just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

The Complexities of Family

Family. Most of us do not get the pleasure of choosing our families, but we have them- the good, the bad and the ugly. In the past two days I have had two separate conversations with two women, with whom I am close, on the subject of families. Fascinating stuff really. In both of these cases the women are separated, either geographically or self-imposed, from the day to day inter-workings of their families. Sure they correspond here and there and attend major familial gatherings, but mostly they are insulated from them. So when they have the chance encounter with their families again it is almost like they are jumping into a cold pool of water and are shocked at the coldness.

So what happened? Why is it that some families appear so normal and close and others so disjointed? Or is it that all families are disjointed on some level, but some are better at hiding it than others? Why is it that familial patterns of behavior ever come as a shock then? And here is the true irony, I think that in both of these cases these women truly desire a close relationship, that Norman Rockwell picture, with their families but it simply may not be attainable.

There may be some that argue with me about attainability, but I truly believe that like any relationship there are times when that desired “closeness” can no longer be attained. As children we grow up under our parent’s wings. We follow their rules and are exposed to those things which they choose for us. We develop into adults and then are forced to make choices. Some of those choices are shaped by our upbringing while yet others, are entirely our own. At some point we evolve into a true adult, and if we have examined our choices, start to figure out which ones are truly ours versus those which were influenced by someone else. We define boundaries and are no longer that 9 year old child who doesn’t know any better. And there I think is the problem. Because while we were growing and changing, so were our parents and siblings. The patterns of behavior that may have sustained us in our earlier life no longer work. So now what?

What happens when you or your parents or both of you have evolved into totally different people? Well like any relationship, I would imagine you can try to get to know that person all over and see if it can work. However this takes awareness and desire on the part of both parties and sometimes it is just not there. Or it may be that you have both changed so much that it is nearly impossible to find that common ground. In that case, I don’t know if that close relationship will ever be attainable. It may be like a good friendship where you no longer have much in common and you grow apart. If that happens, it is just time to accept that things are the way they are, set your boundaries so you remain true to your soul, and continue to offer what love, respect, support and understanding that you can and simply let it go from there.

I really struggle with all of this, both in my own world as well as a parent to my children. I want to be that poster family of closeness…Only I don’t know the right formula, if there even is one, to making it happen.

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