Tips for International Day of Families: How to navigate difficult family relationships

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

International Day of Families takes place on 15 May every year. It was created by the UN General Assembly in 1993 and aims to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes and pressures affecting families

It’s also an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families. One of which is estrangement.

Family estrangement more widespread than many realise

Approximately one in five UK families experience estrangement*, and more than five million people have decided to cut contact with at least one family member.

For some, the idealised version of family time together might be a reality. For others, that portrait can feel like an unattainable model that spurs anxiety, frustration, or sadness.

Traditions and celebrations also often bring pre-established roles, expectations and historic family dynamics into sharp focus.

Our chances of family harmony can improve if we accept the ways in which each of us change and if we practise a more compassionate and kind mindset. 

Below, Samantha Snowden, Children and Family Mindfulness Coach at Headspace shares her tips for letting go of resentment towards family members and being happy in the moment:

Tip 1

Carve out time to talk about the event that caused a difficult emotion previously and what’s needed in the present and the future to help prevent it from happening again.

Tip 2

If you’re having a hard time letting a difficult situation go, doing a meditation on forgiving and releasing may be helpful. Offer yourself phrases of loving-kindness that reflect the desire to forgive, and utilise the following phrases:

  • May I forgive and release myself for any ways I may have caused harm
  • May this person forgive and release themselves for any harm they may have caused
  • May I forgive and release them
  • May they forgive and release me
  • May we forgive and release each other

Tip 3

Practise letting go of expectations and striving to achieve perfection. Remember that difficult family moments present opportunities to grow and deepen your connection as they reveal values and needs that matter most to everyone.  

Tip 4

Check out Headspace’s in-app guides such as ‘Finding Positivity’ and ‘Managing Conflict’ to learn more tips on how to navigate challenging moments with loved ones.

You might also like:

Join our growing network of employers
Receive Make A Difference News straight to your inbox

Sign up to receive Make A Difference's fortnightly round up of features, news, reports, case studies, practical tools and more for employers who want to make a difference to work culture, mental health and wellbeing.