What is it about family that makes us push each others’ buttons?
Is it that we feel safe in the belief that no matter how or why we hurt each others’ feelings we’ll still be family — that old chestnut, blood is thicker than water?
Family is what anchors us. It’s the foundation for all other relationships. I recognize that not everyone has a loving supportive family and that can create unbridgeable distance between family members. But even in families where there is love and encouragement, there still may be contention and rivalry. (Sibling rivalry for example.)
Familial competition is such a waste of time and energy, not to mention emotion. It crates anguish, heartache, and bitterness that, for some, never ends. But what causes it?
Is it that parents aren’t always able to balance the needs of all their children all the time? And, unfortunately, don’t know how to help their children understand that they shouldn’t have to. That sometimes one child’s needs outweigh the needs of his or her siblings? What if it’s the same child who is perceived by the parents as being needy all the time? What about the children that are perceived by their parents as strong, self-sufficient, do they get the short end of the stick for being capable?
What causes one child to be a trouble maker and another to be everyone’s little darling? Is it something in our wiring or just the luck of the draw. What makes one child the caretaker and another the dictator? What makes one child meek and another a force to be reckoned with? Is it all tied to birth order? Is it in our genetic makeup or is it a conditioned response to our surroundings?
I’m not a psychologist or sociologist or any kind of oligist, except maybe a chocolatologist (is that in the dictionary!?!) so I know I don’t have all, or any, of the answers. Heck, I’m doing good this late on a Friday night to even be able to articulate a few questions. But I do know that families should be more understanding of one another than we are of other people. We should be more kind to each other than we are to other people.
We don’t have to blindly condone each others’ bad behavior but we should at least be as forgiving, if not more so, of our family members than we are of other people. We don’t have to like each other every minute of every day but we shouldn’t let a difference of opinion or a perceived lapse in judgment diminish our love for one another.
Family is irreplaceable. A friend can’t really be our sister or brother, our mother or father, our child or spouse. Friends are good to have for sure, but they come and go throughout our lives. Family is constant but it must be nurtured, protected, cherished, or it will be lost.
We’re family. When it comes right down to it, we’re all we have that is truly valuable.