Nothing can compare to the relationships we share with family.
For some, family life means happy chaos, warmth and affection, and the freedom to be yourself. For others, family life presents some serious challenges to overcome.
Most people's families fall somewhere in the middle - love and support at some times, friction and misunderstanding at others. Having a family of imperfect people is perfectly normal and healthy!
The thing about families is this. There are always positive takeaways, even in the most complex relationships.
In your family, are things always what they seem to be? Sometimes not.
For example, in a family where the children were lavished with love and bestowed many gifts and constant help, children may take longer to grow into maturity and independence.
A family of deprivation may produce adults who seek to compensate for a "lack of toys" in their youth by indulging their every whim and maybe even bringing things full circle to lavish their children with gifts at every turn.
Another interesting aspect of family life is the confusion that results from marrying someone who grew up in a family that is totally different from yours.
Some ways families can prove different from one to the next:
¨ Style and frequency of communication
¨ Child-rearing and discipline
¨ Methods of teaching (showing versus doing)
¨ Ways of celebrating
¨ Ideas of togetherness, or lack of it in some cases
¨ Religion and its role in your family life
¨ Traditional sex roles
¨ Attitudes about money
Here's something to remember about family: You are free to leave the lesser aspects of your own family life behind, and adopt new and healthier ways of relating with your own family.
In fact, possibly the best thing you can do for your own children if you have them is to pick and choose from the "best of the best" traits of each partner's family life growing up.
No matter what your family life consisted of, and what it is now, one thing is for certain: we learn so much from family, and for that alone we can be grateful.
So many of us have so much to be thankful for about our families:
¨ Trust, safety, and comfort
¨ Positive role models
¨ A strong work ethic
¨ Special inherited talents and other positive qualities
¨ Entertaining personalities and good humor
¨ Opportunities to grow in a supportive and nurturing environment
¨ Special memories and great stories
¨ Holiday celebrations, traditions, and recipes
¨ Acceptance of our flaws and shortcomings
¨ People who will love us no matter what
Exercise 13: Finding Reasons to Feel Blessed for Family
What do you love most about your family?
Think about the ways your family has shaped your personality and life.
What's different, and wonderful, about your family?
What are the best family memories you can recall?
How have the less-than-perfect aspects of your family life helped to shape who you are today?
What have you learned from the challenges and struggles in your family?
What ways can you find to be grateful for the adverse situations present in your family? How did these experiences help you grow and improve as a person?
Spend some time reflecting on the word "family" and what it means to you.
Write down your most vivid childhood memories, and how they shaped who you are today.
Stop and list the things about your family that you're grateful for.
How have you managed to cultivate a unique sense of family within your social circle, even if not a "traditional" family?
May You Be Well