MHAW16 (Day 3): The Importance of Family

A relationship with your family is often the first and most enduring type of relationships we have. Family isn’t just the people who live together in the same house for a significant amount of our lives, but the people who are connected together by a strong bond and share experiences; creating good memories (marriages, births) and surviving through the bad (family feuds, deaths etc.).
Some of us are lucky to have big families with many aunties, uncles, cousins etc. and some of us don’t, but I think what is most important is the bond that families have. Families should be an vital source of emotional support, love, security and protection. No matter how many people are involved in the family unit, a healthy family should make us feel like we belong and motivate us to become better people- even when everything else is going wrong in our personal lives. Family should also be an example of how we would like are future relationships to be like – we can always learn from our families by not repeating the same mistakes or continuing family values or traditions.
Feeling supported and valued within your family unit should also help you to become strong, independent and self-reliant. I personally haven’t experienced a major event in my life that has or could cause controversy within the family unit, but I know of people who have (i.e., coming out to family, differing religious views, family members not liking your other half etc.). Nevertheless, family should encourage you to be open and support and accept your interests, life-choices and you as a person, even if they don’t always agree with it. They should be there for you, allow you to venture out and make your own mistakes (sometimes, not always) and welcome you with open arms if or when everything goes wrong.
Unfortunately, many people don’t have the “perfect” family and some families can actually be toxic. Some family members may not accept you for who you are and can try to control or manipulate how you act, think and feel. In an environment like that it can be really difficult to learn about yourself and know who you really are. It saddens me that some people I have been/are suffering at the hands of their own family members and have been abused (physically or emotionally), abandoned or neglected by the people who should have been protecting them. Just like with any relationship, you should be in control with who you have in your life- whether it’s family or friends and feel confident to cut ties when you can. I agree that you can’t pick who’s born into your family, but I think you can choose who you want as your ‘family’, because it’s more than just a word- it’s a long-lasting bond shared amongst a select community of people.
So I think it’s important that family (whether it’s blood relatives or a family-unit you have with your friends) should continually be strengthened. Me and my family don’t always see each other as much as I’d like as we live separate lives in separate cities/countries but I love that social media helps us to stay connected. Like friendships, investing time and energy into family can be really beneficial for us and for those who we care about, so it’s important that we not take those people in our lives for granted because you never realise how important they are until they’re gone.
This one is for you Grandma, RIP

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