Family Ties

13 Aug 2013

Poet and humanitarian Mya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I have a blended family. No, my parents never divorced. Rather they adopted 4 when they found out they couldn’t have any more after me (I’m homemade).

Having a blended family has presented some unique challenges over the years. My siblings and I come from four birth mothers and two countries. When we were born and the order in which we joined the family are completely unrelated. We are a mix of genders, races and cultures.

My siblings and their kids have gone on to marry all sorts of other flavors. A family photo looks like a who’s who from the United Nations.

This week many of us came from four states to celebrate of our mother’s 80th birthday. It was a fantastic day. No one got their feelings hurt. There was no drama. There was no competition. The day was filed with fun, talking, laughing and having a wonderful time together. 

 

I think it was one of the best family days I’ve ever experienced. We all need those.

So what makes for great family get-togethers, and relationships in general?

Generosity: Large doses of this of this go a long way. We can be generous with our time, affection, and sharing of resources to create a successful event.

Kindness: Sometimes our familiarity makes us short with each other. We know how to push each other’s buttons. It’s better to focus on the positive and just be nice. (Sometimes we’re nicer to perfect strangers!)

Listening: Active listening goes a long way towards ascribing worth to the other person. What someone else has to say is likely more important than what I have to tell them, so learning to shut up and focus on them can facilitate deeper conversations and more profound relationships. At the party, I tried to pull almost everyone aside to ask a few questions about how they’re doing and what's new in their lives. Getting quality one-on-one time in a noisy group can be a challenging, but you can make it happen if you want it bad enough. I felt like I connected with almost everyone at the party.

Love: We genuinely love and like each other. Love is to prefer the other.

Affection: For the most part, boys wrestle., girls cuddle, and babies snuggle. And if given the chance, they will entertain you! Touch, eye contact, time, all these are ways to show, “I love you.”

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