Jasek: Let’s Discuss Family Dynamics

Senior Elizabeth Jasek discusses the role that family dynamics plays in individual's lives. - Photo via Pixabay.com

Let’s discuss a taboo topic – family dynamics and relationships. All families experience their own form of turmoil and drama. The severity of those issues differs for each family depending on their dynamics and relationships.

What is a family dynamic? In simple terms, it is the structure and interactions within a family. These dynamics are very influential in how we see ourselves, as well as others. They also influence our behavior, relationships and our well-being. 

I personally relate to an abnormal family dynamic due to a feud between my dad and his brother. I lost touch with that side of my family for quite some time– about seven years. I never fully understood their dynamic until I was older and more mature.  

Recently, however, my aunt and cousin reached out to see if we could grab dinner since they would be traveling to the area for a sports tournament. I was a little hesitant in saying yes at first, seeing as I certainly did not want my parents to think I was “going against” them or adding more fuel to the fire. 

However, I felt as though I did not need their permission to see my other family members. I felt old enough to make that decision on my own. This sort of decision – which can feel like choosing sides – can be complicated and stressful, but I think it’s one that a lot of individuals face within their families. 

I discussed the plans with my sister, then my dad and they both agreed that it could potentially be a good idea. There was no negativity about it which made me optimistic that it would be a pleasant dinner and time for reconnection. 

As expected, the dinner went well, and they loved La Scalas. The conversations were never dull or awkward.

 I was, of course, faced with the concern that the conversation would be boring since so much time had passed since we had last spoken. And my other concern was that the only topic that would potentially be discussed would be the past issues between our families. Neither ended up being brought up, however, which further solidified that I had made the right decision by choosing to go. 

Meeting for dinner was a civil reunion and, quite frankly, it gave me hope to rebuild the relationship that we once had. 

My aunt invited me to visit them down south, and I think I plan to make the trip now knowing that my parents support the decisions I make with my family. Not to mention, I believe that rebuilding the relationship with that side of the family will continue to improve our family dynamic and relationships with one another moving forward.

In order to have a positive impact on the family dynamic that surrounds you, there are some potentially healthy habits to consider– based on my experiences, at least. 

The first habit to consider is that family members should try to have more open communication. This could help with misunderstandings and miscommunication, and it encourages everyone involved to discuss potential issues and avoid having them build into resentment or hostility.  

A second habit is to actively try to make time for one another, both individually and as a whole. Sometimes, parents get caught up in their work-life while their kids are consumed by schoolwork, so spending quality time together has the potential to strengthen relationships and improve the dynamic overall. 

And last but not least, consider boundaries. Boundaries vary for each family but learning and maintaining boundaries may allow family members to respect each other more and understand one another on a deeper, more beneficial level. Boundaries also show what behaviors are acceptable or not and appreciated or not. One key to maintaining boundaries is to be firm but still kind and communicative. 

Overall, our family dynamics often shape who we are as individuals. No family is ever the same, thus they can’t all be treated the same, but understanding the past and current dynamics of the family is essential in providing personal growth, healthy habits and a sustainable transformation for the better.

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