Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Holidays: Family Wounds and “Homecoming”!

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

I hope that Thanksgiving was special for you and that some positive form of “family” (of origin or of choice) was experienced.  Family or origin, or lack of it, creates optimal strengths for the future or serious wounds that delimit growth potential. The holidays bring forth the deepest emotions about family. More so than any other time of year.

 

John Bradshaw has been one of the foremost teachers in helping people understand the deepest part of who they are and how they got that way.  His many books, beginning with THE FAMILY, and PBS appearances have been impactful to those willing to look at themselves and the life they lead.

 

HOMECOMING is another of Bradshaw’s seminal books. I would like to share some of its key concepts with you, plus my added commentary.  Emphasis here will be on some of the major contaminants of a healthy personality.  You may well see yourself in one or more of the categories.  Take a gander at these “wounded” personality traits.

 

1. CO-DEPENDENCE: This person has not developed a true identity from within. S/he is out of touch with the deepest feelings, needs, and desires.  S/he depends on others for a sense of self.  Often this person is a “human doing”, out of touch with his or her true “being” side. Certain basic childhood needs were unmet blocking the ability of the person to know who s/he is.

2. OFFENDER BEHAVIORS: These folks take no responsibility for their behavior.  They often are reckless in their way of life. Beware, these are dangerous people to have in your life.

3. NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIORS: These people have an insatiable craving for love, attention, and affection.  Everything is about them.  Often they need excessive materialistic things to give them a sense of self worth.  Often they develop some sort of addictive personality – either positive or negative.

4. TRUST ISSUES:  These people usually are on guard and very much in control. This keeps them safe and also emotionally untouchable. You will not get close to them.

5.  ACTING OUT/ACTING IN: This type either “acts out” with anger or “acts in” with fear and depression.

6. MAGICAL BELIEFS: These people develop an unreal belief system that they can buy into so that they can feel secure or have self worth. It is hard for these people to be grounded in reality and accountability.

7. INTIMACY DYSFUNCTION: These people move back and forth between fears of abandonment and a fear of engulfment.  “Don’t leave me”.  “Don’t get too close”. Thus the walls protecting emotional hurts that keep the other out, stay tall and deep.

 

Most people have some or much of the above wounded personality parts. There are no perfect people, except for the “narcissistic” who live in their own distorted hedonistic world.  Much of the above mentioned weaknesses come from early childhood experiences.  Besides genetic orientation, a person’s experience in the family, or not having family, is the greatest factor in the development of one’s personhood.

 

Hopefully you have been open enough to objectively see a part of yourself portrayed above that you can continue to work on being the best person you can be.  If you are such a person you love yourself, are aware from whence you have come, and are capable of giving and receiving love.  If there is further work to be done I encourage you to do your HOMECOMING work.  To be in touch with the deepest part of your being is worth the effort!

 

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

 

Thanksgiving: What Does It Mean This Year? Family?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

We celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving this week.  Thanks  giving.    Giving  thanks.  Are you thankful?  Are you giving thanks to anyone?  I invite you to use this column as an opportunity to reflect on what this holiday means to you.

Thanksgiving is different than other holidays.  It is not about gift giving, Easter eggs, patriotism, or religious practices.  It is about uniting, coming together.

Thanksgiving is about family.  No other holiday brings family together in quite the same way.  Airlines and highways are crowded as family members assemble.  It is not just about that tasty turkey!

Walk down memory lane for a moment.  What was Thanksgiving like in your family when you were growing up?  What was your family like?  Extended family?  What kind of family do you have now?  What people are considered “family” for you? How will you celebrate, or just get through, Thanksgiving this year?

As we grow older family members go off in various directions, physically and emotionally, for different reasons. Some remain close, others have little connection.  There are reasons.

Dysfunctional families, divorces, and deaths have left people bereft of available family members.  You may be glad some are gone, others are mourned.  John Bradshaw, a noted family psychologist, has written about “family of origin” and “family of choice”.  For those who do not have a healthy connection with their biological and marital related family, they can create/choose a different kind of “family”.  These family members may come from church, synagogue, recovery community/group, neighborhood, or “Cheers” tavern.

Thanksgiving can be a very lonely day for some if there is no “family” present for connection.  If you are in a position to invite such a person into your gathering, please do so.  Or, perhaps, go to a place that is serving turkey to the homeless or other less fortunate people.

