Honouring the Purpose of Family

Does the well-known saying “You can choose your friends but not your family,” reveal the fact that from the get go we believe we are hapless victims of circumstance and simply have to put up with what life has handed us? What if there is actually no accident in terms of who we end up with in family; that we in fact choose our family for the learning and experience we need this time around?

If we can accept and embrace the family we are born into, then this forms the foundation of our relationship with family and we are more likely to be open to the learning on offer, knowing we are blessed by everything that unfolds, even if it does not look pretty. This understanding frees us from the belief system that has us as victims of circumstance in our families, caught up in blaming others and feeling like we are haplessly trapped in some kind of enduring punishment.

Bringing more awareness to all our pictures and beliefs about family and all the expectations and ‘rules’ in our societies means that we can start to unpack them and live free from them. There are many rules, ideals and expectations about what a family ‘should’ look like that we are forever trying to live up to, and from this comes the crippling way that we compare and compete with others: a mean judgement of ourselves alongside what we see everyone else doing.

We work so hard at keeping everything looking alright on the surface, no matter what is going on behind closed doors. The key point of devastation here is the simple fact that we are living beholden to external rules, rather than the innate qualities and standards that we hold within which make us who we are and aware of the true potential of all our relationships and what they offer.

One of the many ills of living with pictures is that they keep us in the isolated, arm’s length disconnection from one another as we all collude in the pretence of ‘keeping up appearances.’

  • What if the true purpose of family is to learn and grow, and that sometimes this may not look pretty at all? That our learning is so much richer when our attention and energy is not focussed on maintaining a status quo that can be labeled ‘acceptable’ and/or ‘good.’
  • What if we all have the responsibility and wherewithal to hold our own and stay steady to what we know is of true value, whatever the world or others might be saying?
  • What if some relationships need to ‘break’ for there to be true learning and development?
  • What if blaming our adult behaviour on experiences from childhood is a futile and irresponsible indulgence? At what stage do we take responsibility for our lives, heal our past hurts, move on from blame and stand on our own two feet, laying the path ahead with the choices we make?
  • What if as parents we stay in dysfunctional and unhappy relationships ‘for the children’ because the world says that two parents together are better? And from the adult role models in their lives, what does this teach children about relationships, integrity, truth and love?

Suspending disbelief for a moment or two and allowing ourselves to explore these ‘what ifs’ opens up the possibility of a whole new way of relating to life, family, relationships and the beautiful, significant and responsible part we can play in all of the above.

By Mary-Louise Myers, age 60, carer for our elderly, health practitioner, mother of 2, Australia & Matilda Bathurst, age 51, midwife, primary school teacher, mother of 3, cook and writer, UK

Related Reading:
A true family model for the 21st century
Building true relationships and positive parenting
True Family

655 thoughts on “Honouring the Purpose of Family

  1. ‘To hold our own and stay steady’ living the truth of who we are in love is everything needed within family. There is then no blame, reaction, victim, pictures, expectations or investments but the living of responsibility, our purpose to self and the family we have chosen.

  2. “What if the true purpose of family is to learn and grow, and that sometimes this may not look pretty at all? That our learning is so much richer when our attention and energy is not focussed on maintaining a status quo that can be labeled ‘acceptable’ and/or ‘good.’” – this is Gold Mary-Louise and Matilda, and allows us to let go of the pictures and be more open to what is there for us to learn from. Thank you!

  3. I like the fact that on some level we do choose the parents we get born to, that our choices begin well before we are born because this comes with the understanding that we are here to learn and trusting that everything is configured in a way that allows the fullest learning.

  4. Not having our relationships with family or any other dominated by pictures of how it all should be is amazing. Learning to have relationships led by connection has been a huge, life-changing process.

  5. At this time of year families come together to celebrate Christmas and enjoy being with each other but what if we came together like this all the time and not just for Christmas.

