Growing up in the south, I had my share of tornado and hurricane watches. Whenever a tornado watch was announced, I would take my most treasured childhood possessions into the big bathroom in our house, just in case something happened. Luckily, we weren’t hit with a tornado while living there, but there was no way to know beforehand if the ominous clouds in the sky would produce a funnel of disaster headed our way.
Sometimes in life, just like the weather, conditions are right for a disaster to occur. When a tornado watch is issued, all of the conditions in the atmosphere are just right for a tornado to form. Just one tiny change in pressure to cool, dry air moving in the area can tip the delicate balance and set off a chain of motion that can’t be reversed.
In families, we have the same delicate balance of conditions at play. Parents work and take care of the children and house. The kids are expected to be good students and take part in family and community activities. As long as everything moves along the path we expect, things are ok.
But sometimes, things are stressed and tense. Dad may be worried about keeping his job during a time of great economic uncertainty. Mom may be hesitant to book the annual family trip just in case Dad loses his job. One of the kids may be struggling in math, and another may be dealing with bullying.
All it takes is for one person to have a bad day. BAM! The delicate family balance changes. Everyone reacts to the situation at hand, causing a whirlwind of emotions to tear through the family.
Unlike tornado watches, we can do some things differently to relieve pressure in our families. While we may not be able to prevent every whirlwind, we can greatly reduce the frequency and even intensity of the outbreak.
Warm Up the Atmosphere
In nature, when warm and cold air collide, there’s always a rumble of thunder. In families, when one person’s warm nature crosses someone else’s cold disposition, there’s usually a roar.
By warming up the atmosphere in our homes, we can create a laid-back feeling that invites everyone to be themselves without fear. Warming up the atmosphere can include playing soft music in the background, lighting candles, inviting family members to help prepare dinner, not allowing criticism at the dinner table and addressing grievances in private can all help add warmth to your family’s atmosphere.
Decrease the Pressure
Many of us feel the need to please others. Even as adults, it’s easy to feel like we need to live up to expectations. Often, these expectations can be carried over to our spouse, our children, and co-workers.
Take note of what expectations are truly yours and those can come from others. Notice how you may be judging your own performance based on how others carry out responsibilities. Determine what pressures need to stay, and which ones can be released.
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