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When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People: Surviving Your Family and Keeping Your Sanity

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When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People For every holiday, wedding, funeral, or birth of a child, families gather for what are supposed to be times of celebration or remembrance. But often these gatherings create more stress and conflict than joy and connection. When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People speaks to those who look forward to family gatherings but a When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People For every holiday, wedding, funeral, or birth of a child, families gather for what are supposed to be times of celebration or remembrance. But often these gatherings create more stress and conflict than joy and connection. When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People speaks to those who look forward to family gatherings but also dream being around certain relatives. The opinionated aging parent, the bigoted uncle, the brother who drinks too much, the cousin who flaunts her money and status--all of these characters appear in the sometimes humorous but always instructive stories throughout this book. Based on years of researching family conflict, Dr. Felder offers practical advice about how to make the most of your heartfelt connections with the family members you love while staying clear of the toxic ones. Full of specific recommendations for every kind of family situation, from religious disagreements and sibling rivalries to drug, alcohol, and gambling problems, When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People describes with witty, inspiring examples how to identify when to step in and when to step back, how to avoid feeling like a martyr, and how to stay relaxed in situations that once would have made you cringe.


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When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People For every holiday, wedding, funeral, or birth of a child, families gather for what are supposed to be times of celebration or remembrance. But often these gatherings create more stress and conflict than joy and connection. When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People speaks to those who look forward to family gatherings but a When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People For every holiday, wedding, funeral, or birth of a child, families gather for what are supposed to be times of celebration or remembrance. But often these gatherings create more stress and conflict than joy and connection. When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People speaks to those who look forward to family gatherings but also dream being around certain relatives. The opinionated aging parent, the bigoted uncle, the brother who drinks too much, the cousin who flaunts her money and status--all of these characters appear in the sometimes humorous but always instructive stories throughout this book. Based on years of researching family conflict, Dr. Felder offers practical advice about how to make the most of your heartfelt connections with the family members you love while staying clear of the toxic ones. Full of specific recommendations for every kind of family situation, from religious disagreements and sibling rivalries to drug, alcohol, and gambling problems, When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People describes with witty, inspiring examples how to identify when to step in and when to step back, how to avoid feeling like a martyr, and how to stay relaxed in situations that once would have made you cringe.

30 review for When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People: Surviving Your Family and Keeping Your Sanity

  1. 4 out of 5

    Monica Willyard Moen

    This book has a lot of helpful ideas. A large part of its premise has to do with changing the way you view relatives and changing how you react to what they do. I can’t put my finger on why I responded this way, but the book feels a little cerebral to me. I’m finding it a little hard to find practical application, even though I like the ideas and think they probably will work. Maybe I need to be in a slightly better frame of mind to connect with this book, so I may try reading it again in a few This book has a lot of helpful ideas. A large part of its premise has to do with changing the way you view relatives and changing how you react to what they do. I can’t put my finger on why I responded this way, but the book feels a little cerebral to me. I’m finding it a little hard to find practical application, even though I like the ideas and think they probably will work. Maybe I need to be in a slightly better frame of mind to connect with this book, so I may try reading it again in a few months. I do think it has value, so I definitely plan to read this again.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jerzy

