Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Climate Change In Differing Families- Learning to Adapt To In Laws, Mixed Families, and Extended Family

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 Each family system has a different way of operating, with unspoken and spoken rules of conduct, behaviour, and belief systems. For instance one family may value passion by arguing for the bliss of it, sanctioning those who are passive and applauding those with the loudest voice. Eccentricity may be a value of another family system with the sanctions coming upon those who are practical, deemed "boring" or do not have enough gumption to be odd. Ironically, the family next door may place the value on practicality, flat emotion and a lack of expression. They would label misfits (those who do not conform to practical sensible behaviours) as having a "few loose screws," or "mysterious creatives," or "mentally unstable." To survive, in- laws, adoptions, merges, and relations, humanity learns to adapt to any social circumstance. We learn the laws, the sanctions, the rewards and the "system" of the family so we can fit in to the level that works best. Not all adaptations will work completely.

The concept of adaptability in families can be illustrated by the weather. People who have grown up in cold conditions have an easy going camaraderie with sub zero temperatures. There may be some healthy fear and a bit of risk involved but generally they adapt to their environment with little thought. There is comfort in the level of energy that has to be put out to survive because there is a knowing. That knowledge is based on understanding, and that understanding gives the innate ability to be generally safe to go about the normal. Take the same person and drop them into hot humidity and their ability to adapt is hampered by experience, time and ignorance. In just a few hours they could be de-hydrated in the hospital. As time goes by, if in the environment long enough, they learn some tricks, may have a little bit more room for personal normalcy and may even enjoy the change. But in general their first home, where risks are the least, and beauty can be experienced in full force because of the lack of misunderstanding/ mistakes, is the place where they can just truly be.

We can adapt to our surroundings while being true to our essence, but never fully who we are in the places where certain rules must be abided with severe sanctions. There are environments and families that allow for more adaptability than others. Unfortunately, there are places where more self control, awareness and caution are needed. The idealist would probably feel this is disappointing and sad. The practical person might think it's common sense. The eccentrics might shrug their shoulders and get back to life. Or perhaps some people feel a mixture of all three (or more) responses? * Regardless of how we feel about them, most rules remain. With a lot of discussion, conditioning, information and knowledge the family climate can rise and fall- to a level of degrees. But there are limits in each family to how far those degrees can be stretched.

On a personal level, I understand how this is because I have many systems I belong to. On one side I have to exercise great self control to be respected in the way they view respect. I need to be unemotional, the less I show the more I am heard in the way they choose to hear. It's surface level for the most part. I am aware that any sign of weakness physically or different ways of thinking may be labelled as attention seeking, sensationalist, dramatic or unstable. They are not even aware of how much they use these words to describe people they do not agree with. In this case I am the deviant in the family. In another system I do not have to exercise as much self control, yet I still need to adhere to a few behavioural rules to not be continually mocked. I need to have a heavy tolerance for affection guised as sarcasm and an understanding that to open up my mouth puts me in the lime light...yet I am more comfortable with this sort of honesty and know I am loved more in this situation, so generally I risk a little discomfort to make them laugh. However, that family is not my first home either. Though they think there is understanding much has changed since I was little and the person I am now is not understood.

There are other systems that also have varying rules (generational, gender related, religion, ethnicity, income, ability related ect) but the most important one is what I end up with as the day closes. This is comprised of all those who know my flaws and love me anyway. This family system is very small and requires minimal adaptation. The adaptation that comes with it may be painful at times, but usually is a choice through the love of the environment. My personal one involves my husband, three children, best friend and about twelve other good friends who simply KNOW. It's a relief after all the transitions and adaptations of the day, to come home to a place of belonging where each interaction simply IS for the sake of BEING. There is nothing more beautiful. It has it's flaws and moments of risk, but overall it is a safe place where anything can be spoken of and each person is respected for who they are. Eccentric, practical and idealist, pragmatic, charismatic and shy...the list goes on...but each are accepted without major sanctions or views of deviance. They are simply loved. While I respect the other family environments that require self controlled adaptations, nothing says love, nothing whispers home, and nothing shouts belonging more than full acceptance and truly being myself. This is how it feels to be held, loved and cherished. It may be rare, but it is there in some form or another...and if it is not- I adapt.

