Life is relational. It is impossible to exist apart from relationships and close ones involve people we see, talk to and hear daily. We work with and depend on these people. The relationship we have with them can be very good, very bad or somewhere in between. These close connections change us and enable us to influence change in others. Every person will move through many different relationships during the course of their life and each relationship will leave its mark but none will be as important as the bond we have with family, for many reasons.
The strongest influence on any person’s life, for good or bad, comes from the family. It is the first, it is the longest and it is, therefore, the most influential relationship anyone will have. Our first opinions were not arrived at through independent thought. They were imposed on us by the influence of this relationship. We accepted these initial ideas as gospel and assumed it was the common understanding.
“Relationship” for every person is immediate and automatic. There is no lag time between the conception of a child and the point at which they begin to live in relationship. Even a fetus shares the moods of the mother. They experience the movements of the mother. They obviously share the same space. They sense when mother is conversing with others and probably sense the emotional content of the conversation. They begin to relate to another human without even trying.
Once the child is born the process does not slow down. It leaps into high gear and the person in this situation who is least able to contribute to the relationship is the child.
Children do not choose to be born and they don’t choose the parents to which they are born but they will intentionally choose many other relationships outside the family. Developing the discernment to know which relationships to pursue and which to avoid happens in the home. When family connections are strong and healthy kids learn by experience what a good relationship looks like and feels like. They know what to give and what to expect. Parent-child relationships managed in the right way provide a type of filter through which every other potential relationship can be assessed before it is engaged.
“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path”
― Agatha Christie