Rules of Families that Nurture vs. Rules that Shame
Family is a beautiful design. All it takes is getting pregnant and putting babies into this world. Or is it?
Wherever you read this blog from, you have your unique story about your family of origin. You have your unique background, unique experiences.
They may be beautiful and happy. They may be traumatizing and horrible. Or something in between.
Fact is, family can bless and nurture a child. Or Family can shame a child and leave it as an orphan, even with having a family.
Some years ago I attended a class about that subject and found it very helpful to understand that there are things that are “healthy” for a family and things that are “unhealthy”, independent from our culture and religious/social beliefs.
It helped me identify where my family of origin didn’t do a good job. After all, it is sometimes difficult to understand that things you experienced as “normal family-life” in your childhood can actually be harmful to your children!
Did you know that your parents’ ways of dealing with life left a remaining impression in your soul? It is important to understand that every parent – the ones we had and the ones we are right now or in the future-are “God on earth” for the child. Parents can greatly influence, how the child sees him/herself and life in general.
There are “family -rules” that bless and nurture children. And there are the “family-rules” that cause shame in a child.
Rules of Families that Nurture Vs. Rules that Shame
Outloud affirming – Telling each other “you are special”, “you are capable”, “I love you”, “We love having you in this family”.
People Oriented – We all need an environment where we feel our needs are met because of who we are and not because of what we do. Its essential to still love, when mistakes are made.
Clear Rules and Expectations – Sitting down and discussing the rules which are in place and what rules might suit better. Having an openness to talk about them.
Communication is clear and straight – Children are great observers, but terrible interpreters. (Alfred Adler) – as an example, they can observe you being unhappy. However, a child easily interprets this as himself/herself being the cause. As a solution we can communicate and tell the child: “Mommy is unhappy due to things that didn’t go as planned. But I love you, you are awesome”.
God is the Source – Others can think what they want (and will) but, they won’t decide the truth about us. God does.
Children are enjoyed. Expectations are according to the age of a child.
Responsibility and accountability – Children learn to take responsibility for their own actions.
Feelings are valid and useful. – All feelings are OK.
It is OK for our outside to match our inside. Parents help the child to handle the feelings of daily life.
Intimacy is Normal – The family members know each other well. Acceptance and love are displayed; transparency and vulnerability are part of normal family life.
Outloud shaming – Telling each other “something is wrong with you”, “you are stupid”, “you will never learn”, “you are a failure”
Performance Oriented – Having to earn love and acceptance.
Unspoken Rules – These are only truly discovered when you break them.
Communication through Codes – Communication without words is very real but can be hurtful. Facial expressions, eye-rolling, voice tone, silence, change of subject are often not a good way of communicating. “A child feels that daddy is upset because of his silence and rolling of the eyes when he/she says something. But he will never say a word.”
People– Pleaser Children are taught to turn to things and people instead of God’s acceptance. Therefore, things and people become the measure of value and identity.
Children are a burden – Children learn to act like adults in order to avoid shame.
Problem solving by blaming – Adult are shaming the child in order to stop undesirable behaviour. This teaches them strong skills of defending themselves, rather than learning how to solve a problem.
Feelings are wrong and selfish – Those children can’t identify their feeling: they believe that their feelings are wrong and selfish.
Intimacy is scary – The unspoken message is: don’t trust, wear a mask. Relationships in such a family are unreliable, so intimacy is feared – and the feeling of isolation and abandonment is very real.
As I said, this list helped me identify what went wrong in my family of origin – and how I can do it better. Of course, raising kids is not just a matter of “doing” things right! Nevertheless, now I knew better in what direction I had to mature and grow.
- Me and able to communicate? No way! I would retreat into silence and put a blank facial expression.
- Me knowing that my feelings are valid and useful? No way I couldn’t be angry and tell that I don’t agree! I was rather just crying, not able to tell why.
Today I “enjoy” getting angry on my husband from time to time and telling him where I don’t agree. Luckily I have a husband able to deal with it with a smile.Today I am able to communicate in a good way what I am feeling and why.
Therefore, I have been able to grow in my personal life by identifying the patterns, attitudes and habits that hurt any relationship – and in a much deeper way our relationship with our spouse and children.
I knew now where to start, and even though it was a process of healing and learning, the first step was to identify and to understand. And this is the aim of this article. Can you identify and understand weaknesses using the list above? Have fun.