I come from a family of five, comprising four women and one man. We have our fair share of annoying habits: those we used to have, those we still have, and those I do not even want to imagine we might develop in future. It is true that old habits die hard, so most of the time, we’re better off learning how to deal with them than trying to get rid of them.
(May I just add that it was a difficult task having to narrow the number of annoying family habits down to only five.)
1. The brutal insensitivity: “Wow, you look ‘great’ today!”
Isn’t it interesting that family members think it’s okay to be frank and tell each other nothing but the truth? While many of us will say that we treasure truth, the honest truth is that we just can’t bear to hear it sometimes, especially when it comes in any of these forms: sarcastic, cold, brutal, or downright insensitive.
It could well be because we feel that our blood ties give us the privilege to speak freely to each other. We make certain remarks or comments to family members without thinking twice because, well, aren’t we family after all? Friends, on the other hand, are more likely to try to avoid upsetting or offending us. Of course, if these hard truths were to be shared in a loving and gentle manner, we can take them as part of character building.
So, for those of us dishing out the comments, perhaps we could hold our tongues and think twice before making a comment. And for those of us on the receiving end, perhaps we can be patient and find things to learn.
2. The selfish mentality: “It’s my way or the highway.”
Is there a particular family member in your household who always controls the television remote? Exactly. I often think: “When will it ever be my turn to decide which channel to watch?” In my family, we have one TV addict, another who loves switching channels during commercial breaks (sometimes up to three channels), and yet another who watches nothing but the news.
If this doesn’t happen in your home, maybe you’ll be more familiar with the “hogging the shower” phenomenon. Well, you get the gist. It brings me to my next question: When is the last time we gave in or considered another before ourselves?
3. The never ending nagging: “Have you forgotten anything?”
Family outings or trips may not always be our idea of an ideal holiday because, quite frankly, the nagging starts at the very beginning. “Have you forgotten anything?” And just after we recover from our irritation, we realize in horror that we did, in fact, leave our toothbrush behind. The nagging resumes.
But have we ever considered that nagging could really be for our good? Do we take the time to understand where our parents might be coming from?
4. The repetitive ranting: “You do not want to know what happened to me today . . .”
We’ve just had a tough day at school or work. We arrive home, drop our things, and start ranting about the day’s affairs. Before we know it, everyone else joins in and the whole family ends up talking over one another. Everyone just wants to be heard.
It sure feels good after a rant, but let’s face it, when it comes to listening to others, we tend to tune out of the conversation. Should we learn to lend a listening ear and instead of just ranting, work towards possible solutions to each other’s problems?
5. The perpetual miscommunication: “I thought you said that!”
Receiving a text that ends mid-sentence or a “You know what I mean” comment from a family member can be frustrating.
Sometimes, we skip the little details in our daily conversations. We try to shorten our sentences to save on typing long messages. We think that we’ve got to know each other inside out, but we end up making the wrong assumptions. It’s no wonder we always get to the “I thought you said that!” stage.
How about not making assumptions, and instead making an effort to convey our message clearly, and seeking clarity about what’s been communicated?
Most families, if not all, have their own fair share of annoying habits.
But let’s learn to embrace our differences, pray regularly for one another, and not make mountains out of molehills. Ultimately, such idiosyncrasies are what make each of our families unique. After all, the Bible shows that God wants families to be the essential building blocks of human society (Genesis 1:28) as we live out and advance the gospel (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
Finally, Galatians 5:22-23 can give us a guide on the characteristics we can work towards as a family. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”