Every time this time of year, just before the holiday rush hits, one of the things in the forefront of my thoughts has been FAMILY.
You see, to me, my dreams and goals were never about money or a bigger home or nicer car. My dreams included having a harmonious family, one that really supported each other and had each other's back especially during low points in our lives, but also celebrated milestones and success, and truly valued each other's gifts and strengths, whatever they might be. I dreamed of a family that never gave up on each other, and learned how each other's strengths and differences could actually complement one another to make a better family as a whole, rather than repel each other. Through thick and thin, through hard times and good times, right?
But we are each given a family when we are born, and that family's leaders, aka parents, may or may not have the same dreams and goals as you.
And then when we grow up and have our own families, we find out that our spouses, or our children, may not have the same dreams and goals as you either.
So how do you navigate this? How do you watch your dreams not become a reality? What do you do? At my core, family is one of my top most important values in life, but yet, it's a struggle to see any harmony come about most of the time, it seems like. There is one thing, however, that from my decades of observing family life, I know for sure. And that is family dynamics starts with the parents. Whether you believe it or not, when you become a parent, you've signed up to be a leader, a role model and a teacher. And if these attributes are not in your wheelhouse today, I highly suggest you learn how to master them. If you want positive and harmonious family dynamics.
All the way up to my most recent prior self, I was always known as the glue that kept my family together. Anyone who's ever taken the time to really know me, knows that I was that person. And I didn't have a problem being that person (after all, my passion is helping others, and others sometimes includes yourself; in this case, my own dream of family unity and harmony). I'm all about quality relationships so having to navigate relationships between family members that weren't working wasn't necessarily 'super hard' for me. But it wasn't easy. For sure.
And after having tried for so long, and always being the only one who seemed to care about gathering everyone together, even if just for one evening, it becomes a chore, and no longer fun or even a challenge that one wants to take on. Ever.
From where I stand now, I know that unless I spend hours each week, each month 'coaching' those members with conflict, I knew it wasn't going to happen. People don't transform overnight.
The most difficult thing for me to digest with all of this, however, was that not everyone wants the same thing as you, as much as you think the 'thing' is ever so important. Yes, like family unity.
So now it's been a couple of years since I've changed my own perspective on the holidays and family. Two years ago, I escaped to Hawaii for the holidays with my own immediate family. I offered my extended family to join us, of course, but no one came. I wasn't surprised. And I was totally ok with that. My own family and I had the best time over the holidays. Because you see, this was something else that was on my bucket list (something much easier to accomplish). Spending a Christmas in Hawaii.