Different, But Still Family

Posted: January 28, 2010 in family
Tags: , , ,

One of the most obvious things about the people in your family is that some of them are quite different from you. 

Take the issue of how we process time. We process it differently. Some are speedy thinkers, quick with a response, quick to want to suggest solutions, quick to want to make up after a fight. Others are deliberate processors, slow to know what they feel, in need of time to  make a decision.

One of my daughters processes things over time. Recently we got in an argument over what movie to watch. I pushed; she got upset. It was a bit of a mess.

When the deliberate processors meet the fast processors over an issue, watch out. The quick tend to bulldoze the slow; the  slow tend to stall the quick.

The solution? In the family, it is wise to allow for differences without judging and stigmatizing the way the people we live with process things. The quick can say, “Hey, take a little time and get back to me on what you think.” The slow can say, “It’s good that you want to resolve this now. Let’s see if we can talk it out. What do you think we should do?”

The secret is to honor the other persons process and to negotiate in a way that works for both people. On the movie issue, my daughter and I gave it some time. We came to an agreeement.

Often the differences in our families show up in our likes and dislikes. Some like sports; some like to read. Some like to hike; some like to watch TV. Again it is so easy to be threatened by differences.  If we aren’t atheletic, could it be that atheletic people make us feel clutsy? If we aren’t smart and bookish, perhaps the literary nerds make us feel ignorant.

I like to watch football. My wife doesn’t. She graciously gives me space to do this. And she doesn’t just tolerate it; she supports me in it. Recently I invited a friend over to watch a playoff game with me. My wife called my friend’s wife, and they took a walk during the game.

The solution to our different likes? Again, it is to allow for differences without judging each other. Who wants a family full of rules and reactions that keep people from enjoying what they really love to do? By giving space for others to do what they want, we allow them to be happy and fulfilled. And furthermore, if we will participate in each others likes, we can expand our interests and become increasingly enriched people.

Giving a spouse or child a chance to pursue their passion is a way of serving and deeply loving them. The I-want-you-to-be-able-to-do-what-you-want response is at the core of what it means to love another person.

Differences between us can threaten or enrich;  it’s mostly our choice.

  1. Pat says:

    Good, balanced instruction. We all need to remember these things in the day-to-day of life. If we could all just remember that my way of handling things may not be your way, but God made us all, and what He made is good. Thanks for an insightful message.

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