Consider the following example as it relates to this week’s topic.
The other day, one of my daughters came into the kitchen and said, “Hey Dad, I need some money to repay a friend who bought me Starbucks and for some haunted houses I’ll be going to next week for Halloween.” Now, granted, asking for money is a bit of a trigger for me, and nevermind the fact that I’ve routinely talked to her about saving money and getting a job.
In walks my older daughter who has conveniently overheard this conversation and says to me, “That’s not fair! I asked for money the other day and you said you couldn’t.” Mind you, I haven’t even answered the first request, and now I’m irritated that my older daughter has butted into this conversation.
Now three people are arguing about two completely different things, all of which are continuing to make each person upset. It ended with two upset daughters storming off to their rooms and one angry father standing in the kitchen beyond irritated and wondering what happened.
Linear and Circular Interactions
If you have children, it’s highly likely that you’ve been in some type of situation like the one I was in with my daughters. We tend to see our interactions with others in a linear fashion, meaning:
- Something occurs
- We react
- The situation is resolved or not
Another way to think about our interactions with family is by seeing them in a circular context, meaning:
- Certain interactions happen repeatedly
- They lead back to the original interaction
In many ways, this is an example of history repeating itself because I could easily take the story above and replace it with a thousand other examples of how this same interaction has played out in my family.
Here’s an example you might be able to relate to. Since we’re close to Halloween, have you and your family argued about how to spend the holiday? If so, I’m guessing that it’s about how your kids want to spend time with friends while you and your spouse want to spend it together with them.
Kids, especially teens, are at an age where many would much rather be with friends than with parents. This is completely normal and happens in almost every household with children. Did the situation resolve itself with a mutual agreement or is it still ongoing and unresolved?
If you’ve noticed that these types of incidents are happening more often or are growing in intensity, then it might be time to consider family therapy.
Addressing Your Problems as a Family
Family therapy can be one way to help remediate negative communication because, while certain interactions may seem harmless, the constant stress of walking away from a conversation irritated or upset can have a negative, long-term effect. It can go so far as to cause family members to shy away from each other or avoid communication altogether.
When this happens, relationships suffer.
When we look at the family as a system of interactions, we empower ourselves to dissect each interaction and troubleshoot particular moments that are problematic along with what role each person in the family plays in keeping this type of communication alive.
In other words, by incorporating the entire family into the process, we take the emphasis off of one individual as the “problem” and create a more effective group mentality aimed at improving relationships.
Schedule Your Visit with Us in Tampa!
If you and your family are commonly experiencing negative interactions with each other that don’t seem to resolve anything, then our licensed psychologists and therapists in Tampa are here for you. We offer a comfortable, non-judgmental environment where we’ll explore what the issue is without putting blame on anyone. Contact us today to schedule your visit!