Maintaining A Strong Family Connect

by Mr. Ishwar Parmar | Chapter 7, Act 1

The Psychology behind hurting our loved ones

Modern-day living has been responsible for severed family ties. We tend to take the ones who are close to us for granted from time to time. We often hurt the ones that love and cherish us the most. However, no one really understands the reason we inflict pain on our near and dear ones. This unsolved mystery has irked psychologists the world over.

Some of the reasons why we tend to hurt, though unintentionally, the ones we adore include our attitudes that tend to change more often than normal, burst of emotions and bitter comments that are usually made during the heat of the moment.

If you thought stress could only affect you, it a sad misconception. It is responsible for our behaviour towards others too. Some of these include regular outbursts of emotion, arrogant behaviour, tiredness and mental exhaustion. These factors contribute to growing frustration.

The stress factor

Stress seems to be a part and parcel of our daily lives. It creeps in unknowingly and cause, in some cases, irreparable damage. Stress does not only affect working professionals; it also has a hand in affecting teens and retired pensioners. When stress gets the better of us, we tend to vent out. Our family members become our very own ‘punching bags’ as we take out our frustrations on them. We blurt out hurtful words that have a powerful impact. We also recoil and distance ourselves emotionally and physically. This could create a huge communication gap. When personality changes affect familial relationships, it cuts the deepest. Are we justified in hurting our loved ones? Does it benefit us in any way? The answer lies within you and it is something that cannot be ‘fixed’. So, ask yourself – “Why do I hurt my family members so much?” Chances are you might reveal the answers to yourself over a course of time.

The fight within

Sometimes, the fights we have with ourselves internally tend to manifest it outwardly. When we are in a foul mood, we begin to take it out on family members. Our near and dear ones become our ‘punching bags’. We naturally vent out to them. These outbursts could hurt them if it continues for an extended period of time. However, this could backfire as even they have their boiling point. When the dam bursts, it can become an ugly affair.

The trained mind

Human minds are complex. They are aware of what we want to say or do even before we know it ourselves. Therefore, it knows that our family is the easy target when it comes to venting out. We take out our frustrations on them because we know they will forgive and forget after a few hours. However, we do not dare take out our frustrations at work or in a social gathering. Why? Because, we know it will not be tolerated. Forgiveness is hard to come by when it does not involve our close circle. We tend to mask our true feelings when in a professional or social setting. We are afraid of losing people who have no problem letting go of us. Our family tends to forgive our mood swings. In fact, things go back to normal in no time. This leniency allows us to take certain liberties when it comes to family.

Not convinced? Here are some common examples which help you understand these situations better. You might have even faced these situations every once in a while.

Situation 1

The teenage son has a blast when he is out partying or socializing with friends. However, he tends to act moody and throws tantrums when he enters the house. This common phenomenon could irk family members.

Situation 2

The daughter has a hectic social life. She explores new party spots and hangs out at all the coolest eateries. She is even loved by the neighbours and her friends’ parents. However, at home, it is a different story. She maintains distance from her family members, is emotionally disconnected and does not hesitate to snap back when she is not in the mood to be chastised. She is always on her phone and does not bother to discuss her issues.

Situation 3

The man of the house is a different person at work and when he comes home. Once he steps through the door, he is tired and does not want to make small talk. All he wants is a snack and the TV to unwind. He does not communicate with his wife or share his troubles for the day.

Situation 4

The married woman is game for a shopping spree or a party with her friends. She has the time to gossip about the neighbours and other ‘friends’. However, small matters at home seem to annoy her. She snaps at her husband and even become irritable with her kids. She does not like taking responsibility for household chores. The maid also gets to hear a mouthful from her if she happens to make a mistake.

Situation 5

The elderly in the house (grandparents) are also susceptible to bouts of frustration and stress. While they may give advice, they may not like their own children visiting them. They usually complain that they are not cared.

These are just some of the many examples of how different family members react to each other at home. However, the main question which remains is: why do the people we love cause us pain? And, why do we take out our frustrations on them?

