Have you ever found yourself caught up in the middle of a family argument? Hamida (not her real name) for example, suddenly found herself playing peacemaker between her two sisters. Her sisters had an argument and stopped speaking to one another, only to call up Hamida to constantly complain about how unreasonable the other was being.
For no fault of her own, Hamida found caught up in the drama, unable to do anything to make her sisters see the other point of view. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get her sister’s to see that their arguments were driving her crazy, as well as causing stress in the whole family. She really needed help so she contacted me, a Muslim life coach, to help her out. What she really was looking for were some skills on how to handle the situation better.
Family squabbles are just as common in Muslim families as they are in any other community. We know that maintaining relationships is important, but that’s easier said than done, right? So if you’re caught up in family drama, and need some help, then read on…
Tip 1: Avoid taking sides
Being embroiled in family drama has its risks. You may agree with one side more than the other. This is natural, but it can definitely backfire if you’re the one trying to make peace. As a Muslim, it carries a lot of reward to make peace within family, so if you’ve chosen to do so, then you cannot afford to even seem to be taking sides. Believe me, the other side will sense it if there’s even a small inkling of this going on. Your body language, vibes and tone of voice will give you away. The other party will feel that you’re not on their side and the process may fail. So make sure that you can remain impartial before you bring the parties together.
Am I able to support both parties equally?
Am I able to remain impartial in this situation?
Is there any risk that I may take one side and alienate the other?
If you figure out that you are taking sides, then graciously step back and ask someone else to take over, otherwise you may inadvertently make the situation worse without meaning to.
Tip 2: Help each side to focus
Families can be complicated- there’s no doubt about that. However, there must have been a time when both parties did get along. Take some time to remind each of them about the good times. You will need to do this tactfully and slowly, otherwise it may make the anger worse. When loved ones argue, a lot of what they remember is their grievance, however, they did have some good times with the other person. They will have a movie in their mind reminding them of the good times. As the mediator, you will need to support each side in reconnecting with the good times, and remembering the good qualities of their spouse, cousin, in-laws or even their child.
As the mediator, ask each side the following questions:
How would it feel if you never saw this person for the rest of your life?
What would happen if you left this relationship as it is now?
Would it be OK to NEVER make peace with each other?
What would happen if you did make up?
These questions will encourage each of them to think about consequences. This should provide each party with enough insight to make a choice of whether they truly want peace or not. Once each side agrees that they really want to reconcile, then the rest of the journey will insha’Allah become easier.
Tip 3: Get them talking
You will be their Muslim life coach for this situation. So once each party has chosen that yes, they would like to reconnect, then you will need to get them to speak. Get everyone together, and establish communication by following the simple rules below:
Using these simple tools will allow each side airtime. Your job is to make sure the rules are followed and the process is respectful for all concerned. Of course, any further ground rules can be set before the process begins.
After this, the next step will be for each side to follow through on what they agreed to you. You can then establish a new role for the future, or let them know that you are there for support but your main job was to get them talking. This will make each party accountable for their own actions; and you can step back and concentrate on your own commitments. Give yourself some acknowledgement for being there and offering your family a chance to reconnect and come closer again. Insha’Allah, Allah swt will reward you for your efforts.