Hopefully this Thanksgiving will be special as you are able to participate in a loving and welcoming “family” of one sort or another – and that you are giving thanks for that.  If not this year, perhaps you can create a better “family” to share in next year.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

 

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Spouse, You Don’t Have to Tell Your Parents Everything!

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

This blog is inspired by something I read in a newspaper.  A woman asked for advice from a free lance writer/columnist (yes, that certainly is the person one should write for marriage advice!).  Her dilemma was that she and her husband of a year were having marriage problems.  She left him for a few months and went back to Mama and Papa. While living there she bad mouthed her husband.  Later she and her husband worked it our. BUT, now her parents refuse to talk to the husband or come over to visit.  This lass is torn between her parents and her husband.

This problem, in some form or another, is presented to me on a regular basis.  The good news here is that a spouse has a good relationship with her parents.  The bad news  is that she polluted the family waters with her negative comments about her spouse.  “Family blood” is impactful here.  The talked about spouse becomes the enemy forever more.

Lest any of you think that it is only women who talk to their parents about marriage travails, you are wrong.  A surprising number of men do the same.  The adage TMI -Too Much Information – is pertinent in these situations.

Certainly in marriage mistakes, sometimes grievous, are made.  Marriages go through challenging times. Many adult children are close to their parents and routinely seek advice from them. Most parents care and want to be helpful.

However, in regard to marriage details, do not share them with your parents.  To say, “we are having a rough time” is fair enough to share.  Do not give details or bad mouth your spouse.  Just ask for loving support. Beyond that only danger lurks.

So, you’re dying inside from your troubled marriage.  Who can you talk to?  My advice here is simple.  If you must talk, share with one friend confidante, one who will listen, support, and not tell anyone else.  You know, of course, that this person, hearing only your version of the story, will take your side.  The support feels nice, but the advice will be biased – and perhaps wrong. There is danger here as well.  If you do patch it up with your spouse your friend may have difficulty accepting your spouse as before based on the info you have shared.

The damage of such sharing with parents is most often significant and irreparable.  Many people do not understand the impact of words spoken.  They are damaging and cannot be taken back.  The results continue to linger and fester.

Back to the lady who is having trouble choosing between her parents and her spouse.  The right choice is simple.  You choose your spouse, your life partner.  In time, hopefully, her parents will see that the bedeviled spouse is now making a good effort and that their daughter is happier.  They will forgive the spouse, and perhaps even know that they heard a one-sided version of what was going on in the marriage.

Other people do not need to know the private intimate details of your marriage. A confidante support, okay; the world knowing your marriage problems, not okay.  Such blabbing comes back and bites you where it hurts – every time.

I salute those of you who have been able to keep your marriage woes private.  Those of you who go to your parents with details, please stop. It is in nobody’s best interest to do so.  As for you parents, do not ask too many questions.  None of your business.

If the marriage is finished, every effort to salvage it has failed, then it is most appropriate to speak to your parents and ask for their support.  Again, however, don’t share too much information, especially if you have children with your divorcing husband.

 

(Knowing that every rule or norm has exceptions, there may be a particular family and situation where communication between adult child and parent may be appropriate.  Just be sure and be careful)

If you have a problem seek out a consultation with a Marriage and Family Therapist who can assist you to evaluate the issues and come up with a game plan for marriage success.

 

A Son Who Gets It Done and Inspires: Proud of You, Kris!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

 

Most parents understand that they are to teach their children a number of things. Good morals and manners, responsibility, give it your best in whatever you do, etc… are a few of parental responsibilities. A parent teaches best by example which buttresses the preachments offered.  I
believe most parents try their best to be good role models and teachers of their children.  Intention is one thing. Capacity is another.  Some parents do not have the capacity, the skill sets, to effectively teach and model desired behavior.

Sherry and I have been incredibly fortunate to have our children turn out to be the special
people that they have become. (No parental bias involved here!) Each has unique and special traits that are admirable and remind us to continually try be good role models for them and “walk our talk”.

A trait that Sherry and I value highly is to do what we say we are going to do, do it when we said we would do it, and do it as best that we are able. Our son, Kris, has many strengths of character and behavior.  One of his best qualities is that he is accountable. He “shows up” and does his very best at anything he commits to. And he is tenacious!  He will give his best effort to figure out the optimal solution no matter how long it takes.  When he comes to visit us at the Lake we usually have our list of technological problems for him to address. His Management Information Systems undergraduate degree and MBA degrees from UGA have given him special skills which he diligently applies to the task before him.