If the answer is still not crystal clear, you need to do some introspection. Despite having social lives and being loved by friends, the story at home could paint a different picture. Here are some of the reasons why we tend to be our true selves at home:

The masks come off

When one steps out of the house, a mask comes on. He needs to present a glorified image of himself to the outside world, an image of self- assurance, confidence and respectability. However, when the person comes home, the mask comes off. One does not need to be pretentious. The person can be his or her natural self in the midst of family. This duality can hamper family dynamics. Members of the family wonder why the person is not the same way with them at home. If the person can go out of the way to help other, why can’t they help family members in need? It becomes a matter of obligation. The masks come off at home. There is no need to be someone you’re not.

Here are some reasons why family relationships go sour:

Appreciation is rare

We tend to take the ones we love for granted. Therefore, we do not appreciate them. Our family is expected to accept us no matter what. Once we step out of our homes, we need to be at our best. After all, we are only accepted once we fulfil certain criterion. If you do not fit in with the crowd, you are left out in the cold. Relations outside the home are based on motive and are rarely selfless. At home, we are loved no matter what. We take this for granted, causing our family members pain in the bargain. In this way, we end up hurting the ones who love us the most.

The rise of expectations

Expectations arise because family depends on each other. Therefore, it is assumed that whatever is asked for, it will be fulfilled. We tend to overlook the feelings of the ones that are dear to us. We become irritable at the drop of a hat. We do not want to answer questions or may even say something hurtful when cornered over a matter. Being nonchalant and texting while your parents want to discuss an important issue is disrespectful. We might think we know our family well; but, it is far from the truth. The small, seemingly insignificant matters usually have the worst impact. You might live in the same house but could the distance in the relationship be widening.

The need for gratitude

We all want to be appreciated even if we do not make mention of it. We might shower praise on our friends or colleagues, but we often fail to even appreciate the efforts of our family. Most of us take it as a duty expected of our loved ones. No, appreciation is necessary. A pat on the back or a kind word could improve relationships at home. Do you thank your mom everyday for cooking a delicious meal for you? How often do you thank your dad for providing financial and moral support? Appreciation is rare. We do not pay much attention to the needs of our family; we neglect an important aspect of our life. We should learn to keep to our end of the bargain and appreciate our loved ones. When they feel loved, you will see how the relationship improves.

Caught up

Most of us are caught up with so much that goes around us. We tend to focus our attention on achieving milestones. What could be a bigger milestone than making your family happy? However, our dreams mean more to us than anything else. When we achieve a dream, we tend to go on to something else. We begin to live for tomorrow rather than living in the moment. We lose sight of small, important things that could enrich our lives. Professional and personal goals take precedence over everything else. In fact, priorities change and relationships suffer as a result. The mother is ignored for the girlfriend while friends are given more importance than siblings. This could cause wounds which will fester for years to come. If you are married, you often want professional gain while forgetting about family. Live in the present to truly appreciate all that you have. Nurture the relations you have now and they will bloom into something truly special. What else do you need if you have the support of the people you love? When you balance your goals, you will be at peace with yourself. Do not forfeit your family’s happiness for a few short-term gains. Learn to be the kind of person that does not lose sight of the bigger picture. It will serve you well going forward in life.

Love-all

We do not hesitate to value and preserve the material things that matter the most to us. We even take care of our physicality in order to look good. Why do we never value or nurture the relations that we have already? Spending time (and money) on your family members can be fulfilling. Don’t you think it is time you give your family more attention? Our most prized possessions should be given utmost importance. We might love our family members but we should show it from time to time. Don’t let anything go unsaid. Learn to say what you feel before it’s too late. An ‘I Love You’ or a ‘Thank You’ could make a world of difference. You might even be the reason for lit up faces at home. Extend a helping hand to family members who need it. Spend time over the weekend; go for a movie or a dinner once in a while. When your family least expects it, surprise them with a show of affection.

A little love and appreciation can go a long way to ensure that your family maintains a strong bond.

Building familial bonds

It is not difficult to make our loved ones happy. They deserve the best. All you need to do is a few good but meaningful things to win their hearts. Here are some of the ways you can make a difference in your family.

A caring word

When you come home from work or school, greet your mom and dad or your spouse with a word of greeting. Let warmth radiate from you. Sit down and talk to them about your day. Family bonding time is always a good idea. You can also give your mobile phone a break. Instead, spend more time with your loved ones.

