The definition of family is different for everybody. Maybe your family is your single mom and sister. Maybe your family is just your brother. Maybe your family is existent, but not present. Whatever your definition may be, we all have our own individual lens when it comes to family. There is no picture perfect family. However, it’s easy to compare families and derive their values from number of siblings, existence of both parents and most importantly, relationships between the members. For some, these relationships are tight-knit and intimate enough to comfortably converse about the more personal details of each other's lives. However, for others, these relationships carry deeply rooted bonds, but don’t play active roles in their daily lives. If you can resonate with this, here are a couple reasons why that might be.
1. During your childhood, your parents weren’t always around.
When you grow up with parents that are constantly away and/or work full-time, the distance between you and them only grows. It’s much more difficult to begin opening up to your parents later down the road when it was never something you did growing up. Since your parents weren’t always present, you always turned to other friends, relatives, or stress-relievers. Because of this, your parents never became the ones you felt comfortable sharing difficulties or triumphs with. Thus, the tightest relationships you have are with the ones you shared your life with in those moments, not your parents.
2. The age gap between you and your sibling(s) is too big.
Whether you’re the younger or older sibling, it’s hard to connect with your sibling who seems to live on a foreign planet. A couple years can make a staggering difference, and you just can’t seem to relate or lack the desire/understanding to hear about their life struggles. This gap you have means that you and your sibling(s) could be in completely different stages of your lives, creating further distance. In this case, it has always been easier for you to resort to friends closer to your age because your issues and conversations are more relevant to their lives.
3. Your parents don’t have a good relationship.
When you’re growing up, you tend to learn from your parents. You observe whether or not your parents have solid relationships with each other. This can immensely affect the way you approach them. You begin to distance yourself from them because you don’t want to get involved in their problems. This discourages you from talking to them about your problems, considering they have enough of their own. When your parents constantly fight, the desire to get closer to them tanks because you end up despising one of them, or both. This often is the biggest reason why people think their families suck because dealing with family issues while struggling with your own can be an arduous task.
4. Your parents are stuck in their generation.
Every culture has different customs, beliefs, and values. And, when your parents grew up in a different country, it’s not easy for them to change. The biggest barrier to talking to your parents about millennial struggles is that they simply can’t relate. While they too were once young adults, things have changed since then. Though the struggles your parents went through may have been similar, the advice they offer you just isn’t relevant or helpful to you as it once was for them. This creates a lot of frustration because while you could try to improve your relationships with your parents, you just know that they aren’t going to change their mindsets. So, you sit there having to deal with problems on your own because it’s not worth it.
5. You’re not the favored child.
I think we all know who the favored child in the family is--it’s pretty obvious sometimes. If you happen to be the favored child, you may not have thought about it from the other sibling's perspective. If you’re the one who feels a little less favored, it’s typically because you think that all you do is make bad decisions, start arguments, disappoint your parents, and fail to be the perfect angel your parents wish you were. If your parents clearly favor the other sibling, it’ll make you feel resentment towards them and the sibling even if they never personally did anything to you. This also discourages you because it feels like you're never enough. Their constant criticism and comparison creates tension and further divides you from them.
Whether you resonate with all, some, or none of these key points, just remember that if you don’t really talk to your family, it’s OK. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad family. It just depends on your circumstances and all the different factors that have played into your life. You don’t get to pick your family, but you’ve got to love them regardless of what has gone down in the past because at the end of the day, they will be the ones who will do anything for you even if it doesn’t seem like it. We are all going through different stages of our lives, and it’s important to remember that as long as you’re living a happy, fulfilling life, your family will continue to be your strongest support system.