An angry couple at a dinner table

In a culture that heavily projects social ideals and identities, our family can pivotally influence the development of our dreams and values.

Yet, for some, family signifies a sensitive topic by an unsettling retrospect. With an array of personality differences at play, friction inevitably creates both short-term and long-lasting conflict. From our decision-making processes to the way we view our reflection in the mirror, the wounds of our home life shake us.

While it’s easier to dwell on the pain, here are things for us to remember in the moments we feel defeated: 

Family dysfunctions should never define the future.

The negative characteristics and struggles of our lineage can haunt our attempts at normalcy. Events that we have seen others endure, such as an unexpected affair or divorce, tend to bring fear and self-doubt into our own relationships.

For us, it can become difficult to trust anyone and so we build walls to restrict our heart from ever experiencing vulnerability. However, we were created to live in freedom — not fear. Family dysfunctions teach us painful lessons, but they do not confine us to their framework. From friendship to marriage, we obtain the choice to not follow the same path. There is hope for our future sons and daughters to experience a life better than our own. Dysfunctions give each of our stories contexts, but they do not speak the last word over us.

Family dysfunctions teach us painful lessons, but they do not confine us to their framework.

Brokenness cannot be fixed overnight.

Abolitionist and writer Fredrick Douglass once said, “It is easier to build strong children than it is to heal a broken man.”

Family conflict exists, at times, as a result of harboring bitterness and offenses for years. Often, we desire to be restored immediately from the pain of such offenses, but despite our best effort to fix everything, the ache demands attention. Just like physical injuries, people need time to process the depth of their brokenness. Talking this out with a loving and strong community can definitely help alleviate some pressure. Professional counseling sessions and support groups can also offer healthy alternatives for families going through the restoration process.

living room
Image via Esther Baban

A compassionate heart paves the way for healing.

It is easier to stay angry with our loved ones, especially when the family conflict seems to reoccur more than solicited.

In my own life, I’ve had to realize that people habitually hurt others because, once-upon-a-time, they were wounded by someone they trusted. When we are at our worst, we certainly are more susceptible to lashing out on others. Because of this, my mind floats at the thought of grace.

During any rough season, grace produces compassion that helps us see past our own pain. When we stop labeling someone as “the person who hurt us” and start caring for them as another human being, we lead the way towards amicability. Empathy bridges the gap and creates community in the midst of disappointment.

An apology may never be given (and it’s important to find peace in this).

Once we let go of the conflict and disentangle ourselves from it, we experience more clarity and begin to visualize the bigger picture. This bigger view doesn’t always include our desired outcome. It’s normal for our heart to long for a sincere apology from the ones who have hurt us; but unfortunately, the depth of someone else’s pain sometimes prevents them from addressing the pain they have caused others.

Instead of waiting for an apology, compassion can help us let things go. The reality that tends to be forgotten is that everyone has a story — yes, even those who have betrayed our trust. Being human comes with complexities we may never fully understand; however, these complexities tether us to the same thread.

We all crave acceptance as much as we crave forgiveness from one another. The more we seek empathy and mutual understanding with others, the more we allow reconciliation to take its course. Healing may never look like what we expected it to be, but the process is worth our time and our effort. Perfection is not the goal; unconditional love is.

What has helped you overcome family conflict?

Feature image via Mike Mellia, Darling Issue No. 15


  1. “Dysfunctions give each of our stories contexts, but they do not speak the last word over us” Love this. So important to remember when pursuing healing and wholeness.

  2. So crazy how timely this was! I found this out of no-where when I am currently at a cross roads with how to approach someone who has repeatedly offended me; a future family member. I always imagined I would have the best relationship with her and it’s been all the contrary with feeling belittled and all my strengths turned to negative qualities; very deflating. Your points are so perfect too; they definitely build me up. I feel I am growing and will keep growing through this. Thank you for the tips!

  3. Some family conflicts can never be resolved. You can forgive but you can never forget. Sometimes the only way to heal is to cut ties completely. The loving kindness of others can make up for the pain and sorry you were forced to endure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *