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Modern Family

Family, ah family. When you close your eyes and think of family, is your picture one of bliss, sorrow, grief, anger, humor...? A few blogs ago we were talking about bodies and we said something along the lines of, you have the body you were born with and the body you want and that example is exactly the same for families, you have the family you were born into and the family you wish you were born into. Family is weird, there we have said it. We were raised reading books about perfect families and ever so quirky families on Television. Kids today are given a much more realistic view of family in both the books they read and the shows they watch. For those of us born in the 80’s or earlier we have likely spent hours in therapy and/or complaining to friends because our family is such a disappointment, where is our perfect parent duo standing at the ready to support and love us, patiently teaching us the ways of the world and then allowing us to spread our wings and fly solo (cue the perfect 80’s elevator music).

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. -George Burns

Family is rarely easy, or maybe it has just not been easy for us. You may be that rare unicorn that loves their family and in return they love, adore and support you back! If that is your story, you are very lucky and we would like to inquire if your family is taking applications for admission? On a serious note, this week’s blog will focus on setting boundaries, working on present and past hurt and setting goals for the family you will have or already have helped create. As well as how to set goal and parameters so as not to pass family drama and trauma onto a new generation.

Obviously, if I was serious about having a relationship with someone long-term, the last people I would introduce him to would be my family. -Chelsea Handler

*Setting Boundaries*
This step is for the healthiest to least healthy family unit. Everyone functions a lot better and in a more calm and healthy manner when there are boundaries set. What are the boundaries, that is for you to decide, but we will give an example.

*Family Dinners and Holidays*
If everyone loves one another and gets along, the boundary needing to
be set is what holidays a couple wishes to spend on their own and which holiday they will spend with their family vs. the in-laws. Talk about this, don’t allow yourself to go along and then feel angry that things didn’t work out to your liking, be honest, discuss your needs and your partner’s needs and come up with a mutually acceptable plan.

For those of us with families that don’t always get along or give off the warm fuzzies, boundaries need to be set as to the time allocated to be in their presence. Some families are unhealthy to be around and that can mean you have to have an uncomfortable discussion with them about why you won’t be attending their upcoming Easter Dinner, Passover Seder, Iftar…. Will your family take this information kindly? The magic eight ball says, Signs Point to NO, so prepare to answer the painful questions and to stick to your decision.

People will love you.
People will hate you.
And none of it will have anything to do with you. -Abraham Hicks

*The Past and Present*
There is nothing like family holidays to dredge up the most amazing along with the most cringe worthy memories. Some of us will prepare with a healthy pre holiday visit with our therapist, we will remind ourselves that this year will be different, that we won’t allow things to get out of hand, that we will stick up for ourselves, our choices, who we love, who we are and then things go pie shaped.

Be prepared for these types of situations getting out of hand and make a solo plan or with your partner, acknowledge that addictions and trauma you may feel you have a handle on will likely be triggered. Make a plan for when that happens, such as when a family member comments on your body shape or what you are eating, or why you are single, not married, still in that job…. Remember, you are amazing and nothing anyone says to the contrary changes that fact. Also remember that some of us aren’t blessed with a family that supports or loves us and that doesn’t make us less then, it makes us more empathetic to others, it makes us more tenacious and it makes us more resilient.

Family is supposed to be our safe haven. Very often, it’s the place where we find the deepest heartache.
-Iyanla Vanzant

*Creating the family you dreamed of*
The amazing news is that you can stop the cycle of family trauma and pain in the family you or you and a partner create. Family isn’t always related by genetics, so regardless of how you create your family, whether it be by forging deep friendships, by marriage, by having children (by birth, adoption and/or fostering), etc. you are given the chance to create something new and beautiful. Just remember this beautiful new family you have helped create is not a blank slate, you bring your hurt and trauma into it, as does your partner and if your children came to you via adoption or fostering, they too have their own family baggage. So picture it like this, you are in front of a big blank canvas and you are thinking great, this is new and pristine, let's draw and create something new and beautiful! But no, first there are splashes of color representing all your collective past hurt and family history from each of you thrown onto the canvas. Now it's up to you all to take this splattered canvas and paint a beautiful picture with the color that is already on the canvas. Hard, but not impossible. It takes patience, support, sometimes therapy and counseling to find your way, but the outcome can be astounding.

All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.
-Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Just remember, the people that smile the brightest and look the most normal have a stylist, good lighting and a great PR team standing in their wake. For us mere mortals, do your best, ask for forgiveness when it is warranted, give and get support, eat well, drink lots of water, take care of your physical and mental health, set boundaries and love deeply.

As always, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life and a witness to your journey. -Team SG

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