Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Relationships Have to Be Nurtured

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Relationships Have to Be Nurtured

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Howat

You can pick your friends, but not your family. Starting off with immediate family members - parents, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Then if you're married, remarried or in a lasting relationship, you have in-laws on many different levels. Often, we're talking about high numbers.

So what's the big deal, you say? Let me try to tell you.

Granted, some of your family or extended family members may seem like losers. They may be irresponsible, poor role models, or worse, but guess what? They're yours. Starting with the closest family ties of parents and children, there exist unique dynamics.

Religious teachings, great works of literature and mythology provide a wealth of references to family relationships that range from love and joy to pain and hatred. What's most important to me as a therapist is that families are powerful.

Let's face it. When discussing this topic, things become quite personal. Most of us have family ties. I don't think it's an accident that family members have strong feelings about each other. We're born into the world with mothers and fathers, live through our middle years with similar kinfolk, and leave the world with remaining family members - sometimes progeny.

Murray Bowen, a famous therapist at Georgetown University, discussed in detail the painful results of what he referred to as family "cut-offs". This occurs when family members attempt to eliminate contact with each other, physically and/or emotionally. His message was that they don't work. Just as parents with children can never completely divorce, other family relationships need to be resolved in order for us to move on.

Here's what is most important about this topic. If we have the opportunity, as most of us do, we may strive to nurture and strengthen our existing relationships with family members. …

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