Douglas Coupland, a Canadian author, wrote a book whose title summarized it best:
“All Families are Psychotic”
In every family, there always seems to be certain archetypes: the high-achiever, the screw-up, the one with all the self-inflicted problems, the one you want to avoid, the jerkface jerk, the funny one, the ally, the serious one, the moderator, the quiet one and the smart one. I’m sure there are more and sometimes family members can take on more than one role.
We don’t get to choose our family. The only thing we get to choose is how we react to them. Unfortunately, some family members choose to react by isolating themselves completely. Some family members can be abusive. There is nothing worse than having a young person walk through my office door and tell me about an abusive situation at home. Again, we don’t get to choose.
It’s always interesting to see how easily families slip into the same habits of their childhood when they get older. The same dynamics play out and while the conversations mature, there’s something about being around your family that has you resort to the earliest years of your time together. The jokes with each other, the hang-ups and the memories they will never let you live down.
For anyone who has raised their own family, they will tell you it’s not easy. Actually, most days are like holding onto a rooted pole in the ground while a tornado tries to blow you away. Physically, families can be very different. However, they share so many similarities that when you begin to talk about yours, almost everyone can relate.
Why include this section?
Families can be a source of brokenness for many of us. Perhaps we came from a crappy family, had no idea of what it was like to have decent parents, or never felt like you were part of any family. Maybe you feel the sting of disappointment with decisions you’ve made in your life and can feel it from family members. Or maybe your family has pissed you off to the point you never want to speak with them again.
It could be any number of reasons.
Whether you were raised by a great family, or a horrible one, it’s time to recognize the family you have now should be one built on love. Unfortunately, love is messy. It’s not a straight line or a clear path. It involves sacrifice and pain, but there’s no limit to how much it can grow.
Loving your family can be easy one day and almost impossible the next. The important part is to keep loving them and hold a broader perspective than just the events of the day. Consider the years past and the many years ahead. As someone told me when I had my first kid:
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
That’s love… and that’s family.