I love learning about other people’s families and how they interact. Family dynamics in each household are so different, and that fascinates me.
Mealtime, downtime, communication, even division of chores varies drastically from family to family and home to home.
When people are married, the blending of the two-family styles that somehow merge into a style all their own. We learn to respond to our partner, eventually settling into how our home will be run.
An interesting scenario takes place when we come back together with the families of our birth.
We see it at family gatherings during the holidays. We see it any time the extended family comes to visit. I have a friend who recently saw this take place during a camping trip with extended family.
When we are with our family of origin, we tend to slip back into the role that we held in that family.
I was, and forever will be, the younger daughter. In my own home, I am the mom, and in charge. When I walk into my parents home, I am the younger daughter. I may maintain authority over my own offspring, but my parents (father) tend to see me as a teenage girl in need of guidance.
The family of our origin shapes us into who we are going to be as adults. It is hard for some parents or family members to recognize when that actually happens though.
Recently my sister and I found ourselves in a neighborhood that over the years has had a less than stellar reputation. We were going to get some food, and our now senior citizen father was warning us about locking the doors and not taking wrong turns. I reminded him that we are grown-ups, so grown up that we are the people that others look to for safety.
He did not seem to believe me.
At what point do we see our children as adults? Does it ever happen?
I recognize that my oldest is almost grown. I tend to call him a “Practicing Adult.” Maybe by calling him that for a year, I am practicing myself? Maybe this year will help me be able to recognize his adultness when the time comes so that I am not caught off guard.
Even with the adult-child issue aside, family dynamics are weird.
I was around my first husband’s family from high school, they were familiar to me. I became so accustomed to my interactions with that set of in-laws, that I was thrown off with my new in-laws.
My in-laws are absolutely amazing people, and I couldn’t be happier. It is very true though that my husband’s family, like all families, has their own traditions and ways of doing things. As we blend our immediate and extended families together, it is a process, but completely worth the effort, to learn the traditions.
My husband is going through learning how the kids and I do certain things, and we get to incorporate some of his habits into our routines.
Sometimes it goes smoothly, and sometimes it is a mess.
At the end of the day, we close the door to our house with our extended families on the outside.
What is inside the door is our own special blend of family, and that is what we focus on.