Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Good morning Faith.

Faith

Good Morning Lois. How are you?

Lois                        

I am well and this is the season for many of us where we have been undergoing some vacation time to get away and breathe a little bit.

Faith                     

And have you been breathing?

Lois                       

Well sometimes you breathe more than other times, right? Probably depends on what that is like and whether or not you can actually get out of the busy-ness as we talked in last week’s podcast about vacations and get refreshed. So I hope people have had a chance to do that. Have you had a chance to breathe this summer?

Faith                     

Not Too much. It’s been a pretty busy summer for me.

Lois                       

Hmm. So I guess it’s on the future horizon.

Faith                   

Absolutely. I like fall vacations actually.

Lois                       

Well there we go. So for those of you who don’t take summer vacations, ask Faith about that. Hey, by the way, we are so glad that so many of you are sharing our podcast with others. And if you would like to do that after you listened today or even right now, you can stop and say, hey, listen to this one because the one we’ve got coming up today is pretty powerful as well. You know we have a whole library. Basically if you go to our website you can see that we are busy with all sorts of transitions for you to take a look at. We also have a weekly newsletter on our website, which is www.moretolifewithfaithandlois.com. Please go to our website. You can see all of the events we have coming up. We do have a workshop at the end of August. If any of you are interested in attending, you can go to the events page and sign up and join us. So there is lots to see on our website. Hopefully you’ll want to dip into that as well. You know, we have a lot of priorities that are in our lives that take our time and for many of us at the top of the list in one way or another, his family, which is why today we are bringing to you Episode 81. Transition the Impact of Family.

Faith                    

You got to love them. Yeah. Or not at times. And which is the dynamic of family and the impact of how it really does influence our lives and also complicates our lives at times. Family is something that we need and we want. And um, and then sometimes it’s can be very difficult and we actually get into a lot of pain around family, but all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly is all opportunity for us to grow and to become more of the person we were meant to be.

Lois                      

So we want to look at family and a number of different ways. If you have little ones in your household or in your extended family that you are around, you are aware. I know that for little ones in particular, family is the most important engagement they have in terms of relationships in their lives for most kids because that’s what they know and that’s who they hang around and that’s where their biggest influencers are on a daily basis.

Faith                   

Without family, they can’t grow, they can’t mature, they can’t discover. It’s such an integral part of their safety, their security, everything evolves. It’s like you said around the family unit and that’s why it’s so important when they are young and growing and developing and it carries through in life, even though it transitions into different forms. That’s the nucleus of the family that gives life.

Lois                      

It sure is. You know, children often depend on their parents and their family to protect them, to provide for their needs and they are their first relationships. And so it’s very important as to how they look at the world and as your kids grow and are in different stages of their life, they will remember certain elements that some of us as parents would rather they don’t. But they do. And then they have to learn how to forget some of those things as they grow older. But that’s just part of the process of life as they look at family. So for some family also means to just feel secure. I mean the Maslow’s hierarchy at those bottom stages as you’re moving up, a lot of that has to do, especially when you’re young, how you fit into a family relationship and dynamic. So Faith, how is your understanding of family changed or evolved over the years?

Faith                   

Well, when you think about growing up in a family, you have the memories and those moments in time that you know are developmental for you and set the foundation for your life. But then the uniqueness of who you are begins to evolve and separate out from that nucleus family. And sometimes that can be accepted and sometimes it can’t be. So that’s where tension begins to grow. And I had some of that because I think I was cut out of a different mold than my family in a lot of ways and they didn’t quite know what to do with that. And so sometimes some families will try to put you into a mold and conform you to fit their image. But the uniqueness of a healthy family is to let you become who you are and let that evolve. And sometimes you become rebellious to break away so that you can actually become that which is rising up within you. But then having your own family, it’s like it changes everything when you have your own children. And I really wanted to carry what I didn’t feel I had received. I wanted to carry it to my own children. So I tended to let the pendulum go the other way and created very independent children. Like I’m not going to define you, you know, and to help them discover their own definition. So family – boy, you know what, it just takes on so many different styles and so many different reactions and engagements as we move through life. And that all comes from a place of who are we and how do we relate? Cause it’s all relationship. And if we try to make family anything other than relating to each other, we’re going to bump up against some conflict.

