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Staying sane when living with family
Staying sane when living with family
Karen Engelbrecht gives some survival tips for living with family...

A good friend of mine, let’s call her Anne, found herself living with her mother again at the age of 36 after her divorce. Today, six years down the line, Anne is slowly losing her mind.

This tends to happen when you share your living space with family

Ask anyone who’s doing it. But what’s the secret then to keeping yourself from strangling someone when blood appears to not be thicker than water? Perhaps start by reminding yourself of the following:

Living with family is the lesser of two evils

Having to share your home with a complete stranger can be much worse than living with family!

An acquaintances of mine who caught their housemate cleaning the toilet with their toothbrushes can vouch for this. And who doesn’t have experience with a housemate who constantly shops out of their food cupboard? At least with family you know exactly what you’re in for.

Family has your back

Unless there is some horrible unresolved feud, it’s more than likely that your family will always be there for you.

Your mom will make you forget about your bad day at the office with a home-cooked meal, your dad will gladly dispense financial advice (and perhaps a loan if you’re lucky) and a sibling will listen even if they don’t want to. Why do they do this? Because they care – it’s what families do.

You DO actually love them

Yes, you do. Admit it. If you can’t, keep this tip from the website All Things Conflict Resolution and ADR in mind – ‘make a distinction between the problem and the person’.

Take Anne for instance. After a full day at the office, she still has to cook dinner when she gets home – despite the fact that her mother is a pensioner and could very easily do it herself. This irks Anne quite a bit.

But if Anne reminds herself that it’s only her mother’s actions (or lack thereof) that’s the problem, she will discover that she can still find love in her heart for the woman who gave birth to her. You will too.

Violence is never the answer (really!)

You might want to actually choke sense into your family on some days but let’s face it – it won’t be as constructive as sitting down and talking things through.

Conflict says to start by giving each person a chance to describe what lead to the conflict. When everyone has had a chance to speak, brainstorm solutions to the problem and then choose one solution to try. Be willing to negotiate and compromise!

Keep on doing this until you find a solution that works. If you don’t, at least agree to disagree. This has kept the peace in many households!

It won’t be forever

Yes, it’s true! You will move out eventually! It might not be this week, this month or even this year, but it will happen. Just keep on believing it.

If money is an issue and the reason for co-habiting with your family, draw up a strict budget and cut down on unnecessary expenses. If you do it right, and stick to your budget, you should live well within your means and be able to put away money every month to reach that which you long for – freedom!

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