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Family relationships and wellbeing

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Having good relationships with family members is a powerful source of strength and wellbeing in our lives.

Having good relationships with family members is a powerful source of strength and wellbeing in our lives.

Having good relationships with family members is a powerful source of strength and wellbeing in our lives.

The world celebrated Father’s Day last weekend. It was heartening to see so many people all over social media and out and about giving thanks and appreciation to their fathers – birth, step and even the father figures in their lives. I always feel very blessed to have had a great dad and to have had the chance to tell him that before he passed on almost twenty years ago.

Family is so important.  Having good relationships with family members is a powerful source of strength and wellbeing in our lives.  Wellbeing is a state of being: ‘happy, healthy and or comfortable’.  Strong family bonds offer comfort, support, and strength in the tough and good times.   And, they give a sense of connection and belonging that is hard to find elsewhere. 

Sadly, family relationships are also a source of great stress when not going well.  Difficult and even toxic relationships are one of the biggest sources of stress we experience.  None of us are perfect.  We all made mistakes. Sometimes we do them deliberately and others unintentionally. Sometimes problems happen in relationships through selfishness and thoughtlessness and others because of unrealistic expectations or poor communications.   

I spoke with a friend last week.  He is a father but is not currently speaking to his only son – who he loves very much. He says: ‘it’s complicated’.  Each year at this time and at Christmas and birthdays he gets lost in thought about it.  He wonders what he can do to heal their relationship?  After a lot of angst and self-questioning, he now feels he has done what he can and has made it clear the door is open whenever his son is ready.  It took a lot to get to that place.     

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I have another friend who, after seven years of no contact with her adult daughter, is now slowly building a connection again.  She is so grateful for the chance to rebond again.  A lot of lessons have been learned by her and others involved.  A lot of patience is needed to heal such situations.  There are rarely quick fixes. 

If there are people you have difficulty with – whether family or close friends – it is always good to go back and see if there is something you can do to improve things – if you are ready.   In such situations, the first step is to take stock and decide what you want to do.  Are you ready to let go, listen / take responsibility / move on? If you are not sure, take more time and work it out. Let go of anger.  Learn the lesson and let go of the poison. 

Be open, positive and have grounded expectations.  Take things slowly.  Know how you feel.  Are you ok to let things go?  Or do you want to resolve certain things before you move forward.   Many years ago when I was complaining to a friend about something, he asked me the simple question: ‘do you want to be right or happy?’ It struck a chord.  Being ‘right’ makes someone else ‘wrong’.  It is never helpful. They say that healing happens when we start to take responsibility for our part in things. 

If there are relationships that matter to you that are not going the way you want them to – take a step back and see if there is something you can do to improve things.  Changing perceptions, taking an action, taking time to listen and understand, having a conversation or simply letting go or be are all options for improving our relationships and wellbeing. 

 


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