Family tension can affect every member of the household. Sadly, it’s pretty common to find relationships floundering from time to time. It’s not easy to live with other people, especially if you’ve had a little too much togetherness lately and not enough positive interactions to balance out the negative.

So, how can you give your family a fresh start when all seems lost?

Start with the Right Tone

You’re going to want to pull the whole crew together for a family meeting. But doing so in the wrong tone of voice can kill the whole thing before it even begins. Try to keep your tone positive, or at least neutral as you propose a get-together to talk.

Offer an Apology

Start by telling everyone you’re hoping you can all start over, beginning with a clean slate. To do this, you’d like to start with an apology for times when you’ve let others down. This should not be a detailed apology so much as a heartfelt one. Of course, others might not accept this. This is a good point for discussion. Listen to what others say with a humble spirit. Remember, you’re leading by example. Then give the others room to offer their apologies. At the end of this session, offer and accept forgiveness.

Discuss Matters

Now it’s time to set out the ground rules from now on. Make sure everyone, even the youngest members of the family, have a say. What would they like family interactions to be like in the future? Note: This is NOT the time to make long and complicated lists. Keep the goals simple, without too many of them to start.

Organize a Regular Check-In

Once you have your goals, set up regular family meeting times to discuss and evaluate. These times will often be enough for you to all touch base, air grievances, and evaluate goals (and add new ones), but not so often as to make family meetings tiresome.

Fresh starts as a family can be complicated because not everyone will be on board initially. The key here is to make sure everyone feels like they’re being heard. Pay attention to the needs of others, which might sometimes involve a little reading between the lines. Last, of all, don’t forget to make the meetings fun. Make family meeting into pizza night, for example, and end it off with a fun activity like board games or a game of frisbee in the yard.

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