Here’s how I run my house.
It saves a lot of hassle and reduces resentments that build, then blow, when people feel obligated.
I repeat these mantras, out loud, in front of my wife and kids.
I get buy-in, across generations and between households.
#1 => All family is optional.
Opt-in or opt-out, I’m ok either way.
If you opt-in with a difficult person then best to limit the interaction to short visits where you go to them.
#2 => It’s OK to say no.
When someone blows their stack, it’s often a result of their inability to say “no.”
People that have trouble setting limits need to be constantly reassured that it is OK to set limits!
Likewise, if you happen to have a person in the family that uses social pressure to manipulate others then you may need to find a non-threatening way to remind everyone that it’s OK to say “no.”
For example, my kids like to try-it-on with new babysitters. On the first day, we have an “all parties” meeting and I explain they are likely to test boundaries and it’s OK to say “no.” I also give the sitter the option to call me up and I’ll say “no” for them.
Keep a look out for someone saying “no” to you and your mind starting a dialogue that they are wrong. Slap yourself down and remind yourself that it is OK to say “no!”
#3 => If you can’t stand someone then, chances are, someone can’t stand you.
Impossible, you say?
Maybe you’re perfect but I’m certainly not.
So it’s best if we mutually agree that we’re going to do our best to be polite to each other and get along as best we can.
If we can’t get along then there’s always mantras #1 and #2.
A => Don’t invite someone over, get rocked and tell them what you really think of them! How on Earth will that make things better for anyone?
B => Close but not too close => A mantra from the most successful multi-generational family I know. Three adult generations, who get along, do a lot together and always maintain their personal space.