Family: Heartfelt Love or Heartbreak Horror

Oct 19, 2011 by

Family: Heartfelt Love or Heartbreak Horror

We all have family. Some of us live under the same roof with them. Some have never met them. Some avoid them at all costs. There is the quip about why families come together once a year at holiday time: To realize why they don’t come together more often.

Family, however it manifests itself in our lives, is that entity that gives us everything from security to stress.

We think our family problems, strengths, challenges, joys are unique. They’re not. We think those who had parents who were richer, smarter funnier, more serious, less serious, more adventurous, less adventurous, who struggled more, who struggled less, were better off than us. Maybe, maybe not.

Take Edward, the Duke of Windsor, the one who abdicated for the love of American divorcee Wallis Simpson. When he was still Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of Great Britain, he went to the wedding of his cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Just before the ceremony, Louis began to weep. He sadly explained that he wished his father, who had passed on recently, could be with him for this joyous occasion. The Prince of Wales just as sadly confided that he was envious of his cousin for if the Prince’s father were the one to have died, Edward would not have cause to weep for the man.

It’s not shedding tears that Edward missed. It was the smiles from his father that had always been absent that caused the tears.

Maybe that’s it: Valuing family is valuing smiles. So the question inevitably comes: What do you do when your family does not meet the smile index, let alone the index measuring love and safety and encouraging you and honoring you?

Maybe that’s when you create your Family By Choice. Famed American psychologist B.F. Skinner, using his inner wisdom, showed he understood that concept. He explained: “In the long run, blaming a person or a nation gets nowhere; changing the situation is much more effective.” Or, as Harry Potter creator, J. K. Rowling, said at the commencement address she gave at Harvard in 2008, there is an expiry date on blaming your parents.

Where there is an absence, you fill in the void. I never had a sister. Today I have countless women friends I call my sister-friends, as they do me. Susan B. Anthony never had children nor married. Many in the next generation of young women to fight for women’s rights came to call her Aunt Susan. She won this title because of her encouragement of them.

Maybe that’s it. For the Heartfelt or Heartbreak to be felt by you when the word family comes to mind, you have to be an active participant. For you to feel the love in a birth family or Family By Choice, reciprocity has to be an active member. Take reciprocity’s hand; it’s worth it.