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

374 thoughts on “Honouring the Purpose of Family

  1. What if we’ve got family completely wrong, and it’s not just our support network as we grow up and it’s not just about being with someone, or loving someone or raising kids but there’s a much greater purpose to us being together – it’s our opportunity to learn together and grow together and change life-long patterns.

  2. We have so much to learn from family when we understand it from this perspective Mary-Louise. We can celebrate and appreciate the differences we all bring, and as the relationships develop, and sometimes when they break too when that has been chosen, we all can learn and grow our family relationships.

  3. A real exposing of the truth of what family is really all about, and the learnings on offer for us all if we embrace the choices we have and see the opportunities to break free from the ideals and beliefs that hold us less, and not who we are and what we truly feel. A beautiful offering of what-ifs that allow us to stop and feel and allow more love in our lives.

  4. ‘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…’

    Today I’ve been considering this blog in relationship to the young unaccompanied asylum seekers I am in contact with and how many do not have any contact with blood relatives. They come from very culturally different cultures and often will find pockets of these cultures in the country they are in whilst also assimulating the norms of that country. It’s very interesting to observe how they respond to the opportunity to start again and come from their innate qualities and standards because they are neither in their past cultural bubble and are not from the culture where they find themselves in. Often they try to impose their cultural norms and expectations of the new country onto their experience of it in a very understandable attempt to continue a sense of security in a foreign land.

  5. Just the title of this blog is a stop-in-your-tracks moment. Family is in fact the very last place that most of us look for purpose. We might see the purpose in our work…in our community…in building certain relationships…in sports..exercise, or any other activity…but family?? Family is where most come to switch off, to relax, to hide, to give up, to abuse, to emote, to complain, to have fun…the list goes on…but I guarantee that it is very, very rarely that you’ll ever hear most people speak of the purpose of family. So it is brilliant that this conversation is being had. And,if family does in fact have purpose, then isn’t that the perfect design, because within the circle of family is where the vast majority actually spend the greatest percentage of time over our whole lives.

  6. “You can choose your friends but not your family” On a very simple level, this saying just immediately highlights the separation that we consider to be utterly normal.

  7. This is great, yes if we let go of pictures and expectations around our relationships and family and just allow each to unfold uniquely then we have more chance of them being true in that unfoldment and receiving the true learning they are constellated to bring each of us.

  8. Thank you Mary-Louise and Matilda this is such a huge topic to consider, not just from the point of view of one’s birth family, i.e. parents and siblings but also the relationships one has with adult children, their partners, and one’s grandchildren, and honouring the purpose and reflections that are there for our own growth but also for the growth of the family as a whole.

  9. ‘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?’ – Fighting our own family is in fact fighting ourselves and our natural learning and evolution.

  10. Everything in life, every interaction and every moment is brought together perfectly to reflect our own choices and support us to fine-tune and deepen our relationship with ourself, the whole of life and the universe. It is useful to remember this with all interactions – especially with family where we seem to have tons of ideals and beliefs that get in the way of us remaining in the moment and staying true to what is really required

    1. Golnaz what you have shared is so pertinent because we are perhaps our least alert and receptive when we are with our family. I can’t help but wonder how our lives would change if we focused and worked on improving our family relationships perhaps even above all others, rather than our current way of ignoring them and writing them off as just what happens in families.

      1. We seem to be good at compartmentalising relationships and focusing on one bit here and another bit there. Do we reserve more care and understanding to our family or to the person we imagine is ‘the one’ in our life? Are we more conscious of the impact of our words and actions when we are at work?

        At the end of the day there needs to be equal love, truth and integrity brought to every single relationship.

  11. “One of the many ills of living with pictures is that they keep us in the isolated, arm’s length disconnection from one another” – This is so true. We can feel completely separate and isolated from our closest friends, families, kids or partners purely as a result of the thoughts and pictures we entertain in our head.

    1. And any holding of pictures can stop me from forming deep relationships with all sorts of people – even the slightest pre-conception, no matter how subtle, can shut us down to what is on offer.

  12. How many of us get stuck in blaming the parents/family for all our woes and don’t accept the responsibility of where we are at and why we were born into that family in the first place. Nothing happens by chance and when we look at each and every situation there is always stuff to learn and work through.

  13. Ok… So I had completely forgotten about that saying, you choose your friends not your family – how wrong, or more aptly, un-true that is to everything about us as beings. This saying completely disregards the fact that we reincarnate life after life, that as has been written, we choose the group we are born into for the experience we need to have, and ALSO it disregards and squashes the fact that we can have family with anyone/group of people we like who are not so-called ‘blood-related’! Wow.. our little ditties and riddles can be very reducing of the grandness of life – and this is just one example.

  14. “Do we believe we are hapless victims of circumstance and simply have to put up with what life has handed us”? When it comes to family we don’t seem to take any responsibility for the family we end up in. If we believe we have drawn a ‘short-straw’ on family, we really don’t want to see that there is a reason why we ended up there or that we have any of the same patterns. There also seems to be a resignation that whatever disfunction is in our families, we just have to put up with it. Why should we put up with the greatest abuse we receive in life coming from our homes? I am sure this is not the way it is meant to be.

    1. ‘There also seems to be a resignation that whatever disfunction is in our families, we just have to put up with it.’ – And there is also a thing about hiding the dysfunction, keeping up the appearances and the facade no matter the cost.

  15. Nothing in this life is coincidental or a simple twist of fate, all has purpose, is divinely constellated and is there to support us to return to who we truly are. Looking at our family from this perspective will offer the opportunity to let go of a whole range of ideals and beliefs that have kept us bound for much too long.

  16. This is actually HUUUUGEEEE ‘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?’ Because it puts us in the driver’s seat and makes us truly responsible for everything we have created in our life! Can we handle this? Although it maybe uncomfortable to feel at first it is extremely empowering once we have accepted this as through this acceptance we can then make true changes.

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