Saturday, February 26, 2011

family dynamics

I haven't talked to my dad in probably over a year, maybe more.  I think the last time I talked to him might have been Christmas three years ago; when we were thanking him for the gifts he'd sent the kids.  It was an awkward conversation, not at all the *genuine* feeling you'd expect from a father-daughter relationship.  It's not just the physical distance that causes this dynamic, but the emotional distance that's been growing over the years.

When I was younger, I was more or less a 'daddy's girl'.  I don't really recall a lot of that, but I've been told that there was a time when I could do no wrong in his eyes.  My memories of my dad are jaded as a result of many things that have occured over the years, things that I don't want to get into, as it's not the time to do so.  Unfortunately, what's left of our relationship isn't even what I'd qualify as a 'relationship' at all.  I can't really say that I miss the relationship however, because there is too much hurt.  The struggling relationship doesn't just exist between my dad and me, but pretty much with his entire side of the family. 

I know, that makes me look like the common denominator in this situation, and to the outsider it could appear that I should be the one who just 'sucks it up' and makes the first move.  Well, I have.  I communicated my feelings in a very open and honest way and, without going into too much detail, was somewhat disappointed by the response I received.  Rather than just begin a back-and-forth bicker to try and gain further perspective on their side of the issues we have, I opted to step back from the situation and focus my energies on the relationships that provide me with love, support, joy, and peace of mind.  Again, this might seem that I should have not just 'given up', but trust me on this.  The family dynamic is one that generally does not approach issues with what I consider an 'open mind'.  I did what was necessary for my sanity, as well as the sanity of my marriage and especially the relationship I have with my kids.

A lot of people believe that while friends may come and go, family will always be there for you.  This may be true, and has proven to be so in most of the familial relationships in my life, however I also feel that unfortunately family can prove to be nothing more than someone you're 'handed'; someone that you don't get to chose like you would a friend.  While friendships can be fluid throughout your lifetime, I've come to discover that family can also be that way as well. 

My husband and I are in the early stages of developing our own family values for our little family.  We work hard to create a strong sense of a family unit that has open communication with one another, where we acknowledge each other's feelings and don't view the words "I'm sorry" as a sign of admitting a weakness, but rather owning up to a mistake.  Growing up in essentially two different families (mom and dad separated when I was young) gave me two different perspectives on the concept of 'family'.  However, becoming a part of Randy's family when we were married gave me yet another perspective.  The work now comes in the 'weaving' of these various perspectives to create something that fits our own family.  We've taken the good parts, eliminated the frustrating parts, and are working to create something that give our kids the balance and stability, and a core set of values on which to base their lives. 

I refuse to allow the relationship with my children to ever strain in the way that I'm experiencing in my adult life.  I know that someday I will need to sit down and explain my family situation to them.  I will need them to understand that while I may come across as hypocritical, that from my perspective, there are definite reasons for my strained relationships.  My hope is that the values we are instilling in our children will help them to see past their mother's short comings and understand that the person I am today is because of the values that my mother instilled in me and the values I have refined in the years I've been a part of Randy's family.

She will definitely ALWAYS be 'daddy's girl'

tickles from her hero

my heart is happy

1 comment :

  1. I completely understand about it being the whole side of the family that has the distance. That is a horrible feeling! And it definitely doesn't mean you're the common denominator, even though it might look that way. Families tend to pass these "legacies" around unfortunately. It is wonderful that you and Randy are putting such a concerted effort into making your family healthy and whole. I'm sure it will pay off for you.