When we’re young, we spend a lot of time with our families. The definition of “family” is unique to all of us. Some people grew up with one parent, and others grow with both. Some people are raised by grandparents. Others grow up in foster care. Our families define who we are in many ways. Your environment influences the person you become as an adult. But we don’t necessarily understand what we had as children until we see it when we are adults.
Mom, you’re annoying!
I have a friend who has grown to appreciate her mother as she got older. Her mother was always telling her how great she was. But she took it for granted, because it was her mom talking. Her mother’s compliments even annoyed her. She didn’t even feel like the things she was doing were that great. But her mother would always tell her she was pretty and talented. When she grew up and went out into the world, other people didn’t compliment her like her mom. She finally realized and appreciated her mother’s praise. What used to annoy her about her mom, she was now nostalgic for because she couldn’t find anywhere else. After a particularly hard day at work, where she felt misunderstood, she called her mom on the phone and told her that she loved her and missed her.
Things change in families
When you’re growing up in a household, it’s hard to understand that things will change. Grow up with your siblings and your parents, and it feels like this is the way that it’s going to be for a long time. But you’re not always going to share a room with a sibling, and you won’t eternally live in the same house. You might take for granted the close relationship that you have with your family when you’re growing up because it doesn’t seem like it will change. But it’s important to appreciate your family right now. Enjoy any happy times you’re spending with them because we have a limited amount of time on Earth. And eventually we will leave this Earth, so it’s important to cherish the positive moments that you have with your family.
Some relationships in families are complicated. Sometimes siblings don’t get along after they grow up. People have falling outs. You may have an argument with a parent, and then stop talking to them. Family dynamics are complicated. Some relationships are closer than others. Sometimes you will be extremely close to your mother, or you’ll be connected to your brother. Perhaps you have a close connection with your grandparents. These are wonderful relationships that we treasure. Then there may be other family connections that are difficult. Maybe you don’t get along with your father, and you don’t keep in contact with him after you’ve left the nest. If the relationship is salvageable, consider reaching out to him and making amends before your father passes away. It’s important to appreciate people in your family because they’re not going to be around forever, but it’s OK to maintain your boundaries and not rekindle relationships if you feel that’s in your best interest.
Some relationships go beyond difficult and are toxic. If there’s a member of your family who is abusive, you do not have to continue the relationship. You deserve to be treated with respect, and if anyone, including a member of your family, is abusing you, that’s wrong. Many people come from toxic family situations; you don’t need to reconnect with them or be thankful for them in any way if you don’t want to sustain that dynamic. For many survivors of abuse, it can be hard to sever ties with family members. They might feel a sense of loyalty to the abuser. Remember that these feelings are reasonable, and they can be worked out in therapy. You can talk to a licensed mental health professional about complicated family dynamics, which include abusive relationships. Whether the abuse is verbal, sexual, physical, or emotional, it’s not OK. You deserve to feel safe and loved.
Our family is important because they shape who we are
Whether we like it or not, our families shape who we are. You are a unique individual; however, being around your family will influence your personality. You may get your sense of humor from your dad. Maybe your mom showed you how to stick up for yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of family in your life. Our families influence our identities, and they teach us valuable lessons. Even if you don’t get along with someone in your family, you have probably learned something from them. Stop for a moment, and think about a person in your family who you don’t care for much. Think about an experience that they taught you. Silently thank them for what you learned. You don’t have to interact with them, but remember that even people we don’t like can teach us things.
Talking about the impact of family in therapy
Sometimes our families leave us with emotional scars. We may not be able to heal without help. That’s where counseling comes in. Whether you work with a counselor in your local area or you see an online therapist, talking about family issues in therapy can help. You may realize the impact of your family when you talk about them in therapy.