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8 Common Family Conflicts and How to Avoid Them

Money, extended family and other sensitive issues — from the Bruces to the Braxtons to Joan and Melissa Rivers, our WE tv cast has had their share of squabbles. But does it have to be that way?

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Friday, August 26, 2011

8 Common Family Conflicts and How to Avoid Them

On this season of Downsized, the Bruces find themselves arguing over money, extended family and other sensitive issues. Joan and Melissa Rivers and the Braxton sisters have also had their share of squabbles. But does it have to be that way?

Here’s a look at 8 of the most common family conflicts — and how to deal with them.

1. It’s all about the money, honey

Just about every family has one thing in common: Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Even millionaires bicker over how much to spend and how much to save, and money is the number one reason couples fight and the number one cause of divorce, according to psychologist and former financial advisor Dr. Cristy Lopez.

The solution: Lopez recommends working collaboratively with your spouse on the issues — against the situation, not against each other. Set a time and place to discuss your finances without blaming each other. And teach the kids at a young age that money doesn’t grow on trees!

2. Getting out the door on time

Getting the kids to school at the same time that mom and dad need to leave for work can be a nightmare. Between showers, getting dressed, having breakfast and gathering homework, some families wind up waking up way too early — or always being late.

The solution: Make a schedule. Each person in the family should have a designated wake-up time and get-out-the-door time. And everything that can be done the night before — like laundry, homework and packing lunches — should be.

3. Dinner is ruined (again)

Some of us can still remember the days when dad came home by 6 p.m. every night and the whole family sat down together for a home-cooked meal. Not so anymore. Between mom’s schedule, dad’s schedule and countless after-school activities — not to mention differing tastes in food — some families don’t even see each other in the evening.

The solution: Set a deadline. Just like a work deadline, make a rule that everyone has to be home by 8 p.m. (or whatever time you choose). Whether you’re making dinner or having something prepared, it’s important to spend that time together. And don’t give the kids too many choices — you don’t have time to prep more than one meal!

4. Technology has taken over

Dad is checking his BlackBerry under the dinner table, mom is texting her sister and the kids are desperate to get back to Facebook. In other words, no one talks to each other anymore.

The solution: Power down. Have at least one hour in the evening (preferably around dinner time) when everyone agrees to go back to a gadget-free era. You might just enjoy the break from all the blinking and beeping.

5. Can I have a minute, please?

Whether you live in a two-bedroom house or a McMansion, in most families, people have a tendency to get in each other’s way. Your son’s hogging the computer, your husband has taken over the TV and your daughters hate sharing a bedroom.

The solution: Give each other some space. Everyone should be able to have a little time to themselves, whether it’s taking a long bath, making a private phone call or zoning out in front of the TV. Teach your kids to respect each other’s boundaries.

6. Out-of-control fighting

From Joan and Melissa Rivers to the Bruces to the Braxton sisters, every family deals with their share of squabbles. But there’s a big difference between a little tiff and a serious screaming match.

The solution: Stay cool. If you’re calm, your family members will (hopefully) take their cue from you and follow suit. Don’t respond to shouting and don’t permit any cursing or violence. Everyone will be happier as a result.

7. Arguing over chores

Sick of doing the dishes every single night? Did your husband forget to take out the garbage again, or did your son leave his clothes all over the floor?

The solution: Decide who does what. If you don’t really mind doing the dishes, choose that for your own chore. Let hubby pick his and let the kids pick theirs — this way, no one gets stuck doing something they hate.

8. Extended family obligations

On this season of Downsized, Laura gets upset when Todd’s son from his first marriage comes for a visit. They’re not alone: Most couples suffer from some kind of extended family issues, especially when it comes to in-laws.

The solution: Be respectful. Your husband has a special bond with his parents and/or his kids from his first marriage. And he needs to understand that your parents are important to you, too. Make room for everyone — the more the merrier!

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