“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy
Families are complicated, aren’t they? Family members share things in common, but they also have unique qualities that make them quite different. Everyone requires support from other family members, as well as from the greater community. And often times it can be hard to know how to best support everyone’s needs and create supportive, joyful relationships with family members and others in the community…
We don’t choose our biological families, but we can choose how we interact with them. We also have a choice of how much we support others in the wider community and ask for support for ourselves.
To start building stronger, more supportive relationships, take a look at whether you have established realistic boundaries with other family members, and whether you have created and communicated expectations with your co-parent or partner. If not, now’s the time to sit down together and create a written plan. Write out which responsibilities each parent will take on. Create a list of boundaries you want to set together, such as not accepting phone calls during dinner time. If you are expecting a new baby, create a list of expectations you have for visitors when they come to see your newborn (e.g., visitors will wash their hands when they arrive, refrain from kissing the baby, etc.). You may also want to jot down some ways visitors can help out if they want.
Do you find yourself hesitant to ask for the help you need from others, especially from those outside your family? Would you rather help others than ask for help yourself? According to Brene Brown, social worker and researcher, “When you cannot ask for help without self-judgment, you are never really offering help without judgment.” And if you offer help while feeling judgmental, know that it may not truly feel like help on the other end.
It’s Not All About Self-Care
Parents are often expected to be well-informed, self-sufficient, and able to juggle all of their responsibilities flawlessly. If parents feel irritable, exhausted, lonely and/or inadequate, then most would recommend more self-care, and expect that parents should be able to juggle that too! Stressing self-care can be shaming. Blaming even. Because it can sometimes seem to suggest that if you feel exhausted, irritable, inadequate, and can’t live up to your standards…. it’s your fault and you should fix it.
With loneliness and isolation on the rise, we all are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, antisocial behavior, suicide, and even physical disease and earlier death. How can we create more connection in our lives? Try these four ideas:
- Work on creating deep connections slowly over time. Start by making small gestures, like eye contact, a smile, or giving a compliment. Remind yourself that developing a strong support network takes time.
- When talking with others, shift your focus from yourself to others. Try to learn about the other person instead of talking primarily about yourself.
- Be vulnerable and share your truth so that others feel comfortable sharing theirs. This is how close connections are formed.
- If you want more support in your life, try giving to others in small ways when you can. The old saying, “What you give comes back you,” holds a lot of truth.
With a little planning and conscious decision-making, you can start to build strong, joyful relationships with family and others in the community. At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, we’re here for you.
Written by: The Intuition Wellness Team