The Funny Face of Family

  • December 5, 2018

Remember the old shows Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best? In their time, these TV series defined what family was for an entire nation: a family was white, middle class, had a dad and a mom and charming children. All problems were resolved in half an hour with a few commercial breaks — no one cussed, spat or got a tattoo. But family is dynamic and the face of family is constantly morphing these days. With half a million children in foster care, 200,000 a year being adopted, over one million interracial families, many two-mommy and two-daddy households, and one in three Americans reported as being members of step-families, our sense of family is shifting dramatically.  Nontraditional families are now the norm.

Taking all this in means we may have to make some internal adjustments. Recently a dear friend observed that I didn’t have a family, because in her mind family meant someone who’s raising children. It took me so much by surprise at the time that I had to take a day or two to prepare a comeback!

Our sense of family lives deep within us. It is a necessity, a drive that most of us never question. We simply make it happen, however we can and wherever we are. It is a compelling expression of self. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that we always do it well or that we thoroughly enjoy every minute of it! And it also doesn’t mean that our definition of what makes a family is always in step with reality. In fact many times our concept is at odds with reality, causing us to miss out on some of the most comforting aspects of this unique way of belonging.

These days, with relationships often in flux and evolving in variety, we may have to work hard to claim our sense of family. The language is changing as new families lay claim to more empowering words to describe themselves. Step families are now as likely to be called “blended families.”  Before you dismiss this as window dressing or political correctness, just think about what it was like for children to hear themselves being referred to as coming from a “broken home.” Broken things don’t work, broken things are not good things, and broken things get thrown away. The language we hear and use shapes how we see ourselves; it builds our identity. Children soak up the language they hear. Parents who know this and want the best for their children must choose wisely the words they embrace for their own. And they must find experiences and books and activities that underscore for their children that they, too, belong — that their kind of family, whatever it may be, is whole and worthy, and that they have a rightful place in society.

At my last birthday party, with many friends, family and extended family members in attendance, a friend came to me in tears saying she was concerned for her oldest child. She thought he might be gay and she was in a panic for how she could help him feel good about himself. “What can I give him to read?” she pleaded. “What’s out there for his age group that is appropriate?” If she hadn’t been in such distress I would have hugged her for not blaming herself or him, and for not caring in the least what the neighbors might think. Instead I tapped a book editor friend who quickly dredged up the goods on the right books. There aren’t tons out there, but they are getting better and better all the time. And I’m proud to have a friend who cares more about her son’s happiness than his sexual orientation.

For some time I was a volunteer teacher in a state prison and witnessed firsthand that, even in the absence of blood relationships, family happens. Not surprisingly the same dysfunctional patterns that prisoners experienced in their own homes is often replayed in the prison setting. But sometimes the experience of being locked up gives a person time for insight into her own history and she ends up consciously choosing to find better ways of being in relationship to others. I saw these inmates building true and lasting, though unconventional, familial ties. Allison*, serving a life sentence along with another family member, found she had to rely more on herself to define what it meant to be a whole person. She could not just accept what her blood relatives told her she should do or should be. She gradually became her own parent, in effect, at the same time cultivating a compassionate attitude toward her kin.

We need a sense of self; we need others. Finding our “others” can be the greatest joy and carries the biggest emotional price tag of our lives. It is fundamental to our well being and deserves our utmost attention. Doing it well, whatever our particular family mix, means a happier us, healthier family members, and very likely a safer planet. So if your family has a funny face, choose good words to describe it! Laugh at that funny face and be proud that you were able to create it. Teach your children, your parents and your siblings that what they put into family is what they will get out of it. And put good things into it yourself. I invite you to notice who your family is, and don’t be surprised to find they don’t always share your last name or your DNA. They may not even live in your house! Family runs deeper than that, truer than that. One day, who knows, we may actually discover that we are all -every one of us —  part of the same global family.

Relationship: Strong Family

  • December 3, 2018

Ever since life came on earth it started with coming together in company of each other. When God created Adam he also created Eve for companionship and thus a relationship started and a family was created. It is not only humans who have relationships and family but animals too are seen to have a family. Have you ever noticed male and female animals looking after their little ones and collecting food for them? A family bond started with the very begging of life on earth. A family is very crucial for a human being. A strong family bond is what we all humans want.

To have and maintain strong family ties the seniors in the family have to make extra efforts. It is very important to know what one wants in life and what the family as a whole expects from the different members. As the couple come together to start a family they should try to figure out what they want out of their family life. They should share their goals and dreams.

The problem starts from not giving time to each other due to various reasons. Couples often do not get enough time to interact with each other and know about the problems they are undergoing. The couples are so busy in their career that they do not give quality time to each other and the children. Taking out time for each other and the family is very important to keep the family ties intact. If you spend time with your family it is only then you will understand each other well and be on familiar terms with each other. It’s only then you will understand what your family expects from you.

No one can weave a family well if no attention is given to children. Children are an essential part of the family; they are the ones who require the most attention. To bring up children with complete understanding and maturity is a difficult task. You have to work hard towards your children to not let them involve into nasty habits that would harm them. Communication is one great instrument to get close to your children and build a friendly relationship with them. Parents must work hard and converse to make children understand what their family is all about. Share incidents about your good and bad phases in life with them so that they have a better understanding of a strong family connection and life which they are to begin. Tell your young ones those stories about your parents and grand parents, about your family ties and relationship with them.

