelings and thoughts. I also talk about some of my frustrations with my family members to my friends and they help give me perspective too or at least a place to vent.


Maybe others have some thoughts on this too?
 

ThatLady

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I understand feeling uncomfortable talking about very personal things and feelings, even with family; especially, in real life where you have to look people right in the eye. It's hard. However, I wonder if you've ever tried to sit down with one or two family members and tell them how you're feeling without getting too personal.

I'd suggest starting out by saying that you are so very lucky to have a good, supportive family around you. You can tell them that now that you're in college and the time is coming where you will be on your own, living life as a self-responsible adult, you're really aware of how much your family has given you. Then, you can bring up your wish to spend some real, quality time with them, talking about your lives together and the memories you've built as a family. You can let them know how much they all mean to you, and that you'd like to have the opportunity to share with them the deeper feelings that have developed through the years, just so you'll have them to carry with you as you move on into your own adult life.

If you can do that, perhaps they'll want to participate, as well. We all need to feel that special closeness that only family can provide. Too many times, we get busy and involved with day-to-day living and forget to spend time on a very personal level. Yet, it's something every one of us needs and wants.

I wish you luck with this endeavor. I hope it works for you. Family is so very important, and an integral part of a strong support system. :hug:
 

Gwen67

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Thanks a lot for the input HeartArt and ThatLady. HeartArt, thanks for the example -- it made a lot of sense to me. ThatLady, I definately appreciate the suggestions, but to be honest, that that type of conversation would be very, very uncomfortable to me and probably my family as well. "Personal" for me is a very broad spectrum and that definately falls under too personal... Feelings and emotional things are not prevalent in my family...they are "tough" -- talk about feelings doesn't happen and if it does, it doesn't go over well (i.e. it's not taken seriously)... Reminiscing is one thing, but getting personal is not easy for us... I do plan on telling my mom though that I want her to get to know me better and for us to spend more time together and all of us as a family.


if either of you, or anyone else, has any more input or tips i'd love to hear them! Thanks <3
 

Halo

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Just to let you know that sometimes when my mom and I are out having coffee just the two of us, that is when we have our best heart to heart talks because there is no interuptions. We bond the best that way. With my dad it seems to be while we are driving as he has difficulty with eye contact and that relieves the need to have eye contact. We (or sorry make that I) know that these two avenues work best to bond and connect with them so I will make it a point to use them. Coffee with mom and driving with dad.

Just thought that I would share that with you, not sure if it helps though.
 

Gwen67

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Thanks Halo! That is quite helpful actually. I am just so bad at having heart-to-hearts! I can listen to other people's problems and feelings and sympathize with them no problem....but when the issue is about me and involves letting MY feelings out in the open, it is NOT EASY. And even harder when I'm the one supposed to initiate the convo...

I'm not even going to try talking to my dad about any of this (at least for a long while). I'll work on my mom first and when she starts understanding, it'll be easier to get to him. My dad is very emotionally-detached and it's hard to get anything through to him that he want to see or doesn't understand. I really have no idea when or why I've become so serious and introspective :S...
 
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