Open communication

Open and honest communication is vital to any relationship. When you say what’s in your heart, there is nothing better. Learn to discuss feelings, ideas, dreams, plans and fears to bridge the communication gap. Find the right time to share these feelings. Make time to bond over a meal. Also, try to manage your cool when discussing sensitive issues.

Acceptance

We should accept our family members for who they are – flaws and all. We should learn to tell them where and when they are going wrong. Learn to accept the negative traits inherent in you, too. When you accept the cons, relationships grow. You can use your extra energy to deal with family problems.

Appreciation

The small things should garner appreciation. When you are grateful for the small things, your family members will feel loved. This will ensure better bonding. Also, the atmosphere at home will lighten up. If your mother cooks a lovely meal, learn to say ‘thank you’. A small chocolate for her could also be a sweet gesture.

Family time

Family time is very important. While work might get too taxing, you should not ignore the people who love you. Plan a dinner or a movie with loved ones to keep the relation strong.

Enough space

While we live together, we also respect each other likes and dislikes and learn to give space to them. Be it children or the spouse or the parent. Too many questions sounds like an interrogation. Let everyone get a chance to fulfil his/her choices, express thoughts and himself/herself.

All ears

We all need someone to hear us out. Likewise, your loved ones need you to listen to them. Therefore, take the time to discuss issues in the house. You may not even have to give advice or solve their problems. All you need to provide is moral support. When you are there for someone emotionally, the relationship will grow stronger.

Surprises!

We all need something to lift our moods. Who doesn’t like a good surprise? So, you should take the time to do something special for your loved ones. Take them on a family trip, give them a gift without reason, or just give a compliment. Sudden surprises will make your family members happy.

Light moments

A family that laughs together, stays together. Creating light moments with the people you love is the best way to spend the day. Some of us are so caught up in our daily lives that we forget the simple things in life. Life in the moment and make it count. Do not worry about what tomorrow will bring.

When you live for the day and share light moments together with your loved ones, things change.

Speak out

In any relationship it is important to speak out and be open about your feelings. You do not need an occasion to tell that special someone that you love them. We should also tell our family members how much they mean to us. A kind word can brighten up their day. It could also put things in perspective. When you are open with your words, there is nothing that can break the relation. You should hold your spouse’s hand if you want to without thinking about what others will say. Give your mom and dad a goodnight kiss because it does make a difference. Do not be afraid of being emotionally exposed. It helps in showing you in a favourable light. When you say what’s in your heart, familial ties will improve automatically. You do not need a special day to show the people you love how much they mean to you. Make each day count. Send them a text or give them a call to express your feelings. The little things go a long way in building strong relations.

Breathe easy

We might have a positive outlook on life. However, there will be days when a negative situation rattles us. Not all relationships are perfect. There will be countless ups and downs that we have to navigate. We should do our best to ensure that we maintain close ties despite the circumstance. Sometimes, when things become too difficult to handle, take a small vacation or do little things that make you happy. This will help you maintain relations better. A little distance could be the glue that brings loved ones together.

Family time

All relationships need time to grow and become better. Therefore, all of us need to spend alone time with different family members. Take mom and dad out for dinner or a movie. Parents should spend time with their children after the day has ended. Partners need to take out time for a date or just a conversation on a regular basis. Open communication and alone time with loved ones will ensure that the relationship blossoms over time. There is that special feeling that comes with alone time. When the spark is there, relationships will be able to weather any storm.

We should never wait for anyone else to take the initiative to make a relation work. If we feel there is something lacking, we should make the first move. Apart from focusing on immediate goals, we should also focus on the special things that matter. We tend to overlook the little things because we are often caught up with the bigger picture. We also need to change our attitude in life. Learn not to take your loved ones for granted. Speak your heart out and be sensitive to others feelings. In short: do not stay in your own bubble. Instead, learn to live with a sight on everything else. When you cultivate a positive attitude, you will notice a seismic shift in family relations. Family matters at the end of the day. Do not let the other minor things come in the way of building strong bonds. With the right approach, anything is possible. Always remember, keep your family first and the other things will fall into place.