Mama, Why Can’t Our Family be Normal?

“Create blog entry for Just Families NC” was on my to-do list for a while. It was right after “sign-up for a writing class,” nestled among a bunch of other less interesting tasks. Despite my good intentions, writing kept slipping farther and farther down my ever expanding list. “Create a blog entry” is an abstract task, and it wasn’t until my 12 year-old daughter gave me the inspiration I needed that I was able to begin writing.

Our whole family was driving to a holiday gathering when my youngest child, age 12, blurted out a statement that I credit as inspiration for this blog entry. I should mention that my children, all girls, are 24, 21, 20, and 12 years old. We aren’t a young family anymore; the older girls are on their own or in school and one has a child of her own.

There we were, the 7 of us, strapped in the family mini-van TOGETHER. As our journey progressed and we all settled in, people began talking and sharing. New details about each other’s lives and about our family emerged. Some details hadn’t been disclosed, and some had not been discussed with our entire family until that car ride. Nonetheless, everyone took the revelations in stride and we seemed to enjoy being together. Then, perhaps feeling dismayed and a little overwhelmed by all the chatter and new information, my youngest daughter shook her head, rolled her eyes and said, “Why can’t our family be NORMAL?”

“Of course we are normal. What makes you think we aren’t?” was my first reaction. Then I thought, “What does she think a normal family looks and acts like?” My daughter, like many people, likely has a fantasy of what a normal family looks like. They base their ideals on fictitious “perfect” families depicted in movies, on TV, in magazines and books.  Those families aren’t normal. All “normal” families have flaws. Along with experiencing joy, pleasure, and contentment, normal families struggle, make mistakes, have unmet expectations, and experience pain and disappointment. No family is ever spared some hardship. What makes families great is how they react and respond in the good times, and when they experience bumps in the road of family life. Do they come together and rally? Do they fall apart? Do they reach out? Do they run away or avoid problems when they arise?

The work of family life is to strive to nurture healthy connections while growing as individuals and encouraging others to grow. This can be difficult. Sometimes parents and other adults don’t have the resources or information needed. Sometimes there are conflicting demands. Parenting education and support is available to help guide and support parents throughout the years. Parenting doesn’t end when a child turns 18 and people don’t cease to grow when they turn 25, 40, or even 50 years old.  Having someone who is a good listener, who is knowledgeable about human development and the dynamic nature of family life can be helpful in achieving family goals, as well as getting through tough times. I’m here to help YOU, today, tomorrow and down the road.

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