Do You Like Your Family?

If your family was a friend, would you still like them?

Posted Jan 07, 2014 | Reviewed by Kaja Perina

If you are reading this you are probably asking yourself “what an odd question to ask…of course I love my family.” But, now that the holidays are over and most of us have probably had enough family time to last a dozen more holiday seasons, let’s take a moment to be honest and reflect upon some uncomfortable maybe even unpleasant family “quality time.”

Also, please note that the questioned poised was “Do you LIKE your family?” not “do you love your family?”

I believe that like and love is two totally different animals. We love a lot of things in our life. Love is an easy word to toss around and used more out of habit than a real emotional commitment. We loved our dinner, we loved a movie, we loved the sunset and on and on. But like takes a bit more thought. The word “love” is as over used as “sorry.”

Instead of telling folks that I truly care about “ok, love ya, good bye,” I often say “I like you a lot, good bye.” Sometimes their response is one of puzzlement…"you like me, but don’t love me?”

So, let’s go back to the family and if we like them. For many people, expectations of others are the biggest let down and most difficult concept to get past and/or over. I’m not talking about a big expectation that would be so out of character for the individual it’s not fair to even hope for an expectation met. For example, a client of mine had a birthday over the holidays. It was a big birthday and she was throwing a lovely dinner bash at a swanky hotel.

She lives a few hundred miles away from her daughter and made an effort to see her before her big day. One of the first things her daughter said was that she didn’t know what time she would be able to make it up to the party. My client was really hurt and sad. She was hoping that her daughter would say “What time would you like me to come up for your big day?” We had been working on her expectations and that she sets herself up for disappointment, but we concluded that in this case, her expectations were absolutely in line regarding a mother/daughter relationship. What would have been an expectation that would surely be out of line would be if her daughter had said…"Hey mom, I’m going to take work off on Friday and come and spend the whole weekend with you for your birthday.”

My client felt guilty and ashamed that at that moment she didn’t like her daughter. She loved her, but just didn’t like her and viewed this as a painful jab to their friendship as well as mother/daughter.

Here are three offerings to assuage the pain of disappointment when you realize you really don’t like your family or a specific family member:

• Keep the time with the family or family member down to a minimum.

• Don’t hope that things might be different. If they are great, it’s an added bonus, but don’t take it to the bank that they have changed or it will be like this from now on.

• Have an exit plan. After my client saw her daughter, she knew she had a train to catch so there was an end in sight.

• Come home to something special. A four legged friend wagging his/her tail or purring in your lap is the very best of the best.

• Please, please don’t lose sleep wondering what you did or didn’t do to that family member to make them act this way. They are responsible for their actions not you.

It goes against the morays of society and is taboo thinking that one should not like their family. We wouldn’t dare tell anyone that we feel this way as since we were a little tyke we were told that nothing is more important than family.  Perhaps in the big, fairytale picture that’s true, but ask this simple test question…if they were not your sister, son, father or whomever, would they be your friend? It’s ok if the answer is no.