If you want to come to a home at the end of each day, in your family, never mince words.
The idea of a family as a warm, fuzzy place, a.k.a home, often times clouds our thinking when it comes to having honest conversations. In our endeavour to be nice to our kin, we end up being fake. Resultantly, the basic premise on which the institution of the family is founded suffers.
A family is a group of people. So are those whom you find on the street. So what distinguishes a family from a street crowd? A family is where you must ideally have people who are willing to be available to support each other. A family is where people will not, again ideally, judge each other. A family is where, ideally, you can speak your mind. But most families have stopped being supportive or are as fractious as any other ordinary group of people. Why? Simply because people in such families have stopped being honest. A ‘loving’ family is somehow (mis)understood by people as a place where people are ‘nice’ to each other. True love is not about being nice alone – it is about being caring, compassionate and candid.
The compostion of a family is really as plain vanilla as any group of inviduals. The word individual means ‘single’ or ‘separate’. Now, how can we expect these ‘separate’ people to come together and bond? Surely a blood relationship cannot help just because it is a common denominator that binds or connects all those who are separate. Bonding really happens when people understand each other. And understanding thrives only in an honest environment.
Building and sustaining that honest environment is everyone’s responsibility. A great family is one where everyone can speak their mind and be sure that they will be understood and not interpreted. Nurturing this spirit of being there for each other and belonging is a continuous process. There can be no room for pretention here. People must have the freedom to choose what they want to do, and do it the way they want to do it, yet, at the same time, they must be responsible enough to revisit their choices, making adjustments and alterations, should the family’s needs require them to do so.
If you want to build a great family, make sure the first brick you lay is that of ‘honesty’. Encourage open sharing, empower people to make mistakes, champion being there for each other and expunge the phrase ‘I-told-you-so’. We all set out to build careers and bank balances. Most often we get both right! If we spent a fraction of that time on building our families right, we will find greater peace within us and in our personal space. At the end of the day, that’s what matters – are you going back to your house or are you coming home!?