I remember always thinking that having a loving family looked like everyone spending time all together. I would see happy families all together and long for that. I often wondered what was wrong with me. My situation was different. Although my two boys were 3 years apart, because my younger son was a special needs child, my boy’s interests and capabilities were vastly different. When we spent time all together, there was always one of us compromising which impacted our connection. I remember taking my special needs son Greg hiking where he really struggled to keep up and doing so because all our activities were usually at a lower level to meet his need. It didn’t work.
When we were able to be honest with each other and express if we weren’t enjoying ourselves, things started to change. At first, it was uncomfortable and we would take things personally, but now it was the best move we ever made. I started spending time with each of them individually connecting with them at their individual levels and giving the other the freedom not to join in. Andrew and I would go hiking on our own and then I would spend time with Greg at the zoo, which was his favourite place. Everyone was much happier and our connection with each other grew stronger. There was less resentment between the 2 of them too and they grew closer. All I needed was to change my “rule” of what happy family looks like.
Do you have any rules for how things should be in order for your family to be okay? Do they work or is someone compromising all the time? Having open real, conversations are so important even though they may be bumpy; this is how true connection develops. This is how we create the happy family we want.
I found that with this new freedom we landed up having quality connection with all of us together but this time it was out of choice to give love and not expectation of connection. When our needs for connection were met individually we had more love to give each other together.
With the holidays approaching, what rules do your families have about spending time all together? If everyone were completely honest, would you really do what you plan to because of tradition or what your family has always done? Sometimes in our conversations, we even found that none of us wanted what we were doing but thought the others wanted it!
It takes courage to voice our truths, but I encourage you to start chatting to each other about what you would really like for the holidays and see how you can create what you all truly want.