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

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Felder, a psychologist and author of Making Peace with Your Parents, notes that people can learn to live with their annoying and difficult relatives, but not by trying to change them. Instead, by figuring out what triggers certain behavior patterns, people can be more accepting and also devise compromises. Using situations from his life as well as examples from his patients, Felder walks readers through the kinds of analysis and solutions they should seek. For example, one matriarch insists on serving Thanksgiving dinner late in the day, when some relatives have already drunk too much and the children are overtired. The woman insists this is the way the holiday has always been celebrated. Finally, her children ask her to try an "experiment" and for one year, start the dinner earlier. The evening turns out to be far more pleasant, and afterwards, relatives call, thanking her for such an enjoyable dinner. Another strategy favored by Felder is to find allies. A woman always has to listen to relatives talk about calories and dieting. She asks her grandfather to help her. He announces a moratorium on discussing food, and the family ends up having conversations about other matters. Felder's tips are practical as he offers specific suggestions on what to say, but what makes his approach so helpful is his assumption that there is no perfect resolution; instead, readers should aim for a middle ground. This is an excellent book for anyone looking for fewer arguments and less tension around family members. (Nov.) Forecast: With publication timed before Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a 20-city satellite tour, sales should be strong. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594862274
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/6/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.29 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard Felder, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and coauthor of the best-selling Making Peace with Your Parents. As a recognized national expert on improving difficult family situations, his books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into fourteen languages. Dr. Felder has appeared on Oprah, NBC News, CNN, CBS' The Early Show, A.M. Canada, National Public Radio, and ABC Talkradio. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Chapter 1 Why do Certain Relatives Upset You at Such a Deep Level? 3
Chapter 2 When and How to Change a Family Pattern You Don't Like 25
Chapter 3 Five Ways to Improve Family Get-Togethers and Holiday Visits 63
Chapter 4 What to Do about Religious Disagreements and Pressures to Conform 93
Chapter 5 How to Resolve Family Battles about Food, Weight, Clothes, and Appearance 117
Chapter 6 Why Families Get Weird about Money, Status, and Competition (and What You Can Do about it) 141
Chapter 7 How to Deal with Drugs, Alcohol, and Other Addictions in Your Family 175
Chapter 8 Is There Anything You Can Do about Relatives Who are Intolerant? 209
Chapter 9 What if There's Been Serious Physical or Emotional Abuse? 237
Chapter 10 How to Make Sure Future Generations Will Have an Easier Time 261
Appendix About the Research Study 287
Sources and Suggested Readings 293
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2004

    FATHER DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIPS

    As a psychologist, author of EMBRACING YOUR FATHER - HOW TO CREATE THE RELATIONSHIP YOU ALWAYS WANTED WITH YOUR DAD (Mcgraw Hill 2004) and only professor in the country who has been teaching a fathers and daughters course since 1990, I applaud this author for offering ideas that can be used to strengthen father-daughter relationships. Dr. Linda Nielsen Wake Forest University EMBRACING YOUR FATHER has helped thousands of fathers and daughters strengthen or rebuild their relationships. A PBS special on fathers and daughters featuring Dr. Nielsen will be aired in June, 2005.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2004

    Since it's the holiday season this book is a must NOW

    For those of you out there anticipanting dread, anxiety and concerns over a difficult relative this book is perfect for this holiday season. Lenny teaches you, first how to make a request in a way for you to feel heard, and for the Other to want to be supportive. He also gives you a hand holding guarantee to survive this time with your relatives and reassure yourself that YOU ARE OKAY! Anyone who did not find this book supreme for this topic.... indeed has family issues. Lenny knows what he is talking about and has lots to give to us to enhance our well-being during this season and always.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    a REAL Holiday Classic, all year 'round

    The family situations depicted in Dr. Felder's book illustrate all kinds of hurtful and difficult interactions...many of which applied to my own family life. His solutions don't make anyone a villain, but instead provide easy-to-remember tools that I now can use to help myself communicate needs and limits in ways that others can actually hear and accept. Dr. Felder's suggestions to try things out as an 'experiment' and the questions he asks that inspire curiosity about relatives are more effective strategies than power struggles and confrontation. With his tools, I find that I can approach family gatherings with more hope about having a pleasant time and less fear that I will be manipulated into a familiar corner. The tone of the book was very loving and accepting and left me with the feeling that I don't have to do things perfectly and I can always try again. Great to read and re-read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004

    Good Title, But...

    Shallow, stereotypical examples limited the scope of practical help that could possibly be derived from this book. The jacket blurb leads the reader to believe that innovative ways to deal with relatives in difficult situations will be offered. Other than the 'caring sandwich', most of the advice was to either repress your feelings and instincts by silently repeating pre thought of mantras, or scheming with other relatives (triangulation) to obtain some power or leverage to enact your own way and/or desires. No really new ideas were offered, including the 'caring sandwich'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2003

    Love comes in many disguises!

    Don't let the title of this book scare you! This book is about love. Dr. Felder makes house calls. He first visits his own home and cleans out the closet. He discusses his family gatherings and upbringing, which is probably why he dedicates this book to his sister, Janice. Difficult family members are normal. However, having a self-absorbed, narcissistic personality in the family could lead to little, or no teamwork and non flexibility; which can be troublesome at times when their is a family crisis that needs to be dealt with. The delicious delicacy, 'The Caring Sandwich' approach, I found unique, because you're feeding into that enormous ego, while getting that person to know that you are upset and you want a behavior stopped. Dr. Felder does'nt advocate trying to change a person, which was clear in the case study of Camilla, where she tries to get her dad to stop the sexist attitudes placed upon her, due to his big sisters adolescent, resent-filled childhood, in which she abused him. Or in Corey's family, the dilemma is, 'not to try to change your drug addicted brother,' he'll just keep putting up barriers, but to accept him the way he is and use prayer or meditation to keep yourself well. It would take someone like Felder, to invite us into the affects of the effect of slavery. This is the scenario of Robert, an African American man from a family where his parents have inflicted racism upon their child, because his skin was not light like his siblings. Most of the subjects in this book are considered taboo, but it's about time, someone spoke-up to some of the damage caused in families. This book is like a 12 step program and if that's not enough; 'The doctor', prescribes books, tapes, and movies that can get you to see 'THE BIG PICTURE'. A must read for the survival of you, and future generations to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2003

    When Good Books Help With Difficult Problems

    Dr. Felder's new book strikes an important balance between deconstructing the dynamics that occur in family conflicts, setting realistic limits of one's ability to control and change family members, and offering concrete suggestions to improve one's outlook on troublesome relatives so that family events become less of an ordeal. Rarely have I found a self-help book that ably addresses these three perspectives, but Dr. Felder accomplishes this with wisdom and humor. I especially enjoyed the chapters regarding religious issues and holiday dinners.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2003

    ME LOCA FAMILIA

    'The Doctor', has whipped up a delicious delight! At that next family fiesta, serve up, A CARING SANDWICH. Remember the old sayings, that you can catch more bees with honey and fish and guess and...family stinks after three days: Think of this book as a 12 step approach, so that you won't be stung again. This buzzz should spread like a virus! A wonderful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2003

    YO QUIERO MI FAMILIA LOCA

    This book gives you simple, practical and easy ways to keep you and your family (FRIENDS). A wonderful read!

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