Tips on how to have tough conversations with family

Difficult conversation with family have to be had, despite anxiety about the outcome or the reaction of your loved ones.

Clinical psychologist Teboho Monyamane explains that people usually avoid talking about the proverbial elephant in the room due to fear of rejection or judgment.

Avoidance can also stem from efforts to shield family from distress or because of shame.

Subject matter including death, finances, prejudice, politics or illness are often tough to broach.

But not having transparent conversations can leave individuals feeling isolated and uncomfortable, maintains Monyamane.

She says that is important for families to adopt an environment of open dialogue, especially when having discussion with young children.

Monyamane offers the following advice:

  • examine what is making it difficult to have conversations with family
  • be aware of the context and potential consequences of the discussion
  • only open up when you are ready

It's good to have a conversation if you're ready... There's no one correct response. People are ready when they're ready.

Teboho Monyamane, clinical psychologist
  • consider the option of holding a family meeting or consulting with therapist to mediate
  • be honest and do not lie, as it makes matters worse
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