Lois                        

Oh, we certainly will. You know, I grew up in a family that immigrated to the United States and my mother’s family is still all in Denmark. And my father’s family had emigrated from Cyprus to Chicago. So we lived in California with no immediate family around us. Now we were a large family with six kids, so we became very dependent on each other for a lot of our social activities. We would visit family. We would go occasionally in the summer to go to Chicago to see family here, and we would go to Denmark. But we really became defined as our family. So we weren’t used to having cousins over or having grandparents. Nobody lived near us. So our family, the six kids and my parents, we just became quite the unit. Not everybody does that, and many people do it as well, but that’s just how we grew up. That’s all I knew. And so I remember as I started to form my own life and graduated from college, that it became very important for me to identify with people that where I came from, where I was born, because I had a little bit of a different background in that my father was Armenian, my mother was Danish, and I used to remember, I used to say that in almost every conversation and then I have siblings and they would say, no, I grew up in Modesto, California. Never mentioned once that they had been overseas and that that was a part of their lives. So you also take from one member of a family to another member of a family can take things that are completely different as to the importance of what we bring up. And I never will forget that because that was so important to me and still is to this day and other members of my family that has no importance whatsoever. So we glean different things. But boy, my culture and how I was raised formed so many of my ideals and the way that I relate to people because I accepted some of those things as you said, and then I broke away in other ways. And there were times in my life where I was absolutely the odd person out and other times in my life where I was the one trying to reign other people in. So I think we see those shadow and light sides of ourselves as a result of what kind of family unit we were raised in.

Faith                    

You’ve described exactly what I was saying before is the uniqueness and the beauty of each individual within the family. And if you really truly in relationship with each other, you’re going to honor that. You’re going to just delight in the uniqueness of that person of each other. But a lot of times families don’t feel comfortable doing that. They would much rather have you be a lot like who they are and then that’s where tension can rise up. But I love the fact that there’s this uniqueness of how everybody observes and deals with the same experience that you all are growing up with.

Lois                        

And if any of you have children, you can see that in your own kids. Right. How wait a second I gave birth to these two individuals and look how different they are. I mean that’s, that’s part of it. And family has also changed just in terms of the over these last few decades, what we see now is family would not have passed for family when I was growing up because we just didn’t know about it. And my husband is adopted. So the way he was brought into a family, what is a family? Biological, birth family, adoptive family, those are all different levels. You have parents now of the same sex who are raising families. They are families. I mean everybody is identifying family as different than others. And that’s the beauty of what you’re saying that we have. We are still bringing in this nurturing quality to this relational setting.

Faith                     

Yes. And we just have to be a little more fluid and flexible with each other in our family dynamics of continually just nurturing and calling forth what we see in each other to be fully realized and if we can do that, you’ve got a really good family.

Lois                       

Because relationship really is the core. Yes. That’s the core to all of this. So in episode 81 the Impact of Family, we’d kind of like to dig in to family dynamics in the next few minutes. What influences family dynamics? Because we were just talking about the interaction between family members that changes on lots of levels and what you take away. The parents’ relationship. If you see that your parents have the strong relationship, the way you grew up will be very different than if you see that your parents have a relationship that is quite combative toward each other.

Faith                     

That makes a huge difference and a big influence on how the children begin to see how you’re going to interact and what’s the safety within the family union because the mom and the dad need to be unified. All the research being done. They find out that when mom and dad are together on something, it holds the family together. It’s when they’re not together on something that you feel the tension and the splitting that begins to happen with the kids. Memories are a huge thing about what influences a family dynamic is that our memories of what we put together is a part of the glue, because that is something that we hold very dear as we share life and we share our experiences. So experiences within the family are something that is very critical and vital.

Lois                       

You know, the number of children in a family makes a big difference. For those of you who might be only children compared to someone like me who’s the oldest of six, what you’ve learned how to share, and I just from something that simple, you see it in like a work dynamic. You’ll be observing somebody, a colleague and you’ll say, oh wow, well no wonder you know, you didn’t have to share with anybody your whole life and someone else had to always piece it out. Different things like that. Or maybe you had a member of your family that had a disability or a chronic illness and you were the other healthier member of the family and how you were able to interact and sometimes it’s absolutely beautiful and sometimes there’s a lot of jealousy that goes into that, that you didn’t get enough attention.

