Have you ever asked yourself how you got this family? Do you ever feel like you couldn’t be more different from them, that maybe you were switched at birth? Or do they just drive you crazy and you wish you could choose another family? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are not alone. A lot of us have felt that way. Sometimes our relationships with our families just don’t seem worth it. But family is always worth the work.
Expectations of Family
With relationships in general, and especially within families, the distance between us starts with having different expectations. For example, some parents expect their children to be perfect – perfectly behaved, perfect manners, perfect in school. Or maybe they have other expectations that are based on things they did or didn’t achieve. Perhaps there are religious, cultural, social, or career expectations. You may know what their expectations are for you, or you may have made assumptions based on miscommunication or things others have told you.
We also have expectations of our parents. Do you wish we had the “cool” parent? Or a parent that was more or less involved in our lives? Perhaps you want a parent that is easier to talk to or one who talks less to you. Maybe you want the parent who does everything for you, the parent who lets you do everything on your own, or someone in between. These and so many expectations that we have are often kept to ourselves, never communicated.
The only real way to find out what expectations families have for one another is to communicate. That is easier said than done. Especially because families usually have baggage – things that have happened in the past that influence how we communicate now and moving forward. To clear the baggage, we need to know what expectations we have for each other. But to communicate the expectations, we need to clear the baggage. This is what makes families so hard to deal with. It can be like a song that you didn’t even necessarily like the first time you heard it, only now you are stuck somewhere listening to it over and over again.
Why Should We Care?
What is the point of families, anyway? Legally in most places, you can just leave home at the age of 18 and never look back. While that is technically true in a physical sense, families are your emotional DNA that makes up who you are, even if you don’t share the same physical DNA. Like it or not, they know everything about you. They know your medical history, your educational history, and what your favorite foods are. They can help you when you are in trouble, and they know just what to say to you to make you anything from happy to angry. They know you better than anyone else. Chances are very high that they love you, even if they may not show you that or maybe they show it to you in ways you don’t recognize.
These relationships are worth working for because throughout our lives they are a reference point. Whether it is a point that you want to reference or not, you will be asked about your family history for college, work, medical, and other circumstances throughout the rest of your life. If you choose to have a family of your own someday, you will be surprised at how much valuable information you will want from the people who you shared a home with growing up.
There are the physical benefits of having someplace to come home to as well as people who care about you and will help you when you need it. For better or for worse, maintaining relationships with these people on some level is something you will need on a tangible level. Mentally and emotionally, you will change throughout your life. No matter how difficult it is for you to see now, you will actually undoubtedly want a relationship with your family at some point, too. Family is blood, not just on a molecular level, but on an emotional level, too. The truth is that we are all better with family than without them, that is why family is worth the work.
Be the Change
Even if you have a relatively positive relationship with all of the members of your family, there are always ways to improve communication. Now that you have the tools to communicate better, you can be a positive force for healing and improving your family. Remember that you are important and that you need to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. However, even the most dysfunctional families can be influenced by the positive things you have learned as you strive to improve your life.
Take the initiative. Find something to do today to improve your own communication with your family. You can send a text, make a call, or write a note to a family member that shows gratitude or compliments them on something you have noticed. When it comes to families, a little love goes a long way. Your continued efforts at improving yourself will be rewarded exponentially if you can also improve your relationships with your family.
Remember the communication skills you gained at Embark Behavioral Health. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. Remember to be the change you want to see in your families.