Family relationships! They can be a source of joy or frustration. In most cases it’s both! Now that I myself am a mom, I’ve come to understand how hard of a task it is to raise children. It’s not simply about providing shelter, food and clothing. It’s more involved than that. Especially in the area of maintaining a good relationship with each one of them.
Growing up in a broken home, I thought all that was needed to have a happy family was for the marriage to remain intact! That was naive thinking on my part. I can say I was clueless about what was needed for a relationship to truly function. My perception of a happy marriage was based on “happily ever after” stories and movies. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, there’s a problem, it gets solved, they marry and it’s all good. Anyone entering a marriage with these expectations is bound to be disappointed. It makes for a bad foundation to build a family on, because it’s based on illusion not reality.
I’ve now come to realize that one of the best gifts I can give my children, is to have a good relationship with my husband. It’s not simply about avoiding arguments. It’s about being sensitive to each other’s feelings. Listening to understand one anothers’ thoughts and opinions. Our children are growing up in the space between us. If there’s toxic energy in that space they will feel it. This may not be new for anyone out there, but it may as well have been rocket science because I wasn’t “getting” it.
What about our relationship with our parents? Does that affect our spouse and children? Why do I ask? Well, how we communicate was learned from them. How effective is it? Do we find that we have a hard time expressing ourselves and understanding others? Do we avoid conflicts at all costs, resolve them peacefully, or instigate them? Do things get swept under the rug to maintain peace? I never thought it mattered how well or how bad my communication with my parents was, much less how it affected my family.
After reading an article on this subject I began asking myself some hard questions. The article mentioned that there’s a direct link between how we communicate with our parents and how we communicate with our own family. It sounded interesting. I myself never had a good relationship with my dad. I was terrified of him. His anger was unpredictable and explosive. I’m aware he isn’t gonna punish me now that I’m grown, but that fear hasn’t completely gone away. This has affected how I interact with my husband. When he’s upset, I don’t try to understand the reason why, I simply retreat in fear. Just like I did with my father. I’d never realized how unhealthy this was for our relationship. Not that I want to go the other way either (fights and arguments), but my goal now is to find a healthy balance.
What about with my children? Well, that’s even harder to face. I find I mirrored both my parents in this area. I’ve been that parent who has held their child to a higher standard than I myself was willing to follow. I’ve let them see disappointment in my eyes. I’ve judged them harshly and been overly critical. This may not have been so bad if I had used more praise; been more patient and understanding. I could’ve openly shared my mistakes and apologized too. I have a lot to make up for. They may, or may not choose to forgive my mistakes. But that shouldn’t keep me from maturing and learning as a mother. I don’t have it all together, but I love them enough to show my vulnerable side.
Being proud led me down a dead end road. There was no growth there. It kept me from searching for better ways to do things. I figured if it wasn’t broken there was no need to fix it. Well, I didn’t want to wait until my family “broke” in order to start changing unhealthy habits, my communication included. Making mistakes is unavoidable. Admitting and working to correct them is courageous. Not acknowledging them or placing the blame somewhere else is cowardly. Our kids deserve better than that!
Who doesn’t want a happy family? Unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically happen, not without work on our part. We will fall into comfort zones, hit plateaus, but we don’t want to stay there. When we want to advance in our job, we keep learning. Some people will invest in college courses to move up in their career. How much would our family benefit if we put forth the same effort for them, for us?
To say that my communication skills needed some updating would be an understatement. Breaking old habits and ingrained thought patterns has been my biggest challenge yet!
I’m a work in progress, but some progress is better than no progress!
Love you guys ; )