Updated: Jun 18
Family relationships are enduring, and significant for an individual’s well-being throughout the course of our lives. Spending time with family, while a privilege for many, translates to having to endure difficult behaviour. During lockdown, when you’re confined to the four walls of your house and each member is going through a struggle of their own, be it in relation to their work, studies or their mental well being, conflicts and disagreements are inevitable. For a lot of people, this lockdown is proving to be an especially strenuous time not just because of the panic that this pandemic has created, but also due to the unrest between family members and hostile environment at their homes. To get through this lockdown in a more harmonious and peaceful manner it is very important to maintain cordial relations with family while also establishing individual boundaries.
Respect We need to understand how to respect each other’s opinions and feelings. For this, it is vital to acknowledge that every person has a separate thought process and varied points of view. Each member is unique and has a distinct place in the family. We need to develop tolerance and acceptance of different perspectives to be able to coexist in harmony. Some open minded and prejudice-free discussions might go a long way in establishing respect.
Honest Conversation Conversations need to be clear and uncomplicated. There should be no exchange of taunts and cryptic words because these act as hindrances to harmonious relationships. Every member should try to be polite in explaining their viewpoint and compassionate in understanding others’.
Privacy and Personal Identity When we’re confined to a house with 4 or 5 other people, the boundaries of one’s personal space starts to get blurry. It is very easy to forget that everyone has their own lives outside of the house too and even though we can’t physically go out, we still need to fulfil our responsibilities, connect with friends/colleagues and maintain our personal space. Hence, individual boundaries need to be reasserted from time to time through effective communication. Understanding the concept of privacy, giving others their own space while, at the same time, asking them to respect your boundaries can help retain individuality and maintain mental peace. Support Offer help and assistance to your family members. Try listening to their issues without judgement and help them navigate through them with whatever knowledge you have. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts and feelings. Some experiences are universal to all human beings. Chances are that your siblings or parents might be facing same struggles as you. We’re all striving to overcome this pandemic together and this can only be accomplished if we support and cooperate with each other. Remind your family of how important they are. Take up fun hobbies with them and spend time together. Even the slightest expression of love and affection can uplift someone’s spirit and make them feel cherished and cared for.
Effective communication A lot of people feel like their family members don’t give them enough time. To eliminate these feelings of isolation and abandonment, we need to take initiative and make active and continuous efforts to reach out to our family members. Give them your full attention while having a conversation. Turn off the television and put your phone down. Focus on what the person is telling you without making assumptions. Make them feel like they are heard.
Conflict Resolution If a disagreement takes place, instead of letting it escalate, remove yourself from that situation, think about why the disagreement happened and what is the most peaceful way ahead to deal with it especially considering this current situation of lockdown. Come up with personally devised strategies to deal with conflicts. Try to avoid quarrels because they will only lead to a tense atmosphere in the house which will make lockdown all the more difficult to deal with.
Practice Self Awareness and Self Care Indulge in some alone time and take up activities that you find relaxing like reading, cooking etc. Take out time for self reflection by using tools like journaling and mindfulness. Awareness is the first step towards cure. Being aware of your feelings will help you navigate them in a much better way.
Conveying Boundaries Be clear and concise in letting your family know about your boundaries. Whatever it is that you feel you can’t cope with or withstand, identify it and communicate it in a simple and polite manner. If there are some topics of conversation that make you uncomfortable or if there are certain behaviours that really trigger you, recognize them and convey them to your family in a civil manner.
We’re all struggling to find some relief and peace amidst coronavirus outbreak and the only way to achieve that is to live in harmony with fellow members of the house and keep the aura as light and fun as possible. Of course challenges in terms of difference of opinion are bound to arise among family members but if we’re able to navigate through them and create a safe and warm atmosphere for everyone, we can achieve a smooth sailing through this pandemic. By – Divyanshi Khemka Artwork by – Gayathri Nair
References/Read More –
Building Strong Family Relationships: Cooperative Extension: University of Delaware. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.udel.edu/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/building-strong-family-relationships/