When something happens to one member of the family, it can affect all members of the family. We all have experienced challenges in our family of origin. I view family as a system that is ever-changing, because of the life transitions that each member goes through. This might reflect children entering their teenage years and parents feeling at a loss on how to “reach” them. As parents, you can also struggle on how to balance caring for the kids, while trying to make time to emotionally connect in your marriage.
Then there are transitions involving the children going off to college, and as parents, you can begin to experience the empty-nest syndrome. So much of your time was previously consumed by the lives of your children, that it’s hard to figure out what to do in their absence. “How will I spend my days? What will give me purpose? How do I now begin to connect with my partner, when we no longer have the kids in the home to bond us?” This transition can evoke fear and even an identity crisis. Especially as the kids in college are exploring who they are outside of how they are were raised. They start questioning previously held beliefs and values, all for the benefit of learning who they are and trying to find their place in this world.
To the college kids, you enter a space where it’s enlightening for you. You find yourself an adult all of sudden, and you like this new freedom to explore and to choose what you want out of life. Only, you start to notice that what you’re learning about yourself and relationships, causes you to conflict with your parents. You’ve never explored the importance of healthy boundaries before, but now it seems like it might be needed. After all, there’s a difference between “putting up a wall”, and setting boundaries that are healthy for you in your relationship with other family members. I can help you identify, set, and maintain these boundaries without guilt.
Fast forward some years after, and the family continues to transition with new marriages and the birth of little ones. Joining families can be hard. It can also be hard trying to decide what values to bring from your family of origin into the new family that you’re growing with your partner, and what you would like to leave behind. How do you set boundaries with in-laws? How do you deal with past traumas that show up, especially at the face of raising healthy kids? You want the best for your kids, but you also mourn the childhood you never had. How do you deal with active addiction issues in the family or intergenerational traumas?
One thing that is constant is that a family system is always changing. In the midst of those changes, it’s important that there are clear healthy boundaries that allows each member of the family to speak for themselves, to be listened to by other members, to feel valued, equally respected, to be able to ask and answer questions. It’s also important for every member of the family to challenge abuses and narratives that cause harm to the family system. And this reflects the work that I do with families, using both a Family System and Emotionally-Focused approach. I look forward to learning about you and your family, and helping you to navigate challenges and resolve conflicts. Reach out below.