It is a wonderfulfeeling for a parent to feel proud of their children and inspired by them to be
the best person possible.  I am grateful to Kris, and Brittany, for continuing to include us in their lives in the loving ways that they do. Their character and work ethic are noteworthy.

As I review this heart centered article the Socratic educator in me comes forth and asks the
following questions:

  1. Are you a good parent? Did you do your best in raising your children?  Do you owe them
    any apologies for when you have fallen short?
    (Over the years I have apologized to our children when I have fallen
    short. Probably owe them a few more which have conveniently slipped my mind!))
  2. Are you proud of your children?  Have you told them that?  In specifics?
  3. What positive attributes of your children particularly stand out?
  4. Do any of their attributes continue to remind you to do your best in a particular area?

Thanks, Kris, for being the wonderful young man that you are. You have been the inspiration for this article which I hope will inspire others along these lines.

P.S. And, Happy Birthday this week! Where are we celebrating it this year?

What Is a Healthy Family?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

     What is a healthy family?  Usually the only one we know is the one we came from, and that is considered normative.  The following is an attempt to bring some objectivity to the understanding of a healthy family.

1. HAVE CLEAR PRIORITIES.  FAMILY IS  IMPORTANT.  EACH PERSON IS VALUED.

2. ACTIVELY LOVE ONE ANOTHER.      THERE ARE DAILY HUGS AND “I LOVE YOU’S”  SHARED.   LOVING WORDS AND TOUCH ARE IMPORTANT!    THE  FAMILY IS A SECURE PLACE TO BE.  SECURITY IS CRITICAL.

3. COMMUNICATES.    LISTENS (WHAT THE OTHER IS  SAYING, BOTH VERBALLY AND NON VERBALLY)    ASSERTS ( MEMBERS STATE THEIR PERCEPTIONS AND NEEDS)  

4. RESPECTS AND TRUSTS  ONE ANOTHER.  (R & T ARE THE FOUNDATION OF LOVE.    LYING  DOES NOT  HAPPEN.  PRIVACY AND GROWING INDEPENDENCE  IS VALUED.   BOUNDARIES ARE SET AND RESPECTED.

5. WORKS   AND  PLAYS  TOGETHER.   THINGS  ARE ACCOMPLISHED,  AND FUN  HAPPENS.  A SENSE OF HUMOR  EXISTS  IN THE FAMILY.

6. FORGIVES AND ASKS TO BE FORGIVEN.  EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES

7. HAS   EXPECTATIONS.   IT HAS CONSISTENCY   THERE  ARE  ROLES/,  RULES,/ & RESPONSIBILITIES.  THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES,  POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE, FOR PERFORMANCE.

8. THANKS AND EXPRESSESS GRATITUDE TO ONE ANOTHER.

9. FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTABILITY  ARE PRESENT.  THINGS ARE NOT RIGID. THE FAMILY IS DEVELOPMENTAL, GOES THROUGH DIFFERENT AGES AND STAGES.

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.  CHANGE  IS WELCOMED.

10. HAS CLEAR VALUES AND MORALS.   IT INVITES SPIRITUALITY.

SEVEN  STRENGTHS OR RESILIENCIES THAT EMERGE FROM  A HEALTHY FAMILY

1.  INSIGHT  OR  AWARENESS.  PEOPLE ARE TUNED IN, STATE THEIR PERCEPTIONS, ASK TOUGH QUESTIONS.  WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?

2.  INDEPENDENCE  — PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY.   THERE IS A STRONG

SENSE OF SELF, NOT NEEDY OR DEPENDENT ON SOMEONE ELSE FOR HAPPINESS     

3. CAPABLE  OF DEVELOPING APPROPRIATE  RELATIONSHIPS  WITH OTHERS

IN VARIOUS SITUATIONS AND STAGES OF ONE’S LIFE  — IN WORK, PLAY,

FRIENDSHIP, AND ROMANCE.

4. INITIATIVE.   SEEING A PROBLEM AND DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

5.  CREATIVITY    BE ABLE TO CREATE OR MAKE HAPPEN SOMETHING SPECIAL

6. HUMOR.  BE ABLE TO SEE THE LIGHT SIDE OF THINGS.

7. BE MORAL.  HAVE AN INFORMED CONSCIENCE  AND BE ABLE TO PUT IT INTO

PRACTICE.   “TO WALK THE TALK”