(The following excerpt from 7 Reasons Why You Should Embrace Your Dysfunctional Family by Paul Hudson recently appeared on elitedaily.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
The holiday season is upon us and I bet half of you are dreading going home to see your families. I can’t blame you — I’m sure many of you have a miserable time.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that bad. Sure, your family may be entirely dysfunctional, but you can embrace that dysfunction and have the best winter ever!
Your family members may drive you bananas, but if they love you, they probably deserve another chance. Why?
1. Because it’s your family.
They may be nutty. They may not be the sharpest tools in the shed. They may be rude or even slightly inconsiderate. But nevertheless, it’s your family — and that does mean something.
I can understand wanting to keep the distance if the relationship is a dangerous one; sometimes those closest to us abuse us and take advantage. However, if your parents always loved you and did their best to take care of you, distancing yourself from them isn’t right.
More than that, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a strong foundation to push off from in order excel in other areas of your life. You don’t need to go on living your life entirely alone.
That’s why we have families — because we need that extra support in order to make something great of ourselves.
No one is successful entirely on his or her own. And even those who appear to be so are usually deeply damaged.
2. If you can’t get rid of them, you may as well get used to having them around.
Sure, you could do your best to avoid them, but is spending time with them really that awful? I’m sure you could think of a couple of things you’d rather do, but when is there not something you’d rather be doing?
Right this very second, for example, I’d rather be lying on a beach, sipping on some frozen drink out of a pineapple, but instead I’m sitting half frozen in New York typing away.
If your family is going to remain a part of your life regardless of what you’d prefer, or think you’d prefer your life to be, at least make the most of it. Maybe get to know them a little better.
I know you think you know them because you grew up with them, but I have a feeling now that you’re older, you’d all be able to relate on a different, deeper level. You may even find that your siblings aren’t quite the pains in the ass they used to be.
3. There’s a good chance that they mean well, but just don’t excel at executing.
Parents usually have a difficult time relating to their children — especially if they grew up in a different country. The less they’re in tune with modern times, the more difficult it will be for them to express their love for you in a way that you understand.
A lot of the time our parents or grandparents mean well but end up making a mess of things. We get frustrated at them, even though we can’t really blame them for being a bit ignorant.
Maybe if we talked to them a bit more instead of giving them the cold shoulder, we’d find that they’re only trying to make us happy.
They may be failing, but they’re trying. It’s the thought that counts.
4. You may not be as easy to put up with as you think that you are.
I’m sure you think that you’re the most wonderful daughter, son, sister, brother, granddaughter, grandson… but are you really? You sure you aren’t just as much of a pain in the ass as they are? Maybe try looking at things from their perspective for a change.
We argue because we believe we’re right and everyone else is wrong. This is fine when we’re talking about facts and we can actually do a fact check. With family, though, we usually argue about things that are entirely a matter of opinion. You can’t win these sorts of arguments.
Our parents also have a way of letting their emotions and worry get the best of them. Often people find that the more their parents care about them, the more they give them a hard time. But imagine how you’d feel if the opposite were true.
What if your parents never hassled you about anything at all? What if they just didn’t care?
5. You can’t change people — so learn to accept them as is.
You may not be happy with whom they choose to be. You may not even especially like their choices. But they’re their choices to make, and you’re going to have to let them make it.
We all make our own choices in life — and that’s the way it ought to be since we’re the ones who have to live with them.
Sometimes we see our parents or siblings making poor decisions and feel a need to intervene — and you should intervene — but if after you approaching them and explaining to them why you believe that they are making a mistake, what more can you really do but allow them to live the life they want?
Getting angry at them or ignoring them only makes things worse. If their decisions are physically damaging, you may need to get a professional involved, but if their decisions are only a matter of opinion, you have to let them have their opinion.
The way they believe they should live life is probably the way they want to live their life.
And if it isn’t and they’re miserable, maybe they need to hit rock bottom to realize that.
6. Having good relationships can change your life for the better.
If you’re aiming to change the lives of your family in a positive way, then it may need to start with you simply being there for them. Listen instead of directing. Talk to them instead of storming off. Maybe if you patched up your relationship a bit first, you’d find that you’d get through to them better.
Or maybe you’d grow to learn that the decisions they’re making aren’t wrong after all. Sure, you’d live your life differently if you were in their shoes, but to each his own.
We may not understand why our parents enjoy doing the things they enjoy doing, or enjoy avoiding the things they enjoy avoiding, but those are their choices to make.
If you want them to be happier, try mending your relationship first and foremost. Interpersonal relationships tend to have the greatest impact on people’s lives.
7. Most of the time we don’t really bother to try and build good relationships — especially with our family members.
We usually either believe we know better than everyone else, or we can’t find the guts to be the first one admit that we might’ve been wrong.
It’s always best to be the one to initiate. It takes the pressure off the other person and in doing so, makes them much more likely to accept a truce.
If you aren’t fighting with your family but just don’t like the relationship you have, don’t be afraid to be the one to initiate more meaningful conversations.
Show them that you’re interested in their lives — past, present and future — and they’re likely to appreciate you more for it. At the end of the day, our family members are just like everybody else; they only want to know those they care about also care about them.