This 5-step process will help you solve those common family problems that come up, so you can strengthen your family relationships.
Family problems happen to all of us
Christian families are not immune to problems! New ones pop up every day. You might not be able to predict what will come up, but you can be confident that something will.
So if you want to enjoy family life and hold onto a happy home with your people, you need to find a way to solve those common problems that come up.
Yes, even when life is busy. Yes, even when you might feel overwhelmed or discouraged.
Problem-solving skills are a key part of mom life, so that you can keep things running smoothly and protect the relationships that are so important to you.
Today, we’ll look at a 5-step process to help you figure out what’s going wrong, decide what to do about it, and take action.
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We are getting close to the end of our series digging into Proverbs 14:1. But before we wrap things up, we need to take a look at this really important part of family life: how do you solve the common family problems that pop up?
Because the thing is, even when you have the best intentions and really great family dynamics, problems will eventually come up.
It’s not fun, but it’s normal. And the wise woman who is building up her home (… the Proverbs 14:1 woman!) won’t waste time trying to pretend problems aren’t really there. She’ll figure out how they popped up and what to do about it.
Recognizing common family problems
Some days, problems will come and go quickly. The person with the problem will realize that it’s there, figure out what to do, and solve the problem on their own. They might ask for help, but things will get resolved pretty quickly.
Other days, problems will sneak up on you! You’ll suddenly realize that a pattern has developed that you don’t like. You might look back and struggle to see clearly where the problem even started.
The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that the problem exists at all.
So before we dig into 5 steps for problem-solving, let’s take a look at 3 warning signs that will tell you a problem is brewing.
- You’ll notice painful emotions. If you or someone else starts regularly feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, sad, or angry… there is a problem that needs to be dealt with.
- Conflict or complaining might increase. Sure, this might happen from time to time, but if a pattern is developing… there is a problem to fix.
- If your relationships start feeling stuck in a rut or unfulfilling. Habits and daily rhythms can be great, but they can also tempt us to get stuck on autopilot and stop trying in our relationships… and this means we have a problem.
Of course, these are not the only 3 warning signs that a problem has popped up! But they are a helpful starting point.
These are a good starting point because they are common family problems. Emotions. Conflict. Distance in a relationship. I’ve been a marriage and family therapist for over 10 years, and I’ve seen these same problems over and over again.
They are common, but they are also solvable.
A 5-step process for problem solving these common family problems
These steps that we’re about to walk through are pretty straightforward, but let me give you a fair warning on the front end.
They are straightforward, but that does not mean they are easy.
When problems pop up for your family, it is likely that you’ll be feeling stressed or sad about it. It is also likely that some bad habits might have already developed, or that you’re the only person in the family who things there even is a problem.
That is all normal, but it can sometimes make the problem-solving process a little more difficult.
If you want more depth on these 5 steps, or some helpful personal worksheets to walk you through each step, make sure to grab my FREE e-book! Building Your Mom Toolbox: How To Get Your Family Out Of The Rut And Reconnect.
1. Figure out what's wrong and where you want to go instead... your GOAL.
It might be easy to get stuck in the problem. And yes, you need to recognize what the problem is! Label it. Put words to it.
But then, figure out where you want your family to be instead. This is the GOAL that you’re heading toward. You are casting a vision of where you want your family to be once you are done (and successful!) with this whole problem-solving process.
Some examples might include:
- People have been bickering and arguing more often… you have a goal of a peaceful home with less conflict every day.
- Your husband comes home from work feeling frustrated and exhausted, so he’s just not much fun with be with… you have a goal of enjoying more quality time together in the evenings.
- The bedtime routine is super stressful and always takes forever… you have a goal to enjoy the bedtime routine with your family.
Your goal does not need to be complicated, but it does help if it is specific. Get a real picture in your mind.
Once this problem is solved, what will things look like?
2. Evaluate strengths to build on and struggles that could change.
Before you jump straight to trying something different, it will be really helpful to pause and do a self-assessment.
- What family strengths are present, that you want to hold onto and that might even be able to help you solve the problem?
- What family struggles are present, that might be a part of the problem or make change difficult?
It is really helpful to think through the positive and the negative here. While the problem you’ve noticed might feel really overwhelming, there are definitely still good things going on! You don’t want to lose track of your gratitude for these things. Don’t over-focus on the problem.
