We all know the saying “blood is thicker than water”. As much as I wish this were true, the reality is that we can’t choose our families (but we can choose our friends – see my Friends page). Nevertheless, family is a really important aspect of our development as individuals. Although I am very thankful for my upbringing, I’ll be the first to admit that the family dynamic is a very complicated ecosystem.
Personally, I have discovered a fair share of role models in my family – both positive and negative. I am a first-generation American whose parents were both born in Cuba, and there is no possible way to measure the amount that they sacrificed to get here. The fact that they became educated in the American system and have paved their way towards a fruitful and successful life is something that I am very proud of. Still, other unnamed members of my extended family have demonstrated for me the results of irresponsible decision-making, which drastically contradict the values held by my own parents. I guess my point is that raising a child does take a village, just not necessarily a perfect one. But, what’s the limit to a person’s exposure to negative familial influences? When is it okay to cease contact with a toxic family member?
Whether or not you were raised by your parents or another adult figure, most of us want to make our families proud. But, as I have often found, it can be difficult to develop a personal identity that doesn’t wholly rest on the approval of the family. From bright-eyed childhood, to the rebellious teenage years and the confusing transition to adulthood, our parents and families have been instrumental in our development. So how do we conquer the world on our own without feeling like every decision jeopardizes our families’ honor?
Through trial and error I have found that maintaining positive and healthy family relationships requires a little bit of give and take. I don’t have to be – and certainly don’t want to be – mini replicas of my parents, but making them feel valued is still important to me. I think a question that plagues a lot of young adults is this: how much do we really owe our parents and families?
On this page, I hope to offer insight into answers for the questions posed above, and more. We all have a different story of origin – some triumphant and others tragic, but at the end of the day we all need to learn how to live on the same earth with the people that brought us here in the first place.