Family Closeness ~ Are you for or against?

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When I was about 14 years old, I invited a boy over for lunch at our family’s house. He wasn’t my boyfriend or anything. He was just a friend who lived about 2 blocks from my house and just enjoyed hanging out with my family. Why?

“I love sitting around a table with the whole family,” he would say.

Source: Babycenter.com

Source: Babycenter.com

At the time, I never actually felt it as anything, but as I grew up, I started to realize that there were a lot of families or friends of mine who didn’t have meals with their families on a regular basis. In fact, right after high school, most of the kids moved out into dorms or just left home to “grow up.”

It is a really awesome thing to see an individual who is independent, very strong, sure of themselves, and perhaps even incredibly successful. Someone who knows how to fend for themselves and help themselves in the worst and best situations is definitely very inspiring to look up to.  These are all positive aspects, but are there any possible negative aspects?

I have seen many of my friends who have grown up in households, where the family closeness just isn’t there.  How did they end up?  Of course everyone is different and I can’t say they all grew up the same, but I definitely see a major difference.  Those who weren’t very close to their families, always complained about being lonely, not understanding why they can’t be in a good relationship, haven’t seen their moms or dads in years, don’t care too much about their sister or even know much about her at all, or just doesn’t understand what the fuss about family truly is.

Family, to me, is my life.  I feel stressed every time I visit my parents, but I absolutely love them like I love both my legs. I know I would do anything for them and feel like there is always a part of me that feels as if I am always safe or secure, because I know that no matter how hard I fall, they will always be there for me. I may not like half the lectures or things they say to me, but if something truly horrible was to happen to me, they will be there to do everything in their power to make it all better.

During our teenage years, we lived in a gang-infested city. My brother had a bad group of friends and got mixed up with drugs and ended up having to do 13 years of his life in prison.  He has 2 years left and since he’s been in there, my parents have spent every single weekend visiting him. They missed only 1 weekend, which was the weekend I got married.  He had been transferred to 4 different prisons and 2 of them were 3 hours of a drive away.  Still, my parents did everything they could to make sure they visited him.

Prison visits are just horrible. The guards are horrible to you and the whole process that takes place before you actually get to see an inmate is just incredibly unpleasant. Still … my parents always visited. I try to go at least every other weekend, because I am very close to my brother. Did any of the other friends he hung out with ever visit him? Nope! Not a single one.

About 12 years ago, I was married to a man who had a normal life, never hurt anyone, and always had such an independent life. He wasn’t very close to his parents or brother at all. Then one day, he became an accessory to a crime that he had no idea was ever happening and ended up in prison. He did 6 years. None of his family, including his parents, visited him, but me.  It was very sad. It was the worst time of his life and when something that horrible happens, the support of your family can be very helpful in so many different ways.

I love seeing parents who pay a lot of attention to their kids and the ways they feel their kids can best grow and develop.  I love when I see happy children who absolutely love and adore their parents, their siblings, and their family.

When I hear about parents like Mayim Bialik, from The Big Bang Theory, being bashed for her parenting styles, I just think … shame on them who judge. It is wonderful to see moms like her who practice attachment parenting and isn’t afraid to talk about it publicly, because it does promote family closeness and togetherness. Sure it may be different and shocking to some, but I feel that as parents, we all deserve a little bit of respect for trying to promote goodness in our children.

There are thousands of books about parenting this and parenting that. The truth is, we all know that there are no true books and guides to actual parenting. There are no books that can tell us what the next day will bring. We all have to live it and do what we feel in our hearts is best. After all, there is a reason mothers have their own rare and unique “instincts.”