There used to be a TV ad for an insurance company and the headline was ‘we won’t make a drama out of a crisis’. It’s a really good headline and it reminds me of what families often do.

Many families have the same old argument over and over again. The situation may be different, for example it could be about who’s hosting Christmas Day or what time a teenager should be home, but the arguments follow the same pattern as everyone in the family adopts a specific role in the family drama.

The roles vary but generally there will be one person who is ‘the problem’. This person is seen as the trouble maker, the one who won’t comply. The person in this role will complain that the rest of the family gangs up on them, dismisses them, pities them or treats them as incompetent.

This person may or may not have a sympathiser; someone who defends or rescues them but this has the same effect of keeping them in the role of the ‘lesser’ one.

So the ‘lesser’ one becomes more vociferous in their attempts to be heard and valued and this increase in volume is thrown back as yet another example of their ‘bad’ behaviour. And yet as soon as that person grows, changes or learns, the family work really hard to keep them in role. After all, no one else wants to be demoted to that position if it becomes vacant.

The sad thing is that this person is usually trying to get the family to change something but is using the worst methods to effect that change.

A crucial part to changing this family dynamic is getting the family members to acknowledge that a dynamic exists. That’s where dialogue comes in.

If you want something to change in your family dynamic you need to address the core and not the situation otherwise the family will continue to dramatise its crises.

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