With the celebration of Father’s Day, I have been reflecting about the dynamics of family. Things spoken and unspoken, hurt feelings, drama, denial. It seems that a lot of time family members treat each other in ways that they would never treat a friend. Not in a good way. Why is that? Does being related excuse bad behavior? I had a discussion with a relation last fall. They had been getting divorced and one of their sisters really crossed some lines. It contributed to the loss of her kids. She said it was OK, she forgave her, because she was family. Family was everything. I had to disagree with her and ask why it was OK for her to be treated that way. Well, she is my sister was the reply. So this makes it OK??? I think not.
We teach others how to treat us. That starts with the people closest to us. Our kids watch how people treat us and we treat them. Remember the old adage, Do unto others…? That golden rule should definitely extend into the family model. Maybe that means defining boundaries with our family members in different ways (or even our spouses). If we can’t speak up, then we can step back (and I would challenge you to speak up). You don’t have to be confrontational or rude, but you can speak up for yourself. Walk into any situation with a neutral intention and watch the outcome.
It also seems like we are over critical and over involved in the lives of our families. We judge things that they do, how they live, how they spend their money. Is it really any of our business just because we are related to them? I was facilitating an event a few months back and a Mom sat at my table (she was in her mid to late fifties). She told me that her son was in his early thirties and he was doing this and that and it was really stressing her out. I asked her why she was even worrying about it, why any of it was her problem. She paused, looked at me in disbelief and then said “I don’t know”. It changed her frame of reference. Maybe if we spent as much time self reflecting as we do judging and criticizing, our lives would be quite different.
I recently watched an interaction between a grandmother and granddaughter. I was at a local acupuncturist and they were both being treated. When they were done the granddaughter stood up and said something about driving them home. Her face was shining and she was bright. The grandmother made a critical remark that was totally uncalled for. I watched her shining light dim and retract. It was really sad, and the grandma wasn’t even aware of what had
happened. I am sure that I have unintentionally dimmed the lights of my own
children without even being aware of it. It is something that I really try and
pay attention to now.
As you interact with your families this week (or anyone), pay attention to the details of the interactions. Body language, facial expressions, comments. Be present to the spoken and unspoken messages that you are sending and receiving. Amplify and brighten the light of the people you come in contact with. It will expand your light in return.