  6. On the surface a swan seems magnificent as it glides effortlessly on the water but under the water it’s feet are paddling away, but we don’t see that. And that could be said about our relationships they can look great to an outsider but behind closed doors that same relationship could be very abusive but we don’t see that.

  7. Indeed family is a learning experience and in my case it is to free myself of the construct of family and know that true family are those around me who choose love first.

  8. What if this earth life is all about re-learning to Live as one big family and this is part of the story of the latest Robin Hood Movie by Otto Bathurst that when we all work together as one family miracles can happen.

  9. Holding family, as is generally experienced, as an ideal to be preserved is one of the greatest hindrances to humanity establishing true brotherhood here on Earth.

  10. All relationships, and in particular those within families, are the greatest opportunities we have to evolve as they trigger our unresolved hurts for healing and provide the place to practice and develop unconditional love.

  11. This should be family 102 after 101 Love, “Bringing more awareness to all our pictures and beliefs about family and all the expectations and ‘rules’ in our societies means that we can start to unpack them and live free from them.” This can be life changing and gives the whole family permission to be who they truly are and to see each other. There are so many assumptions and misconceptions in families from hurts and taking things personally.

  12. Choosing our family was something I use to struggle with until I started to see in me what it was that I had to heal within. Then we have the more obvious one with the people we meet and choose to spend time with. Sometimes I used to wonder how on earth did that happen to me, to understand much later it’s just a sequence of events which were presented to me in order to help me to grow, to evolve.

  13. I find when back with family it is very easy to fall back into old patterns or ways of dealing with things. Families do seem to bring up in us things that need to be addressed, so once again there is a choice to deal with it or not, evolve or stagnate.

  14. “We work so hard at keeping everything looking alright on the surface, no matter what is going on behind closed doors.” – a classic scenario where we play into the external game rules that we use in society forgetting how important it is to remain honest and true to our natural way of being.

  15. Every relationship that we encounter is simply an opportunity to grow and learn and evolve. The so called ‘more challenging ones’ are actually the ones that teach us the most about ourselves and life!

  16. When we see our blood family as the unit which we ourselves choose for our learning ground here on earth, we will come to see that each family member is reflecting an aspect of ourselves that we have either, already mastered or are still to master. Either way we are being blessed by their presence in our life.

    1. Spot on Natalie – there is nothing honest about keeping up appearances, and yet we get to be masters of this, and it does exhaust us – and thus being natural and transparent is what is needed and this in itself does not exhaust us even though it may not fall into the category of playing the external game which is so not natural for us.

  17. Living with blame can stunt our life, our evolution, our connection to joy and can cause all sort of relationships issues in life. I find it is certainly much easier, more loving and more responsible to let go of blame and live the joy that is within us and embrace taking responsibility for life.

  18. It is fair to say that the model of society starts first in our homes where we establish a platform upon which we call “normal”. If the model of society is failing us then we have to have a very good thorough look at what family really means and whether how we are approaching “family” is really the fullness of love and truth we may think it is.

  19. When we embrace the understanding of purpose and the bigger picture family brings, we detach ourselves from the limitations of the potential of what is on offer within family; true love is then possible to lead the way.

  20. I feel we have bastardised and corrupted the true meaning of family by making it about blood family and the many deeply and varied entrenched ideals and beliefs we have around the concept of what we all think family should be.

    1. I feel the same Alison, this has become much clearer for me in recent years as I am more and more aware of what true family means I am also able to then see what is not true family.

    1. I agree with you Bodjetstar, to be honest I can now look back on my family and see that there were huge life lessons for me to learn from and I have. We all have the choice to be overwhelmed by the lessons or rise ourselves above them to know and understand we are much more than our hurts that we hold on to for lifetimes until it is time to let them go and move on. And we all reach this point sooner or later.

    2. I agree too Bodjetstar and if each of us realised our purpose in family and saw our place in the family as a learning ground for later in life, I feel we would all have a very different understanding of family and what we are all here to bring.

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