Counselling » FAMILY ISSUES


There are many kinds of families. Some have two parents, while others have a single parent. Sometimes there is no parent and grandparents raise grandchildren. Some children live in foster families, adoptive families, stepfamilies or same sex parents.

Families are much more than groups of people who share the same genes or the same address. They should be a source of love and support. This does not mean that everyone gets along all the time. Conflicts are a part of family life. Many things can lead to conflict, such as illness, disability, addiction, job loss, school problems, and marital issues. Listening to each other and working to resolve conflicts are important in strengthening the family.

( MedLine Plus)


Conflict can happen when family members have different views or beliefs that clash. Peaceful resolution needs skills in open, two-way communication, negotiation, compromise and respect for the other person’s point of view. Transitioning from one stage of life to another is often a time of additional stress and conflict. (Better Health Channel)


If "family" is reduced down to husband, wife and children, then that is where the impact will be felt, as opposed to its effect on other relatives who now live far away and no longer have the influence they once had. In other words, there may be a prejudice and implication that these relatives are inconsequential.

Most articles focus on how the children adapt to divorce. Of particular concern is whether or not they become anxious and depressed during and after divorce, as well as how they adjust to school, new living arrangements and losing the constant presence of one parent. These articles ask the question of how the divorce experience will affect them when they become adults. Will they marry? Will they remain married or will they, too, divorce?

The fact is that divorce impacts on many other people in addition to the couple and their children. Considering the fact that siblings and parents formed a relationship with their son in law or daughter in law, divorce brings about a loss for them too. This person who was in the family for a period of time and with whom relationships of varying intensity were formed, is no longer present. That leaves a gap that may provoke some real grieving. In fact anger and bitterness toward their own sibling or adult child for having lost the relationship is often felt.

When a divorce includes children, anxiety is created about whether or not these relatives will continue to see them. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, can feel shaken up by what can become the loss of loved ones. (Allan N. Schwartz, PhD)


According to Maggie Scarf, the number one challenge I encountered while researching The Remarriage Blueprint was this: When remarried couples have children from a previous marriage, they are highly likely to face the huge and shocking impact of what are called Insider/Outsider Forces.

These Insider/Outsider forces tend to shift the members of the couple into vastly different positions. The outsider (the stepparent) is struggling to enter the family system and make some changes of her own. The insider (the biological parent) shares a deep, strong bond with his children, who are often highly resistant to the newcomer.

So the outsider is struggling to become a real member of the family and feeling left out in the cold.

The insider is carrying on a shuttle diplomacy between his new love, and his old, deep bonds with his children. He or she is trying hard to mediate between the customary ways the family used to operate and the different ways his Outsider partner feels it should operate now.

The outsider is often feeling unwelcome, ignored or downright invisible.

The insider is often feeling frustrated and exhausted.


A family lacking healthy communication is like a ship without a rudder. It will flounder even in calm waters and will become dangerously out of control in a storm. To avoid a 'person overboard' tragedy, it is vital to understand barriers to quality family communication. For healthy communication in the family, ensure that every member is heard, understood and valued. (


When serious illness or disability strikes a person, the family as a whole is affected by the disease process and by the entire health care experience.3 Patients and families have different needs for education and counseling. Because each person in a family plays a specific role that is part of the family’s everyday functioning, the illness of one family member disrupts the whole family. When a family member becomes ill, other family members must alter their lifestyle and take on some of the role functions of the ill person, which in turn affects their own normal role functioning.(Euromed)


Growing up in any family can be challenging at times, but there are often special problems and challenges for families in which one or several family members have a mental illness. Members of these families often have to deal with instability or unpredictability. Often there is confusion in family roles, and children or other family members may have to take over many of the adult responsibilities, such as taking care of younger brothers and sisters or managing household duties normally managed by adults. They may even have the responsibility of taking care of the emotional or physical needs of their parents. Children and other family members in these situations do not always receive the care and nurturing they need. They may feel ashamed to talk about their situation with others and consequently may withdraw from relatives or friends who could help them or support them. Often unable to articulate their needs, even to themselves, these individuals frequently feel isolated and alone.(Counseling Center at University of Illnois Urbana-Champaign )


Within families it is easy to develop resentments if there isn't clear communication. When we feel we have been treated badly and feel we can't express ourselves, the bad feelings can build up. Resentments happen but they can be resolved.

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