Faith                   

Absolutely. And maybe a parent isn’t there, maybe that parent is off to war or that parent has died or there’s a divorce. All of those are major influences into how you feel and how you interact and relate. And it’s important that the parent that is with them, with the child continued to just really uphold and be in deep relationship with the kids as they go through that. And of course the values and the faith, if you, if you’re religious and the culture in your belief system, all of those are major influencers and the family dynamic.

Lois                       

You know, I didn’t grow up with grandparents, but my kids grew up with their grandparents, so they had a fully different understanding of what that family dynamic is like as a result of having them around. I missed out in a big sense and I feel that fortunately in my generation, all of us siblings, our children had the opportunity to know their grandparents and sometimes that just isn’t the case. If you move here from a different country and your parents are back in another country, it just isn’t going to happen at the frequency. So it’s a different level, but it will influence what happens in your family dynamic. That’s something to know that is completely out of our control.

Faith                    

And then we’re also doing with the functional family or the dysfunctional family. So the functional family are our parents that strive to create an environment where everyone feels safe and loved and treated with respect. And when those elements are lacking, then you begin to see some cracks in the family system and we see it a lot of times in counseling and in broken families and the self esteem that begins to break down in the children who are feeling less than because something isn’t working. And how often a child will say it’s my fault, they tend to take the responsibility for what isn’t working in a family. That’s just how vital and critical that a functional family dynamic really is.

Lois                      

There are also roles in the family that we all take on. Sometimes people will say that’s because of birth order and it might be, and maybe that’s why you do it, but there’s often a peacekeeper in the family who often is in the middle, but sometimes they’re the oldest, but they respond many times because of the dysfunction in a family and so all they want to do is tamp things down so that things don’t get too out of control.

Faith                   

Absolutely. I’m a middle child, so yes, I mean a middle child oftentimes is the observer. They’re observing kind of the broader picture and then they, they see what’s missing or what’s lacking and they try to fix it so that things can be smooth.

Lois                      

There’s also sometimes someone who’s identified as the problem, the black sheep, whatever you want to call it, and that person will often take on the tendencies, possibly of someone who’s addicted because then they fulfill the role you’ve given them. They’re a problem child? Well guess what? I’m going to act this out. And then you end up with distraction from the rest of the family because those who are consider themselves whole are doing their best to try to fix the problem. I mean you can just see how this all unfolds and we use words that are even uncomfortable using because that’s what’s starting to happen in families when we identify someone as a problem.

Faith                   

Yeah. And the scapegoat thing that somebody eventually becomes the one that that bears all the sins of everyone in the family and they feel like they’re being sent away and they’re like that they can become, the bad child can also become the scapegoat of the family. And that’s tragic because again, it’s the missing piece of not seeing that person for who they really are and what’s really going on.

Lois                        

You know, birth order only child rivalries, it really shakes out, especially in a large family. We noticed it cause where you are in your family means a great deal as you work out your life. You know, I’m the oldest. And so there was a way that I felt I had to pave the way and moving forward. And yet my siblings will probably say, yeah, but Lois who didn’t exactly do the best job you could have in certain areas and it’s true. But then in other areas I was very strong, but you notice it now, we just had a wonderful family reunion and there is this kind of deference to the oldest because my parents are both gone now that I can see – I don’t take over. But it’s interesting that they will look like, is this okay with Lois? And that’s an interesting role that I now have as a result of my parents being gone and being the oldest in the family.

Faith                    

You should ask the youngest, what do you want to do?

Lois                      

Believe me, I do. Let’s take this off, let’s get rid of that. But you know, there’s also competition when it comes to that. And there is something to be said for healthy competition and for great conversation. Unless the rivalry is so strong that it starts to whittle away and destroy relationships.

Faith                    

And that’s where you disengage and say I’m out. Because you value the relationship more than the dynamic.

