Kidz on the Coast (Dec/Jan 2015)

When I interview couples for their weddings, and I ask about the importance of their family, this phrase is almost word for word repeated countless times, “my family is my world”.

I think this is even more true than we know….even for people who don’t have a great relationship with their extended family and may not be close or have them ‘in their world’.

Families not only prepare you for the world and life, I believe the amount of diversity, conflict, complexity, triumph, challenge and richness of interactions you experience and learn from in the microcosm of your family circle, is exactly what you will find on the macro-scale out in ‘the real world’.  It is inescapable.

Whatever the quality of relationships you experience in your family of origin, there will be an unnerving degree of pattern repetition and replay happening in your adult life and adult relationships.

If you can create, sustain and enjoy acceptance, harmony and diversity in the arena of your family life, then that is the energy and expectation you bring to meet the outer world.  If you run from your family conflicts, experience non-acceptance or exclusion, these will be painfully repeated experiences in the outer world. What we learn is what we live.

Look at our world right now!  How is peace on earth possible?  Bring peace, diplomacy, compassion, forgiveness and love to your family and community interactions and I believe the world will have the best chance to change.  Master your family dynamic let’s get the  grass roots of change underway in our own microcosm, and we will all be playing out part to affect the macrocosm, helping to combat wars, racial intolerance, bigotry and discrimination a global scale.

I find it amazing how in one family, there can be such difference and diversity. There is nothing like your family to bring out the most intense emotions, responses and reactions.  Families really do bring out the best and worst in us.  They are the best relationship skills training ground ever.

I was reminded of this lately as I worked with two families through a funeral process. There is nothing like a funeral to bring a family into the raw and unfiltered presence of their relationships and history.  All the characters, personalities, allegiances and rifts are fully exposed and there is nowhere to hide.  All the love is there too.  It is a truly fascinating and wonderful insight into our human social, cultural and familial relationships on the most intimate scale.

One family of four siblings burying their brother were representative of the full spectrum of beliefs, from militant atheist, to agnostic, to deeply religious, to universal spirituality. Similarly, a family of four sisters burying their dear dad, all had a unique perspective on his life and all were wildly divergent in their needs for ceremony and ritual.

To bring out the best in each family required love, gentleness, tact, respect and great listening.  And a good amount of humility and humour.  Really hearing each member and not trying to change them, but simply offer respect and appreciate them. It was delicate, United Nations ‘style diplomacy in a suburban lounge room!

With this approach, each family managed to arrive aligned and in agreement on the love and compassion they had for their beloved. It was from this common place of love that a path could be travelled to respect and include everyone’s unique perspective and maintain a united approach to honouring their lives.  Not only is this approach more than possible for all families to achieve, in my view, this is essential for our humanity moving forward.  We need to focus on and remember our greater connection and unity through love.

As we move into the season of holidays and celebrations, we may find ourselves spending more time not just with our own families, but our extended, joined and blended families.  We will be immersed in an amplified melting pot of difference, diversity, contrast and perhaps even conflict.  As we hear the Xmas carols and the prayers for a Happy New Year….for peace on earth….my plea for you is to play your part, and strive for peace in your family.  Remember your common unity and deeper connections.  Bring love, gentleness, tact, respect and great listening, and a good amount of humility and humour.

Happy holidays. Happy families. Much Love and Peace. Sarah

Much love. Sarah