Buckle up because it’s going to be an emotional one. Let’s talk about family! I think we can all agree that as we got older, as we got wiser, our generation has come a long way with normalizing talking about the ugly parts of home life. The movies and TV shows we watched as children made us believe that if we didn’t have the white-picket-goldren-retriever-in-the-yard-wealthy-parents family, it was embarrassing and frowned upon. At the end of the day, family really is the most important. From our first day of life, we depend on our parents to teach us love, boundaries and how to connect with others. It is where we learn patterns, loyalty and value. Like Erich Fromm said, I love because I am loved.
Do you remember the day that you realized your parents were human? You saw something, you heard something, you realized something that had shaken your world for a few moments because your parent was no longer the apple of your eye, the superhero. Your parent was human and instead, you saw a quality or a trait you swore you would not inherit because you disliked it about them. This is normal, and this is okay. It is what teaches us about what kind of people we want to be, and what kind of parents we want to be. Adulthood is realizing that your parents or family teach you not only good things, but lessons too.
Family is various cultures, different languages, single or dual income, single parent or same sex parents, unsimilar traditions, particular political beliefs, diverse religions, incomparable values and most importantly: love.
Hi, I grew up with a single parent who very much fulfilled both parent roles and I literally would not be me without her. She made me feel like I was not missing anything when my friends did things with their fathers. She made me feel like my boyfriends should not be any less worried just because there wasn’t a man in the house. She taught me to love myself and love others as they love me.
Our family is meant to be our safe haven that will love and care for us unconditionally. What happens when it is not a safe haven and in fact, detrimental to our well-being? Toxic family members should be treated like toxic romantic relationships, toxic workplaces, and toxic friendships; dealing with a destructive family member should be treated no differently than any other toxic individual. Blood does not bound you to lifelong misery, mistreatment, or abuse. Dealing with, and having toxic family members is often like a dirty secret we want to hide. But for what? The one thing I have learned as I grow older, is that there is not one single perfect family on this earth. Normalize talking about it and providing support, understanding, and comfort to those who carry this burden because chances are, that you or someone close to you probably wished at one point someone that would for them.
To make my point, I have no issue with sharing that I could have left this post with lovely childhood photos showing my loving, caring, and amazing mother because I want whoever is reading this to paint my family life as ideal. I may have an ideal relationship with my parent but I am not ashamed to talk about dealing with and having toxic family members from personal experience, because again, it is normal!
The most important phrase I’ve learned to repeat to myself when I am feeling guilty: excuses NOT reasons. What does this mean? People who damage others are full of excuses or have someone to provide excuses for them. Their well-being or yours, is not important to them and we feel guilty for it when we shouldn’t. Much of the problem that lies here is that the focus is not on taking care of the family, but instead accomodating dysfunctional behaviour that you are not responsible for. We shift those same boundaries we learned as kids and just deal with the circumstances.
Like I said, families are different. Studies found that 6 out of 10 women’s remarriages create Blended Families. Hi, I have a blended family! The success rate of blended families stands at about 65%. I feel like the types of personalities and upbringings you have in your family obviously weigh a significant portion of this success rate. Let’s be honest, no one (children-wise) chooses being part of a blended family. It just happens because your mom or dad re-married and you are expected to adapt. In a recent blended family research paper, millenials claimed that there was no shame in being from a stepfamily and that they saw these views differently than older generations – Good! It’s about time! The transition is usually the hardest part because that safe haven you are used to feeling comfort in – is different now. Sometimes it’s really easy to feel out of place, and feeling out of place at home is the last thing you want to feel. Each family is a unique entity and an important thing to remember is that above all, each person is a unique entity. Love the way you are loved, and treat others how you want to be treated. Blood does not define family, and the first step is to stop viewing the household as a combined family, but as one solid unit. The more open you are to building bonds with your loved ones, related or not, they will be worth it and last a lifetime.
Everyone needs a house to live in. Family is what builds a home.