Friendship is what gets people close to each other. Always have a friendly relationship with your partner and children for a happy family. Never behave in a manner that will discourage your children to open up with you. Be frank and give your children complete information on the queries they have. To consider them to be too young to discuss on certain topics is wrong. You should help them understand sensitive subjects in the best possible way so that they get a clear picture of the subject. This will not only help your children take mature steps in life but also build a strong relationship with you as they know that you are there every moment to help and support them.

To maintain family tie is not a one side affair. Both partners have to make efforts to keep the family happy and together, it is only then that children involve completely with the family and are in relation with the family.

Relationships – Family Visits

  • December 2, 2018

It can be incredibly hard when visiting your family, as you might not have a great relationship with them. Your significant other might not get along with them either, and this is a problem that is known worldwide. How do you handle the thanksgiving dinners? Do you even have to deal with it? It really depends on how family oriented you happen to be, and whether you value your happiness or the happiness of others.

Most parents even though they said that everything that they do is for you simple lie. If you observe closely most of the things that they do, their actions, are geared toward making their own lives more enjoyable. This might be normal in a way but it is something that all children should understand, as it will make those trips more enjoyable. If your parents really do sacrifice themselves, and your visits are already excellent then that is awesome, but this is an exception to the rule and not the norm.

There are also siblings that you might have a problem sitting next too. Families are there, but it does not mean that the individuals within them have to be friends. Blood lines meant a lot in the olden days, and still do a bit if you are in a very wealthy or known family, but it means virtually nothing in the middle and lower classes. No one cares who you are based on your last name, and it is more important to try and just accomplish something on your own.

I feel that it is a choice whether you see your family, and should not sacrifice you happiness to see that if it is something that makes you feel sick to your stomach. There are things in our past that we remember which can make the process of going back home not so good. If you are forced by your family to attend, it might just be the sign that it is something you should not be doing in the first place. Unless it feels right to you, those actions will be remembered badly and cause you unneeded anxiety. Life presents us with enough problems on daily basis, and adding to them is just not smart.

If your significant other hates your family, or you do theirs do not feel bad about it. That really does not matter, and any talk about how families are much closer in other older countries is a simple joke. Each country has their own problems, and many of the traditional families are in actuality much tougher to deal with as the older members have gigantic egos and are tremendously stubbornly stuck in their ways. Unless you want to live your life according to someone else, it is up to you to take responsibility and figure out what is the right way for you.

When your family members only call you when they need something, be aware that it is in your power to completely cut them off. No one has to be spoken to just because they are your family, and you should be surrounding yourself with people that you get along with and care for each other. This is the only way to be happy and calm.

Nurturing the Gift of Relationships

  • December 1, 2018

Barbara Streisand sang, “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” If it is true that people need people, then one should wonder:

— Why stress over maintaining relationships?

— Why the excuse that you are too busy to call or visit loved ones?

— Why the feeling of being overburdened with relationships?

— Why is your social calendar filled with one activity right after the other? Are you trying to please everyone?

— Are you constantly on the go and then complain about being too tired to finish projects or handle the paperwork?

— Could it be that you are overdosing on activities, people and things?

As valuable and important as these relational activities are, too much is stressful. An overflowing schedule of activities may appear on the surface to be abundant living, but most often, it is a means of running away from home-front problems. Be honest. Is one of these problems disorganization?

The secret of living abundantly is accepting and balancing the gift of relationships. Take some time to review the balance in your life. Do you maintain a healthy perspective on work, personal projects, and valued relationships while still making time for solitude?

Supportive Relationships

Balance means time for personal activities as well as time for family and friends. Implement some quiet time for monthly, weekly and daily planning. Do not shortchange yourself. Managing your time wisely will give you the opportunity to explore the gifts others bring into your life.

In a previous article titled, “A Journey of Success and Abundant Living,” I talked showed how ‘like attracts like’ and that you get what you focus on. Go back and review that article for a full understanding of living a rich life without overindulgence, overabundance or overdosing. Abundant living involves all aspects of life, including fostering and maintaining positive relationships. If you want to attract friends, then be a friend.

Nurturing Relationships

— Implement the art of remembering by keeping a birthday/anniversary list in your organizer or tickler file. View the tickler file Organizing Resources produces. You can find it on the Products Page of the website.

— Facilitate the art of conversation through face-to-face talks with family and friends.

— Never be too busy to call loved ones.

— Be a good listener. Pay attention to details.

— Be available whenever a friend is in need.

— Remember to say, “I’m sorry.”

— Have a gift drawer so you will always have a small token to express love and appreciation.

— Send flowers when important things happen to those you care about.

— Send special occasion cards and thank you notes.

— Value relationships for who they are, not what they do.

— Have friends from all walks of life.

— Express your feelings by using first person I statements rather than third-person you statements.

— Have a positive attitude. It is contagious.

Summary

The word nurture means to nourish. The act of nurturing promotes well-being for you and those around you. When you nourish people by what you say and do, you add value to their lives and your own. Be attentive and you will always find opportunities to nurture others every day.