    I thought this might help with a few different stressful situations between various parts of the family. The advice is good but almost all the stories seem to have such pat happy endings---it seems a little too clean. Mostly the book just made me thankful that our family's dynamics aren't nearly as bad as some of the extremes illustrated here. A few tips I found helpful: * p.5, p.16: It's worth figuring out exactly what it is that bothers you about another relative's behavior. Often it's one of tw I thought this might help with a few different stressful situations between various parts of the family. The advice is good but almost all the stories seem to have such pat happy endings---it seems a little too clean. Mostly the book just made me thankful that our family's dynamics aren't nearly as bad as some of the extremes illustrated here. A few tips I found helpful: * p.5, p.16: It's worth figuring out exactly what it is that bothers you about another relative's behavior. Often it's one of two things: Are you embarrassed by the relative's actions and don't want to seem associated with them? Or do they raise a sore subject by showing a weakness that's a hidden part of your own self? (e.g. a chronic smoker frustrates you after you've worked so hard to quit yourself) In either case, often the best you can do is look at the situation with fresh eyes, approach it with humor, and accept they're not going to change. As the Yiddish saying goes, "If you're waiting for your relatives to change... you should live so long." * p.86: "success at a family event: Success is when you 'budget' ahead of time to expect five or ten awkward moments with your relatives and you come away surprisingly happy when only three or four things go wrong." * p.113: Good wording for starting a difficult discussion about disagreements on political or religious views: "Our goal is to open up a dialogue that hopefully will last for many years, no matter what kinds of tensions arise in our family. We'll always want the communication to be caring and respectful between the four of us. Even when we disagree with each other about important issues, it would be great if we could still have mutual respect for each person's beliefs." * p.262: At the very least, make a conscious effort to be the first (or, with your siblings/cousins, the first generation) to break the family's bad habits/patterns and not pass them to your own kids.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Some helpful tips, especially considering that statistics show more than 70% of us can relate to this topic!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marianna

    My take away from this book is: reframe they way you think about the difficult relatives in your life...I have some work to do!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sunshine Biskaps

    I recently took a holistic nutrition course and surprisingly learned so much more about myself and my life than I thought I would. In the course, my instructor Cynthia spoke about why it is that I may be getting so upset about what other people do. Well, this point was emphasized once again on page 16: “Sometimes the reason we get so upset with our relatives is because we know deep down inside that we might be, or we might have been at one time, a little bit like they are.” I also love the “than I recently took a holistic nutrition course and surprisingly learned so much more about myself and my life than I thought I would. In the course, my instructor Cynthia spoke about why it is that I may be getting so upset about what other people do. Well, this point was emphasized once again on page 16: “Sometimes the reason we get so upset with our relatives is because we know deep down inside that we might be, or we might have been at one time, a little bit like they are.” I also love the “thank you for being so unpleasant” card idea! I do need to remember to seek out the other person’s point of view more often. It’s also a good reminder to honor each other’s similarities and differences. I do strive to dig deep and find the courage to be vulnerable to those I don’t understand or see eye-to-eye with. We can’t always have our guards up, and I do my best to find good qualities in them. I also think that sometimes people say or do things to inadvertently hurt us, but it’s not their intentions. I’ve been guilty of this so, so many times. I think people just take our actions as an attack and they get defensive because of their own insecurities about themselves. Sometimes, people just say things mindlessly without considerations of how others may perceive them. (Guilty, yet again!) They key is to be more mindful. Quite often, people are nasty because something about you threatens them. It boils down to insecurities. I’m so glad I have learned to get past my insecurities and acknowledge that others may not have been as fortunate. People act the way they do due to the experiences (or lack there of) in their lives. Who are we to judge them. We just need to be kind and move on. It would be nice if there’s a school that teaches basic human decency! The book ends with the chapter on looking for progress, not perfection, as perfection does NOT exist! We should celebrate each of the small steps towards progress! I’ve already recommended this book to my friends who are dealing with difficult relatives in their lives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    Nothing super groundbreaking, more like notes from a therapist summarizing ways to deal with various types of family tension—some good tips on reframing and some strategies/approaches. Bonus after-effect: knowing pretty much every family faces similar issues.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marlies

    3.5 stars. Pretty good but not great.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A well written and thought out book with many ideas about dealing with challenging relatives throughout the year but especially during times of family gatherings. A good one to read before things escalate any more. Straightforward without a lot of psychobabble or convoluted theories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    M

    I had this one on my discard shelf for a while. The first time I picked it up, I began reading like I would any work of fiction - front to back. I never made it through the first chapter. As a single adult, I felt minimalized and dismissed by the team tactics described in that first chapter. Yes, wouldn't it be lovely if I had a significant other to team up with against these difficult relatives of ours. Alas, I am a team of one. So I set it aside. After the holidays, I was drawn back to the titl I had this one on my discard shelf for a while. The first time I picked it up, I began reading like I would any work of fiction - front to back. I never made it through the first chapter. As a single adult, I felt minimalized and dismissed by the team tactics described in that first chapter. Yes, wouldn't it be lovely if I had a significant other to team up with against these difficult relatives of ours. Alas, I am a team of one. So I set it aside. After the holidays, I was drawn back to the title... and decided to try looking for the chapter that had the most appeal to me. Viola! The rest of the book has some true gems (even if I am skeptical at practical application possiblities). It appears that only that first chapter is written with the assumption that the reader has a partner to work with in applying strategies to cope with difficult relatives. I wish I had come back to this one sooner (before the holidays). After all, the best defense is a good offense.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kay C

