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Do I Have to Love My Family?

They raised us, annoyed us, fed us, and also made us fed up. Not that we had a choice, but they are our family. Every family is unique as every individual is, too, and the way we interact with our families is also like no one else’s relationships with their families. But do I really have to love my family?

Obviously, no one can make us love anyone. If they could, then maybe they could make our celebrity crush love us. Seriously, though, family relationships are hard enough with just typical problems. Few of us come from typical families, though. Whether we have mental health or substance use issues or both, no one can accuse us of being typical.

The Genetic Factor

Where there is smoke, there is fire. If we are the smoke in this analogy, then often our families are the fire. Not only are addiction and mental health often genetic, many people learn about substance use within their families. We also can learn poor mental health habits or stigmas and negative concepts about mental health

This means that most of us are coming from families with more than one member having mental health and/or substance use issues. This means that we are not only dealt a genetic card, but we are also learning negative habits and ideas within our own homes. That also means that our families may make it really difficult to love them.

Difficult but Not Impossible

There is a reason people say their families drive them crazy. Genetically, it is a fact. However, the environmental factors – how well they take care of their own mental health – are what makes it harder for us to love them.

One of the things that can make it a little easier for us to get along with them is to look for positives in them and in our relationship with them. Sometimes changing our own focus toward them helps us to change our perspective. Learning communication skills also help, as so much of the pain and irritation we experience within our families are based on poor communication.

Tolerance is a Form of Love

We can also change our acceptance of the people in our lives. After all, tolerance is a form of love, too, right? Acceptance is not endorsing their behavior. It is just allowing ourselves to just be with it. Not even be okay with it, just note that it exists and not judge it one way or the other. When we are able to reach this level of acceptance, it helps our mental health considerably.

To be able to tolerate our families for all of their quirks and behaviors is a form of love, really. Certainly, it shows love for ourselves, to want to have peace. We do not need to tolerate abuse, though. Forms of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are not forms of love and should never be tolerated. 

Tolerance and acceptance are more of a way of showing our willingness to do our part and work toward peaceful family relationships. It is a way of acknowledging the importance of families in our lives without feeling like we need to give up who we are or sacrifice our own ideals. At the very least, we can make peace with our families. 

Love is a Four-Letter Word

Maybe love is not exactly the word we are looking for here. Maybe it is not practical. But there is a powerful reason that we should at least allow families to be a part of our lives. Research shows that families being involved in the mental care of their children and adolescents enhances the success of treatment. That means that we are better with our families than without them, in spite of everything they bring with them.

This doesn’t mean that we have to love our families. Although it doesn’t rule that out, either. It means that we should do everything we can to make peace with them, to accept who they are and tolerate the quirks and aggravation they bring us. Because it helps us when we do.

Families help us. Maybe they motivate us to get help for our mental health, by demonstrating why health is so important. Maybe, in spite of whatever our relationship is with them, they are anxious and willing to help us learn to be our best. Perhaps it is within our grasp to inspire them to get help, too. Maybe it isn’t about loving our families in the traditional way that we think about. Maybe it is about accepting ourselves and accepting them and helping one another mutually to be healthier and stronger people, together or apart.

The answer is no, we don’t have to love our families. For the sake of life, though, tolerance is probably the minimum skill level we want to aim for. Acceptance will make our lives better, and working together for our mental health will bless us considerably. Sometimes it is our willingness to look at the relationship and be open to better communication that changes our perspective. You can find these new skills and learn how to enhance your mental health at Embark Behavioral Health. Your family can participate in the growth of your mental health, too, which is proven to help you succeed. Even if love is too idealistic, you can learn to accept your family and make peace in your relationships today.

Learn better coping and communication skills by Embark Behavioral Health at 1-855-809-0409 today. Maybe loving your family is not possible, but accepting them for who they are is. 

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.