Due to the lack of photos of the entire family together, and the discomfort exhibited by my parents when taking photos, there will be limited photos of the whole family, but many photos with different parts of the family together. This is my family, this is our crazy.
“Connected. Family members experienceemotional independence as well as somesense of involvement and belonging”(Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004).Our family is involved with one another(we all live next to each other) but wealso enjoy some emotionalindependence. We can rely on each otherin times of crisis, but we don’t alwayshave to be near each other.Regardless, we all feel a sense ofbelonging within the family-of-originstructure.
In my family, our relationships are always up and down. My sister karissaand I certainly move through phases of strong cohesion, and phaseswhere we can’t stand to be around one another for any length of time.Overall, we are both learning how to have a “normal” adult relationshipand leave adolescence and the childhood years behind.
“Sibling ties represent the longest lifetime relationships for most people…” (Brommel, Bylund, andGalvin 2004).I think that my sister and I learned a lot from our parents about what it means to be a sibling. Ourdad has an awkward relationship with his brother that is still living, our mom has a good relationshipwith one aunt, wont speak to or speak of another aunt, and has an awkward relationship with hermentally handicapped sister. In seeing this relationships play-out over the course of our lives, wehave determined that we don’t want to grow that far apart where a normal relationship is impossibleand the most we can muster is an awkward encounter. As a result, we have a yearly ritual where wego to Salem, MA together the weekend before Halloween.
“…female sibling use relationalmaintenance behaviors at a higherrate than males…”(Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004).I completely agree with this finding!I see my sister and I using a lot ofthe strategies, especially humor andconfirmation and validation. Welearned from our dad thatsometimes, humor can lighten anysituation, and other times, it’s justfun to laugh. Together, if in themood, we can both be foundlaughing at something someone elsemight find strange. We alsoconfirm/validate theother, especially if we need to ventabout work and school (both of ourlives are pretty identical as far aswork and school environments go).The one venting will be validated bythe other with reassurances that itwill get better, and that her problemis certainly nothing to be scoffed at.
“As parent and child relationships move from being highly veritcle to much morehorizontal, responsibility for relational maintenance becomes shared”(Brommel, Bylund, Galvin 2004).As I got older, my parents always supported me, with whatever I chose to pursue. They havealways counted my sister and I as huge sources of pride, and as a result, we have alwaysstrived to be the people they see us as. It is awkward to have some conversations witheither parent, but I have seen that my sister and I can rely on them (their relationalcurrency in many ways is and likely will always be, caring for their children (including muchmore adult children)). They support us, and we both work to keep an open communicativerelationship.
“Roles are inextricably bound to the communication process” (Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004). “Family roles and communication are strongly interrelated because each contributes to the maintenance or change of the other”
For much of my life, the role of my mom has been constantly changing!She was a stay at home mom until my sister and I were old enough totake care of ourselves. Now she works and uses the money she earns forthings she would like to do. She cares for the family as a traditionalhousewife, making dinner, cleaning the house, and doing thelaundry, but she also has her own job and her own independence., shedoes not depend solely on my dad financially. My mom is also the onethat provides the MOST nurturing and emotional support.
My sister and I both look to our dad foremotional support, but less than ourmom. Our dad does provide the basicresources, as the “bread-winner” in thefamily. He is also the one that has themost authority over large purchasingdecisions. Both parents will discuss thepurchase, but ultimately, what my dadwants is what he gets.
“Other times people misunderstand the privacy agreement or forget that the information should bekept private” (Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004).This is something that my mom (center) has trouble negotiating. In adolescance both my sister and Iwanted to disclose information about our lives to her, just to have her telling our dad. Her rule was,he is your dad and deserves to know everything, and my husband, I will not lie to him. This made mysister and I (and still does a lot of the time) uncomfortable openly sharing more private informationwith her simply because we would rather our dad not know about it.
“One important maintenance function involves maintaining kinship ties with the extendedfamily network” (Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004).My older sister Bev (back right) and her three youngest daughters (front left) are rarely atour house. Bev’s husband likes to keep him and his family to himself, so my dad and momboth strive to keep up kinship maintenance with Bev so that she and her youngest childrenwill know us. My sister and I both work to maintain a relationship with the girls, so theymight remember us from visit to visit and not feel so shy at first. So far, this plan hasworked well. They are terrified of dogs, especially big ones, but here they are pictured withmy 74lb boxer, Levi, because they trusted us that nothing would happen.
Another important reason for my sisterand I to maintain kinship ties with one ofour nieces who has been subject tocyber-bullying and an unfortunatelyunpleasant high school experience.“Cyberbullying victims were almost twiceas likely to have attempted or consideredsuicide compared to youth who had notexperienced cyberbullying”(Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004). Wehope that due to our relatively closeages, we can be there for her, and shewill be able to recognize that she is farfrom alone, despite how it she might feelat times.
“They need to be able to engage indifficult consations on current concerns”(Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004).In this case, my family has had to havethe difficult conversations about myaunt’s health. She was recentlydiagnosed with cancer. Fortunately it isthe survivable type, but regardless, as afamily we have had to discuss how wecan help her get to her appointments andpossible outcomes of her treatment.
“In any crisis stage, members go through a process of managing the loss, grief, or chaos”(Brommel, Bylund, and Galvin 2004).In our lives, my sister and I grew up with one grandparent. We lost her when we were bothyoung. Then, as adolescence began to hit me, and my sister not being far behind, we lostour aunt and uncle within months of each other. We were devastated. Our Mom and Dad hadto help navigate us through the stages of grief, while dealing with the loss themselves.Today, we remember our lost family members with stories of the past, a celebration of thememories we were able to make. My sister and I both like to believe that our Gram wouldbe proud of us if she were here today.