Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

~ William James ~

Family Going Crazy

March 17th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 29 secs

How do you handle family tensions?

What happens when your family goes crazy? I guess most families do have their irrational moments, though they might not care to admit them.

Yet, you do get glimpses, don’t you? Mostly, through friends, and acquaintances. They tell you about the dramas they have at home, and that’s when you realize it’s not just you.

In our case, my father in law has OCD (another splendid acronym for a distressing condition known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Mild mannered as he is, when he gets cranked he goes off on a religious rant that would rain fire and brimstone down on us all, which challenges our family.

But that’s no big deal really. After all, family life has times like that. Far from being neat and prissy, family is where we handle much of life’s conflict and contest.

When Granddad left, he came back in and fumbled an apology before turning on his heels to leave. That’s when I called him, gently grabbed his gnarled old hand and told him that no matter what happens we will always be there for him. Because none of us are so fickle that we’d let harsh words come between us.

Yet, isn’t that exactly what happens so often in families? Somebody explodes about something (it actually doesn’t matter what it is), and family members react. Then, the whole family hunkers down along divided lines where folk nurse their hurts and feed into their anger to the point of hatred.

To me this is completely crazy behavior. Nobody needs to shun anyone when you realize we all are apt to say stupid words, at least now and then. To take the moral high ground in a state of high-handed hatred is nowhere near as necessary as it feels. Which means a family ought to take all of its huff, puff, and bluster without falling apart because belonging is much more important.

Mind you, that’s not to say you need to sweep things away as if they don’t matter. When you feel aggrieved, it’s never that easy is it? Yet there’s a mighty big difference between feeling hurt and nursing hurts. One of the big lessons of family life is that the goal is to find a way to get through your challenges so they don’t harm you. For that, you don’t have to pretend everything is sweet. In fact, it’s much better and healthier not to.

When folk understand that family life is actually the crucible where we find ourselves and how to deal with complex relationships, we’d see things in a completely different way. The at times bumpy ride would be easier to accept if we have clearer reasons to cope. As would all our notions of love. Tenderness and affection that masters hardship becomes something strong. It’s toughened, refined, and better yet, becomes something enduring.

So make all the allowances you need for your crazy family dynamics. If you feel hurt, talk it through. But if you can’t, find other ways to grow your way out.

Living with people we don’t choose is, at times, difficult and that’s normal and natural. While we cannot escape awkwardness, pain, or confusion in family life, we can at least use these feelings.

Your moments of crazy family encounter have value after all. If we see them as opportunities to mature, accept, and healthily protect our all too fragile egos, we can then enjoy the rewards of a robust and satisfying life.


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