You & me

The Mercury - - GOODLIFE - A for­mer Dur­ban­ite, Smith is a fam­ily ther­a­pist in the US. You can e-mail him at Fam­i­lyTher­a­

EMO­TIONAL health ben­e­fits can come when adults in­ten­tion­ally de­velop deeper, ap­pro­pri­ate con­nec­tions with “fam­ily of ori­gin”.

The in­ten­tional act of get­ting to know par­ents (where pos­si­ble) and sib­lings bet­ter can re­align an en­tire fam­ily.

The thought of such an ad­ven­ture may be scary.

Ex­cept in rare, ex­treme cr­cum­stances* – I be­lieve this is re­ally worth do­ing:

The peo­ple who have known you the long­est and with whom you share a some­what com­mon his­tory re­quire no in­tro­duc­tion. The “work” can be­gin right away with your first sug­ges­tion that you get to know each other bet­ter.

Time, distance, and life’s daily chal­lengers can dis­tort and trans­form mem­o­ries. When the mem­o­ries are chal­lenged, if there is open­ness to it, lives can be trans­formed. A sib­ling’s ex­pe­ri­ence on a com­mon event can lead to greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion and ac­cep­tance of why and how things were the way they were.

While the de­lib­er­ate search for deeper con­nec­tion may not ne­ces­si­tate con­flict, it cer­tainly might. Such healthy con­flict is bet­ter faced than de­nied if deeper con­nec­tions are to be formed.

Get­ting to know your fam­ily bet­ter need not be an in­tense or try­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. A few shared meals and the de­sire to tell a lot of sto­ries is all that is re­quired.

*Where phys­i­cal vi­o­lence or sex­ual vi­o­la­tions have oc­curred

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