What a challenging time it has been for every kind of relationship this year. Familial relationships are connections that can take even more work than the average friendship or relationship. Since our family is permanent, we sometimes forget that this relationship requires intentionality. We get comfortable with the idea that this person will always be there because they are family. This year has taught us to cherish our family more with the outbreak of COVID-19. This year has encouraged us to keep in touch. But this year also may have exposed ways that families can be hurtful and hard to manage, creating a perfect moment to focus on strengthening familial relationships.
Strengthening Familial Relationships
Familial disconnections are one of the most hurtful things to experience. Our family members are supposed to be our support system and a personal community we should be able to be vulnerable around. In real life, certain circumstances may appear that leave us feeling like outsiders in our family. There may be loneliness and even depression connected to this experience. We don’t always know how to open up and navigate obstacles with family in a healthy way. Strengthening the family is strengthening the community. We were all thrust into an intense chapter of self-reflection and in that – our relationships with others are affected. Today, Pretty Birds, we will discuss strengthening familial relationships.
Forgiveness in any relationship is important, but especially familial relationships. A good way to look at forgiveness is understanding that we’ve all done something hurtful in the past. We’ve all made decisions that deserved better judgment, think about this when you are in a prolonged confrontation with your family member. This year has many themes, but the main one is that “time is of the essence”. With so much loss around us, we can see that holding grudges is purposeless. A good process you can use to approach forgiveness is addressing the issue with the person and then allowing healthy space until the time is right to reconnect. Getting the issue out in the open allows you to address misconceptions, which are usually what stands in the way of healing. After you express how you feel, giving each other some time to reflect can be beneficial. Over time, forgiveness will happen naturally and the relationship can continue to flourish.
Oftentimes in relationships, we are thinking about our own needs. We think about what we want from the other person without also considering them. If there’s a family member who only reaches out when they need something, or who barely reaches out at all ask yourself why. Understand the fact that people are only operating from their level of understanding. If you are deep into your understanding of self-awareness, empathy, and balance – that may not be the reality of your family member. If you are disagreeing with someone older in your family – consider how they were raised and how values were curated in their raising. Giving family members the benefit of the doubt is the route to go with minimal things because you simply don’t know what this person is going through. Even if you do know what someone may be experiencing, you don’t know the details. If you can extend grace to your friends, you can extend grace to your family too.
Creating boundaries is the most important part of strengthening familial relationships. The complex but necessary part of relationships is allowing people to be themselves. Everyone deserves to be their authentic selves. If you are constantly shaming people for who they are because their choices don’t align with who you are, then you need to reevaluate the boundary line. My personal definition of boundaries – is the belief system you have about what you will and won’t accept. Creating boundaries with family may look like talking on a consistent basis but not for long amounts of time. Boundaries may also look like loving this person from a distance, respectfully. Boundaries may look like voicing how you will and won’t be treated. Unfortunately, boundaries can also look like having little to no relationship at all.
We all deserve to be loved and cherished regardless of where we are in our journey of life. When handling relationships within the family – be mindful and be gracious. While humans can only be humans you only get one family. Try to love those around you at whatever capacity you can. Remember that connections can be unique from person to person and that no relationship is perfect.
Image credit Octavia Tomyn / @octavia_tomyn_art