    I've read quite a bit of these kinds of books, and I found this one to be one of the most sensible and easiest to read, as well as gleaning some helpful tips for dealing with many types of difficult relatives. The situations include holidays, religion, battles about appearances, money, competition, addictions, intolerance, and emotional/physical abuse - to name a few. The author uses humor, true stories, and helpful insights to address perplexing challenges and help one potentially get along bet I've read quite a bit of these kinds of books, and I found this one to be one of the most sensible and easiest to read, as well as gleaning some helpful tips for dealing with many types of difficult relatives. The situations include holidays, religion, battles about appearances, money, competition, addictions, intolerance, and emotional/physical abuse - to name a few. The author uses humor, true stories, and helpful insights to address perplexing challenges and help one potentially get along better even with the most difficult people.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Some good tips: distance yourself mentally, approach difficult people with (internal) humour, it is usually about their baggage and your own baggage that makes things difficult, ask for their help to make things better. Sadly, it assumes that all people are fundamentally rational and eventually reasonable - a bit about addiction, but not much at all about mental health problems. Not fond of the style or all the religious stuff.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I read this in preparation for the holiday season. I thought that it was an easy read, and most of his advice makes sense. I didn't agree with bringing in third parties (other relatives/friends) in as many cases as he suggests, but he's the professional and I guess there are cases where it could work. It's also a good book to keep for reference. I read this in preparation for the holiday season. I thought that it was an easy read, and most of his advice makes sense. I didn't agree with bringing in third parties (other relatives/friends) in as many cases as he suggests, but he's the professional and I guess there are cases where it could work. It's also a good book to keep for reference.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maryann

    An easy read and it helped me look at my troll relatives in a new light :) It helped take some of the stress off of a recent family event so I do recommend it to the poor people like me out there who have to deal with a few asshat's in the family. An easy read and it helped me look at my troll relatives in a new light :) It helped take some of the stress off of a recent family event so I do recommend it to the poor people like me out there who have to deal with a few asshat's in the family.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    This book was a good read. Gave insight on a tough situation that is going on in my family. The ideas that are suggested shed light that everyone has someone in their family that is tough to handle. We are not alone as far as dilemmas and family can intertwine.

  15. 4 out of 5

    J. Muro

    Lovely book. Wish I had read this way before I was born, or left my parents at 18, or... oh well...My family is still around to practice what I've learned from this book. I guess I have more practice work to do, whew... Lovely book. Wish I had read this way before I was born, or left my parents at 18, or... oh well...My family is still around to practice what I've learned from this book. I guess I have more practice work to do, whew...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Miller

    Dr. Felder does a really good job of both offering practical helps and making sure people don't misinterpret him and apply his suggestions incorrectly or in a way not suited to their own families. Dr. Felder does a really good job of both offering practical helps and making sure people don't misinterpret him and apply his suggestions incorrectly or in a way not suited to their own families.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mira

    Good practical advice. Easy to read too. "If you're waiting for your relatives to change...you should live so long" Good practical advice. Easy to read too. "If you're waiting for your relatives to change...you should live so long"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zen

    A great pre-holiday read. Not condescending but also not too complicated. Some very helpful reminders.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Couldn't finish this one Couldn't finish this one

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I started this book one evening and had it finished the next afternoon. I found it very easy to read and there was lots of useful information in it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A few of my clients have read this book and really liked it--I though ti was pretty good, straightforward, easy to read and practical.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Defazio

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mara H. Steinhour

  25. 5 out of 5

    Selah

  26. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Allen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marc

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashley R Pyeatt

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

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