Dynamics

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My family, my mother and father and brothers, we all pretty much hate each other. It has been this way as long as I can remember.

I used to think that I had come to terms with it, found my peace. But I am not so sure. I think about it quite a bit now that I have my own kids.

Why did it happen?

How can I prevent this from becoming truth for my own children?

On some level I am sad that my kids don’t get to spend more time with their grandparents. They won’t get to know how cool an aunt or uncle can be, or play with their cousins.

But on the other hand, I don’t want them to be witness to all of that hate and negativity.

Am I sheltering them too much?

One of my favorite memories growing up was hunting for candy my grandfather had hidden around his house or office.

My father won’t give my kids candy.

At first I thought it might have been because he didn’t want to spend money on them. Or he was worried that as a physician I wouldn’t want my kids exposed to something so unhealthy. So once, I took a bag of M&M’s and encouraged him to give it to them. “You can be the cool grandpa!” Nope. No can do. No candy.

Why?

He won’t even discuss it. “Don’t bring that again,” said my mother.

So, I let my kids think they are super cool grandparents. They don’t know any differently and they deserve to think of them as heroes. But it makes me terribly sad.

I am the only female child. The first born. And yet, my brothers were allowed to drive before me. They were allowed to have summer jobs.

They were taught women were servants. Somehow, they still believe this. They argue. They throw hate at anything they don’t agree with or understand. They make fun of me at family gatherings. I do not fit their stereotype.

After a while, I simply stopped trying to be around them.

I was thinking about this yesterday as we were grilling fantastic food and I was watching the kids playing in the wading pool. I wondered what it would be like to be part of a huge family gathering.

Christmas is lonely.

So is Thanksgiving.

And Easter.

And every other holiday.

I want my son and daughter to love and respect each other. I want them to want to be around me when they are grown.

I wish I knew the secret. I like control. Instead I try to model this for them as much as I can and wait and pray. Waiting is the hardest.

Only time will tell.

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29 thoughts on “Dynamics

  1. It is cetainly possible to break a cycle of negative family values, replacing it with a positive, peaceful set of values. It has happened in my own family. It sounds as though you are well on your way to establishing it with your own children. Wishing you joy, despite not being able to celebrate with extended family.

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  2. Kids learn so much by watching you, not by what you tell them. They’re too smart for that. Seems like you’re creating great memories for them, and the love and respect you show them, they will give to each other. Life just gives us what it gives us, and we have little choice in the matter but to make the best of it. Funny you bring this up, because I am often comparing my childhood to my kids and always wondering if it measures up. At my age, people are spending a lot of time with their siblings, nieces and nephews. My brother passed away before he could have a family, so my kids don’t have that. I feel like they’re deprived in a way. Such is life.

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  3. How well I understand your dilemma. I made my choices when the children were very young. I spoke to them of the dynamics when each one became an adult.

    There is a sacredness put on family that often denies intelligence. Like, “The family in denial together, stays together.” Well, what about if that’s not the model you wish to present to them?

    Good post, as always.

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  4. You’re welcome 🙂 I am a person of faith, so as my elder family members age on to the end point, I have wrestled, but never wavered. I did consult my Kohen (Hebrew priest) once though, due to guilt comments from other family. I do not regret it, nor have I hindered my children who established their own, limited connections, as they are adults now. Best wishes, it is not an easy thing.

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  5. This is a tough one. I decided a few years ago to stop indulging in any relationship that makes me unhappy or drains me. I thought about members of my family and realized I don’t like them. I would never associate with them other than the fact they are related to me. So my next thought is that at a certain point these bonds, these obligations, are a construct, an arbitrary arrangement that is a holdover from a time when we were a agrarian society. A family unit depended on each other for survival. I think as technology progresses, and we become a more enlightened and collectively educated society, our family arrangements will also change.
    And then the other motivator is I have such a rediculously short amount of time left to be alive I can’t afford to waste too much of it. In fact this keeps me up some nights. I love my life and took a long time to get here, and a lot of work. Nothing is going to interfere with that. But I do understand your situation and I know this isn’t an easy position to be in.

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  6. I don’t know what to say and I don’t have any answers. I have two brothers who bear grudges with our parents but I work very hard at keeping everyone together and them from fighting each other. It is sad when i see my brothers having a go at my dad. They go on and on about how dad treated them and how he speaks to them. They have no insight that dad just finds it difficult to show affection but everything he has done, he has put all our interests before his own. Then I see how they are with their own sons….. It seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and unless they change the way they speak to their own children, history will repeat itself. I am sorry for your loneliness. But John is right, life is too short to waste time on people who make you miserable. If you do feel obliged, I guess you could try to make some good memory out of it for your children! xo

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    • We ARE products of our genes and environments, yes. I am not sure I am objective enough to know if I am creating the same animosity with my children. And truthfully, they are young. Too young to really know or care yet. When they grow into their own minds and their own opinions, that is the true test. I don’t want to screw that up!

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  7. I have a sneaking suspicion you have already shown them the way a family should live and love. They think their grandparents are cool, you have given them that gift. Your parents may be undeserving of the title, but your kids are certainly deserving of having that ideal in their hearts. It takes a kind, loving and forgiving heart to do that, there are those who simply allow their children to grow up with the resentments they carry, they allow them to focus on negativity, but you . . . you have blessed them by being the mother you are, by breaking out of the mold you were expected to conform to. I find it to be quite a beautiful thing, I truly do.

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  8. I have two sisters. One I just got close to after seven years of work on my part ( Her daughter’s autism made her a very angry person to be around). My younger sister…it is best for me to love her from a distance. If you express yourself with your kids half as well as you do when you post, they will be just fine:)

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  9. I think your kids will figure out what us best for them, based on their own lives, personalities, spouses and a million variables. And while you can’t make things happen, you can plant the love with which their good feelings towards each other can grow.

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  10. I can’t begin to tell you how much I can relate to your desire to give your children a better reality. In my case it’s not my parents or sibling but other people, and I worry a lot for my son. I realize there are some things that are beyond my control, and that all I can do is do my best, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying until I see my son having a good, happy life.

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  11. I’m stalking your blog a little before I turn in for the night and wanted to comment on this post. Your upbringing sounds very similar to mine at times – I am the oldest as well, always very well behaved, did very well in school, etc. but it meant nothing to my dad. I received numerous scholarships, but wasn’t allowed to do anything other than go to a local college (“It wouldn’t be fair to your siblings), whereas my dad paid for my brother to go off. Never supported in my academic pursuits–I wanted to become a doctor when I was 17 (which I’m sure would have changed), but my dad told me that “women don’t make good doctors” (yeah right!) and more or less forced me into education. As such, I’ve never really enjoyed a close relationship with my siblings either and hope that is never what my two go through.

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