With our family dynamics about to change and things starting to progress relationally with my sister who has been estranged for two years, I’ve been thinking about family a lot lately. What are families supposed to look like? What do healthy parent-child relationships and sibling relationships look like? How do you raise your children to have good relationships with each other as children and in to their adult lives?
I probably have too high of expectations of what relationships should look like and have had those expectations brought down a few notches in recent years. Things are getting better with my sister. I don’t talk about it much but a lot of you know that my sister cut her family out of her life about two years ago. We’ve been going to family counselling for about a year now in hopes of rebuilding that relationship and just recently there has been enough healing to start seeing some progress in that relationship.
A few weeks ago my sister met Livi for the first time since she was two months old. That was a really big step for me. Livi is my world and introducing Liz back in to my world after so much hurt and mistrust was hard. I didn’t want to introduce Livi in to the drama that tends to be in my family. It went really well though. Livi was a little confused. She knew she wasn’t her Auntie Sessa but couldn’t figure out why they looked so much alike. It was a little weird at first but Livi makes things relaxed and she tries to get to know everyone. She is a pretty amazing kid. I relaxed and it was almost like old times. There is still a long way to go in my relationship with my sister and for the whole family to heal but we are moving in the right direction.
My family has had a lot to deal with… Less than some but more than others. I always considered us really close… especially us girls. As we all got older though, our lives started to take us down different paths. We didn’t have as much in common as we used to and figuring out those new dynamics was tricky, especially for me who had been in a parental role most of our lives together and has a controlling personality. I’m really close with my mom, some say a little too close. Because of the trials that we have been through together we are slightly co-dependent, but in the best sense of the word 🙂
With all the garbage that my family has been through we have had no choice but to be an open book. We’ve always communicated undisguised, with all the dirt and love that goes with it. I’ve learned to tame my mouth a little in recent years but authenticity and communication are still so important to me in any relationship. I don’t know how else to relate to people but by being honest and I don’t really even see the point. It is just too fake for me then.
I understand that there is a time and a place for true authenticity but I also don’t think we are truly authentic enough. I don’t mean that everyone should go and tell everyone the personal parts of your life that is not there business but I do think that family is where you should be free to be truly authentic and communicate openly. I know that as my kids get older there are things that they are going to keep from me and as a parent there are things that I am not going to tell them but I really do appreciate the openness that I was raised with… even though it was birthed out of dysfunction.
I hope to continue that level of authenticity and communication in my little family while still establishing and maintaining the authority and respect that is deserved as a parent. Hmmm… am I setting my expectations up too high again?