Lois                      

Yes. So as we’re looking in episode 81 Transition: The Impact of Family, we also know that divorce is a big part of family life nowadays and it’s been for decades and decades and will continue to be. So we have now something that is absorbed into our culture, which is blended families. And I think there are so many books written about how you enter twined families and boy, it can leave such a sense of failure if you’re part of a family that doesn’t engage like the books say you will engage. And as part of a blended family now I can say from experience, this is a very difficult role for anybody in any part of that. By the way, whether you’re the parent, whether you’re the step parent, whether you’re the child. And I mean it’s, it’s just challenging all the way around Faith.

Faith                 

Yeah. Because everything’s been turned upside down. Yes, there is pain and hurt because of the split. And that takes time to heal and oftentimes not enough time has been given to being able to resolve some of that deep pain in everyone, the person who’s divorced and as well as the children. When you bring that new person in, then there’s a lot of fear and anxiety. What’s going to happen? That big on unknown that we’re stepping into, how is this going to work? And of course in the moment everybody’s in love. I mean you love the person and you think it’s going to be great, but no, once they enter in, now you’ve got two different family dynamics and the kids are used to the family dynamic that they grew up with and now you’re adding this other person. So one of the best things that you can do is that the person coming in does not become a parent, does not become the ultimate authority, but rather becomes a friend. And if you can be a friend to those that are within that family, it goes a long way. It goes a long, long way. And then all ultimately the advice and the goodness and the kindness. If you can step it up into being a hero in the family, that creates a sense of safety rather than conflict and change.

Lois                       

That’s beautiful and challenging and beautiful. We’ll leave it with that chosen families. This is also something we talk much more about. There are for whatever reason, you may be ostracized from your biological family and we find more and more whether it’s in your faith based community or whether it’s in a kind of club or you buy together, I mean whatever it is that you do that you find people who have similar interests and who care about you for who you are. Maybe for whatever reason in your family, no one could handle the way you broke out and did whatever you did, but another group can and will embrace you and be very welcoming and that oftentimes will be your chosen family and that’s a beautiful thing to see come together because you don’t feel any of this pushback for who you are.

Faith                

And if you’d come from a very dysfunctional family where the family unit wasn’t really together at all, you need to find the other places in life where you can draw from the goodness of other people that exactly what you just said. They can see you for who you are, enjoy you for who you are. Discover the uniqueness of who you are. That’s what family does and so when you haven’t received it doesn’t mean you never get to get it. It is out there. You need to find those people that can really relate to you well.

Lois                        

And you know if you are in a family where there has been some kind of disintegration, we would love to encourage you that there really are always two sides to every story. And I think sometimes if you’re involved in a situation where you feel that there has been less interaction or there is now no interaction, I don’t know how long that will take be. It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be years and yet there’s always this thing in your mind. You can lift somebody up and think about them and meditate on them, pray for them, whatever it is, so that you can always be still thinking good thoughts about people with whom you don’t have interaction. And yet there are always two sides. So if there’s a way to pull back and try to hear or think about what that other person might’ve been going through, stepping in their shoes. Like I say, I don’t know if you can ever fix that and from personal experience – in it right now – I don’t know whether healing will ever take place in certain family dynamics. I hope for that. That’s my logging. But you also can’t force that.

Faith                  

No, it, it has to evolve. But a key to that is be open. Yes. Be Open to what may come your way or what you might be able to offer when you least expect it.

Lois                       

That is wonderful. So there’s just so much to wrap your head around when we talk about family and at the end of the day with the bottom line is that maybe faith and I are trying to share in this podcast is so much about relationship, how you relate to each other, whether it’s with your siblings, whether it’s with your parents, aunts and uncles. In laws, kids, it’s about connecting.

Faith                

It’s knowing each other, loving each other and making that connection whenever you can, your family, whatever it looks like at this very moment is a community of people who want the best for you.

Lois                     

And if your relationship is strained, don’t give up. You really don’t know when this dam will break. Keep them in your thoughts and in your heart.

Faith                    

Please share this podcast with anyone who’s in a transition over their family dynamics.

Lois                       

And join us next week for Transition: The Impact of Negativity.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.