Families are where you learn to be a man; families are where you show you are a man. Your family of origin is where you find your first role models, and where you first form your personality. Much of what you have been looking at over the last few weeks has been about dealing with the issues raised during this learning phase. You learn to be a man by following what you see.
This creates the basis for how you are with the family you create. In many ways you act out what you learnt many years previously. You think you avoid the mistakes your parents made but frequently you compound them. You like to think you bring up your sons to be men, men in the way you weren’t. Often you visit your own uncertainties on your sons, your own lack of grounding as a man.
Even if you don’t have children you still influence those around you, even distant family.
You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.Desmond Tutu
I learnt anger from my father and passed it to my sons.
Who knows where this anger started, how many generations back. In many ways I see my role as breaking the chain, but whether I have learnt this early enough is an important question. I now understand how it works, but only after my sons have grown up, is it too late or have I made my contribution to how they are already?
I know I created my own life of dominance and control within my family. It was my own little kingdom where I ruled! I found that this never worked, all that was created was resentment and suppression; not a good idea.
When I came to value my family as human beings I was able to develop a true relationship with them. The extent to which I do is in my hands but at least I know I have created the space to do this within. Being a father to my sons gives me no rights but many responsibilities. When I take these seriously I can know them at last.
- How are you with your parents, siblings and your wider family of origin? From the perspective of how they influenced you, how do you influence back?
- What type of position do you take in your wider family? How are you seen in terms of dominance, compassion and love?
- If you have children, how do you behave with them? Do you help them to be the best they can? Do you help them to expand their emotional resources?
- Do you see family as a microcosm of the world? How could you shift your behaviour in this world? Do you think you need to?