By Judy H. Wright
Human beings have the longest dependency on others than any other living creature. We spend our lives in relationships, either toxic or nurturing. If the family of origin was not supportive and loving, we either repeat that pattern or look for other mentors and teachers.
Can you visualize a closed fist as opposed to an open hand? That is the difference between a closed and dysfunctional group and a learning, sharing and supportive one. The closed one is turned inward and harsh in judgment and expectations. The open one is welcoming and willing to help others as well as receive help.
Closed or Open Families
When we look at families, either of birth or deliberate connection, we admire and wish to emulate, there are usually a number of variables present in the makeup. One or more are usually absent from a closed or dysfunctional family organizations.
- Open communication. The members are free to express opinions and make mistakes without losing love. They talk often and freely express feelings and emotions. They look for new ways to encourage each other and don’t just do what has always been done. The family members ask for help, forgiveness and support when it is needed.
- A sense of “us”. A family is made up of individuals with different needs and abilities. Those individuals form a synergy where the sum of the parts is greater than each one alone. The members of the family know that someone “has their back” and will support their endeavors.
- Boundaries and guidance. Boundaries and rules of society are not to keep others out, but to keep us safe by understanding the limits of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
- Mutual respect. Strong families provide a sense of shared history and traditions. The family actively teaches and models morals, ethics and respect for others.
- Affectionate and loving. Parents and families who only touch by pushing or pulling do not recognize the value of a loving and kind pat on the head, hug or kiss. Words and actions of love and acceptance are experienced daily in strong families and then radiated out to the world.
- A sense of optimism and hope for the future. Families that are connected are strong in good times and bad. They model positive coping strategies and recognize life lessons in occasional failures.
Can you and your family change, even if negative patterns have been established over a long period of time? The answer is a resounding yes. The more we know, the more we grow.
Thank You for Your Important Work
I applaud you for seeking help with improving your relationships. Enhancing the bonds of understanding between individuals is the first step in building better families, neighborhoods, communities, areas, nations and a world of peace and harmony. Isn’t that what we all want?
BLAM Fam: If you had to use 2 words to best describe your family, what would they be. Would they words like strong or nurturing? Why or why not?
Judy H. Wright is a mother of 6 adult children and 9 grandchildren. She has also been a parent educator for more than 30 years. Visit her at Disciplineyespunishno.com.