By Wendy Mednick
“The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.”
Novelist, F.Scott Fitzgerald quotes, “Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They are not like aches or wounds, they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there is not enough material.”
Family is not always blood. It is the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what. Family dynamics are the patterns and interactions we have with different members of our family. Each family has a unique set of dynamics which will impact our development, ideas, ways of behaving, and how we interact with each other. It also refers to the patterns of interactions among relatives, their roles and relationships, and the various factors that shape their interactions. Because family members rely on each other for emotional, physical and economic support, they are one of the primary sources of relationship security or stress.
September 2021 marked the 20th month of the Global Pandemic, and we are still experiencing a public health crisis. Parts of the world are worse than others, covid rates are still rising, vaccinations are readily available for a larger segment of the population, and it has had an enormous impact on not only relationships but family life as well. For some it redefined their relationships, and many saw changes within their own family dynamics. Not only did the world Pandemic bring about these changes, but we also saw added stress due to the 2020 Presidential election, creating political family tensions greater than ever. During turbulent times it is especially necessary to stay aware of important issues that may arise surrounding changes in the family and relationships. This will help us to be better prepared to meet these challenges as well as find solutions for them.
How many understand the true meaning of family dynamics? Can you indeed choose your family and does what you consider family have to be a blood relative? Who doesn't consider close friends family. Many times friends become our main social support systems. They are the cornerstone of healthy relationships. Our close friends are the ones out there when we need them the most. Sometimes, just maybe, we prefer our close friends over family. Is it perhaps because they are less judgemental and do not challenge your morals and values? For myself, I believe my friends know me better than my own family. It is easier to be more vulnerable, no attachments required when asking for help, they just show up! Do family relationships at times come about due to a sense of obligation? How many times have we heard,” Well its family you know”. Family and the dynamics of what it entails are what you make it. Often, these family relationships are contaminated by seriousness, negativity, and sometimes guilt, that sense of obligation. When we choose friendships as our family, they are lighter and positive. We pick our friends and they pick us. Families can be formed in many ways. Years ago we thought of the nuclear family as a two parent family with children. Regardless of the combination of families today, whether it be partners with no children, close roommates, single parents, or relatives raising children, the best family for you is one you choose...it fits right!
The past year and a half has brought about for some families, a scenario of family estrangement. An unpleasant situation, occurring due to differences regarding public health regulations and beliefs. The outcome of family estrangements create a distancing of family members, a negative relationship amongst them. Religious, health, and political beliefs came into play when deciding whether or not the vaccine should be administered. While the differences that drive individuals to distance themselves may be disheartening and painful, this estrangement process becomes extremely troublesome for all involved. This wedge divides families and oftentimes the damage it causes is irreversible.
Within the dynamics of a family, there are different roles and functions. These roles can come about due to our makeup of the family dynamic itself, or due to our own individual choices as well as our own personalities. There are various roles regarding the family unit. There always seems to be that one who takes on the role of the “Peacekeeper”. The peacekeeper seeks to alleviate or reduce family tension, trying to keep the family in a state of harmony. Many times the peacekeeper takes on this role due to the fear of a potential family breakdown. There also seems to be a “Blacksheep” of the family too. They are the ones that experience difficulties, while others are viewed as the “Good Ones”. Family units are unique, they are fragile at times. They are made up of different personalities, beliefs, and values. They test our strength to stay together, to love one another and commit. If not they dissolve with no hope of the pieces that become broken ever mended. Understanding the roles within the family can provide us with a deeper and perhaps a more enriched way of looking at our interactions with each other, and maybe a view of how we treat ourselves?
The best things in life are the people we love and the memories we have made along the way. Family dynamics can be complicated, we all know the famous quote,” Family:can't live with them and can't live without them”. You either choose to love or you don't, there is no should or shouldn't. No acting a certain way because that's what is expected of you. You decide what you want, no matter how people are going to react or treat you. No matter how far outside it is considered socially acceptable. That is your choice, make sure it is one you can ultimately live with.
“Family is not defined only by last names or by blood: It is defined by commitment and love”
Stay Well…..Stay Safe
Wendy Mednick was born and raised in Buffalo,NY. She holds a BS/MA from SUNY@Buffalo/SUC@Buffalo. She has 30 plus years in Sales, Business Development and Project Management. She can be reached at: WFM662@Gmail.com