*I am not limiting it to simply three but for the sake of this article I am.



**Disclaimer: I am not advocating adaption for family who is physically, emotionally, spiritually or socially abusive. Emotional and spiritual abuse is especially elusive. (An example of Spiritual abuse is consistently disrespecting your views by witnessing, preaching, challenging or saying phrases like "Autism is just a sinful nature. Perhaps the children with Autism just need to repent of their sin?" With spiritual abuse you can not change the viewpoint's mind as they think they are answering to God, thus distance is especially crucial if attempts at peace have been made.)

Check out this link if you think you are being emotionally abused in family situations. What needs to happen is an honest conversation from the spouse that is blood related with the members, detailing the abuse/continual disrespect, outlining boundaries and consequences. IF after a few months of peace talks and boundaries there is still abuse (especially if they do not recognize it themselves) it is crucially important to DISTANCE, DISTANCE, DISTANCE. To these type of people, knowledge and information is power and ammo to attack and misunderstand. Do not give them the chance to do so. Do not let them find you online, stop sending emails, stop attending events where they are and gently smile, wave and move on if bumped into. IF they still do not respect you after all of these precautions it may be time to bring in the law (see Henry Cloud's book on Necessary Endings) but first try peacemaking, boundaries and distance. This will also take self control, awareness and respect on your part.
Here is a lighthearted song for manipulative abuse that seems elusive (it really can be a dark art form). Who needs enemies with family or friends who are like this eh? Stay strong and stay distant. If it gets dangerous or physical seek outside help.
https://www.pinterest.com/KAlluraMarie/quotes-2-loving-boundaries-balanced-forgiveness-an/

7 comments:

Miriam (Pete) Rashleigh said...

I identify strongly with how you feel, which is why I can only spend a small amount of time with blood relatives. I am an idealist, like you, with the ideal being we look for what is different yet interesting about each other. I'm usually too different, too strong, too outspoken, too independent, too self-assured (outside not inside) blah blah. My true family, like you say, is those like you and other friends who find things to appreciate about each other, even our interesting parts (flaws to some).
M.

Cat said...

I love you
when are you going to get your own newspaper or magazine column????

love and light bright one!

Nyssa said...

oooh ditto what Cat said!! xoxo

Kmarie Jones said...

Aw thanks! Your comments meant a lot! This is one of my favourite posts if I do say so myself:) Wish more people read it and it helped them!:) I love putting out words that may help explain. You ladies are fantastic:)!

Kmarie Audrey said...

Miriam: I'm sorry it is like that for you and I understand. I appreciate differences too and am friends with many people who hold the same religious beliefs as others who have been abusive...the difference is my friends put the relationship and LOVE first and choose to judge not...and I am able to just not talk about the stuff that I know we passionately different on and it works...but in certain relationships that just does not happen. I like that you are strong and independent and you are who you are. Some of it also comes down to temperament pairings too...some people simply do not go good together and that is fine...but when it is forced or expected to that is a whole different issue. I appreciate you in my life and am glad I can be part of your family:)

S said...

It is a beautiful post. Well thought out and well written. If only people could get this...that there are different perspectives and we should take time to understand those perspectives. By "understanding other points of views", we can develop tolerance, compassion and we can co-exist. But people are hell bent on "having their way".
I too feel safe when my perspective is not threatened, when I do not have to wear a mask...only in my home, I can be like that. The outside world is too demanding and threatening...
although I find that it is easy for me to accept others,I have noticed that it is not easy for others to accept me...so this imbalance is something that I am always aware of...
I wish that everybody can retreat to a safe place at the end of the day...As parents/spouses/friends, I think that we have already created it for ourselves as well as others...

Kmarie Audrey said...

I love this comment of yours. I also find that the unbalance is something I am always aware of too. I easily accept all people groups but it is rare for me to find that level of acceptance outside of my safe circles. I have also learned that even if I accept people it is ok to have boundaries for people who are unsafe...
It is so important to have safe places. Thanks for your comment:)