Saturday, September 12, 2009


Family relationships are a microcosm of societal interaction. The larger and more extended the family relationships the better the representation of the broader society. Through the years there are conflicts, dramas, crisis and celebrations. Families come together and families are sometimes split to pieces.
At your last family reunion or gathering, was there one person who walked in and changed the whole tone? Good and bad?
The same thing happens in the board room, the social club meeting, the school reunion and in any regular gathering.
When I was teaching, I was humored that each class had the same personality dynamics. There was always an over achiever. There was always a student who tested the teacher. There was always a student with excuses. There was always a student refusing to work within the structure of the system. And these were adults.
These approaches to interacting in groups surely began with family relationships. It's tough to break patterns of behavior that are deeply ingrained. Of course, the good patterns we want to keep. The bad may be very difficult to overcome, especially if they are not recognized as bad.
As I've heard stories from friends about the various gatherings this summer, I've been interested in the ones talking about the relative who was perhaps a step out somehow. The most positive stories were about city relatives coming to the country. The kids began their visit timid and uncertain about getting involved. With encouragement, they were soon kayaking and cooking on an open fire. It took caring encouragement.
The saddest was about a relative who is perpetually stirring drama. Without even being at the family gathering, she was able to interject a degree of controversy. It was based on a battle that has been a recurring theme for many decades in that family.
Where did it begin? And how can it ever end?
I'm learning for myself that the better I work with family issues, the better I work with larger groups. Family issues are the most difficult and there seems to always be one family member that seems simply impossible. That's a challenge. I'm thinking if I can learn a comfortable way of dealing with that one, I can use that skill later in a larger context. I've certainly had more time to practice and may be able to get away with more mistakes on that one.

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