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Dealing with stress

Family problem solving

Happy family

Sharon M. Danes, Extension Specialist and Professor — Family Social Science

Revised July 2009 by the author.

Every family will face problems that they need to solve. When people are ready to talk about family issues or conflicts, two essential ingredients are needed.

Decision-Making Steps

Following are suggestions that can be followed during a decision process.

Next Steps

You have reached an agreement when there is a goal for action and a willingness to follow through by committing time, money, and human energy to the action plan. If a family member is hesitant to commit to a solution, suggest a trial period. This can be less threatening than a hard and fast decision.

If there isn't a willingness to work on solutions to the problem, then you can only address the situation in ways that you can control. You can adjust your view, your involvement, or your reaction to the situation.

Or, from this session you may need to re-clarify the problem, thus going back to step one. Successful social decisions bring people closer together and improve future communication. For more information, call a family counselor, spiritual advisor, or mental health service provider.


Danes, S.M. (1986). Solving Family Problems Involves Social Decision Making. University of Minnesota Item Number FS-3104. This publication is no longer available.

Related resources

Grief and crisis decisions — Emotions tend to be strong after a disaster. Know that this is normal.

Identify and address sources of conflict when making decisions about long term care — Follow these strategies and tips to help your family cope when faced with problems and decisions related to long term care.

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