Embracing Not Changing is a four-part series, which focuses on embracing yourself, your family, your significant others and your friends for who they are.
Family. Wow, how and where to begin. Hm, well, it can be complicated.
Many of us may have a love-and-hate relationship with our family members, and that’s absolutely normal! That doesn’t mean you don’t love them or that they’re not important to you.
Although we can branch out into specific extended family members, this piece will focus on mainly immediate family relationships such as parent-child, child-parent and siblings.
#1. Encourage, avoid being critical.
Criticism seems to be the most present and prevalent within the family. And though it may be hard to believe, it doesn’t always stem from bad intentions.
But your intentions don’t matter if the execution expresses negativity or criticism because that will hurt them either way.
Try to replace it with encouragement, especially when the outcome isn’t good. Many people confuse encouragement with high praise, and it’s important to know the difference.
If you’re a parent, encouraging your children even if they received a bad grade or got into trouble, means listening to them, not overreacting, to suggest (not give) alternatives, and then giving them the option to ask you for help.
If you’re a daughter or son, encouraging your parents even when they’ve disappointed or neglected you, means believing in them, helping them and avoiding the blame game.
If you are blessed with siblings, whether it be one or more, encouraging them when they’ve wronged or hurt you, means being there for them when they’re going through a tough time.
Encouragement isn’t only for the good times and for the successes. In fact, when you encourage your parents and children during the bad, it’ll have a more positive effect.
#2. Respect their life choices.
Since I’m not a parent, I cannot speak or fully relate to those who currently have children, especially those who are still very young.
However, as a daughter of two loving parents, I can confidently say that when they respect the choices I make, whether it be who I date or the career I want to pursue, it equals love.
That doesn’t mean that your parents, kids and siblings have to necessarily agree with the life choices you make, because that’s not realistic.
But respecting your parents, your kids and your siblings for their decisions, especially as they get older, is a form of love and a way to embrace them for who they are.
#3. Remind them of their potential when they can’t see it for themselves.
Every person handles failures and disappointments differently. Some turn to healthy remedies such as striving to do better or to move on, while others turn to drugs, alcohol and sex.
Though we are to respect our parents’, our children’s and siblings’ life choices, it also comes with reminding them of who they are and of their strengths when things go awry.
When things get rough for your parents whether it be their marriage, any feelings of guilt or financial trouble for the family, remind them of their strengths and give them hope.
When your sibling(s) find themselves in toxic situations whether it be through a relationship or through addictions, remind them that they are so much more than their struggles.
All of us need people to remind us of our strengths when we’re going through dark times, it’s vital that they know that they can talk about sensitive topics in the house.
#4. Be Switzerland and listen to all sides of the story during conflict.
When it comes to family conflict, it may be easier to side with either person, depending on what their argument may be to that particular issue.
But siding or favoring one person’s opinion over the other without knowing the whole story, will not only dent the relationship but it may give them the impression that you don’t love them.
As with all arguments and conflicts that arise, don’t side with anyone. Try to be as neutral as you can while listening to each person’s side of the story and be understanding.
Yes, it’s okay to suggest possible solutions, but let the people involved in the conflict be the ones to come to an agreement or a mutual solution.
#5. Instead of telling them who you want them to be, express your love for them as they are right now.
It’s pretty self-explanatory but really all it is, is to stop dwelling in what your parents, your children and siblings are lacking in, but be thankful for who they are right now.
Many of us have the mindset that we can change people because of the nature of the relationship itself, but that is a dangerous thought to have.
Don’t tell your child, your parents or your siblings that you wish they were smarter or a better student or that they were skinnier or heavier.
Avoid talking about their past mistakes, because mistakes will be made and the past is in the past. Your parents, children and siblings may not be who they were two or three years ago.
Instead, express to them that you love them for who they are right now, and that no matter what, they can always come to you for help if they need it.
All we can do is to accept, embrace, be thankful and love the family we were born into for the people they are in the present.
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