But, of course, you also want to be realistic. There are struggles. Maybe that’s a personality trait that influences the problem. Or maybe it is part of the family schedule, which makes change hard.
Again, there are personal worksheets inside my free e-book, which might be really helpful in guiding you through this self-assessment!
3. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can to create change.
Okay, my friend. This is my FAVORITE step. And I’ll tell you why:
It’s so helpful, if you do it right.
Honestly, this is an easy step to mess up. What you will want to do it brainstorm a few ideas, and jump right in. You’ll want to evaluate each idea as it pops in your head.
But the golden key here is to brainstorm as many ideas as you can.
Don’t get stuck on thoughts like “this would never work.” If you find yourself thinking, “it’s a good idea, but…” stop yourself right there.
Write the idea down anyway.
(And yes, writing it down is helpful. You want to get a LOT of ideas going here!)
The brainstorming step should take awhile. You want to allow enough time to be creative and to let one idea spark another idea.
And the earlier in the process that you start judging your ideas, the less likely it is that you’ll keep coming up with new creative ideas. You’ll start discouraging yourself, and you’ll give up too early.
It is really easy to judge our ideas too early in the process. But this will really cut you short for solving those common family problems that pop up. As soon as you start judging your ideas, you start limiting the possible ideas that will show up on your brainstorm list.
Wait until you have a good long list ready… and only then can you evaluate two questions:
- would this idea be helpful?
- is this idea realistic for my family?
4. Plan for things that might go wrong.
… because something will definitely go wrong.
After all, we’re talking about common family problems! And usually, by the time you notice the problem, it’s been around for awhile. Change might not be easy. It might not be quick.
So after you’ve brainstormed LOTS of ideas, and you’ve found a few that you think will be the most helpful and the most realistic, take a few more minutes and figure out what might go wrong.
- What if the family gets sick?
- Can you still try this plan if the weather is rainy?
- Would a really bad day at work throw a wrench in the plan?
- Will your budget impact your actual follow-through of the plan?
There are a lot of possible things that will go wrong. (And the free e-book has several helpful worksheets to guide you through this step of the process.)
Just consider for your family, in this season of life, as you tackle a specific problem and work toward that goal… what might go wrong, and what could you do about it to make things more successful?
5. Try something. Take action!
You knew we would get here in the end… a big part of problem-solving is DOING something to try to solve the problem!
Your plan is a lot more likely to be successful if you’ve already followed the other steps.
- Have you really pictured the goal that you’re heading toward?
- Do you know the strengths to build on?
- Have you brainstormed some good ideas and planned for how to prevent barriers from getting in the way?
- Awesome! Now, you have to do something.
And here’s the thing: doing something might be really hard.
It’s not likely that the actual action step is hard. (Of course, it might be.)
But it is very possible that your emotional experience might get in the way of trying something.
- You might feel so angry or burned out that you don’t even want to try.
- Perhaps you’re too hurt by the past to think about being the one making a big change.
- Maybe you’re feeling so hopeless that you don’t want to try something and be disappointed when it doesn’t work.
At the end of the day, focus back on your goal for your family. You want to ENJOY family life. These people matter to you; these relationships are important.
Seek help if you need it, take a little time for a pep talk, and then try something. Take action.
It’s the only way things will actually change.
Common family problems don't have to be common
As we wrap up this look at problem-solving skills a wise woman uses to build up her home, let’s pause for a moment to look at how powerful this really can be.
Yes, every family will have problems from time to time. We live in a broken world. No one is perfect, so no family will be perfect.
But family problems don’t have to be the norm for your family. And the common problems – the ones that almost every family struggles with – can be so much more manageable if we approach them with wisdom.
As soon as you notice a problem is popping up, deal with it. Don’t wait.
Emotions might try to get the best of you – but you control your emotions, they don’t control you. Other people in your family might not understand the changes you’re trying to make – so focus on what you can control, and leave the rest to God.
And through it all? If you want to have fewer family problems, and stop them in their tracks when they do pop up? Pray.
Pray over it all. Pray over your family. Pray over every moment of family life. And let the Lord do the heavy lifting of deep, heart-level, life-impacting change.
Listen to Episode #122
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.