Myths About Family
A client and I had a great session brainstorming myths about family, stemming from her realization that, though she binges far less than she used to, the times she does binge are often around holidays and family gatherings. If she could clear up the myths she’s been believing, she thought, she might be able to stop bingeing completely. The myths we came up with, mostly from her dysfunctional family, are as follows:
- We love each other and act lovingly toward each other.
- We stick together, show each other loyalty, and have each other’s backs.
- Belonging to family is what we aspire to.
- Belonging to and being accepted by family is the most important thing in the world.
- A cohesive family unit is more important than individual needs and personalities.
- Being like family members is better than being different from them.
- Families should spend a great deal of time together.
- Family members are responsible for and obligated to each other.
- Family members all have defined roles in the family which they must stick to.
- Never tell family secrets.
- Our family is always fine.
- Our family unit is more important than the individuals in it.
- The children in the family should all try to be the same and mirror their parents.
- There should no boundaries among family members.
- We should all strive for family harmony above all else.
Do these myths sound familiar? Are they your beliefs now? A healthy family respects all its members equally and views each family member as equally important to the unit. The above myths, which may become your beliefs, are particularly destructive when the behaviors of family members, particularly parents, are not loving, fair or respectful, when dynamics go terribly awry, and relationships are dysfunctional. These myths fly in the face of reality, are very confusing, and can be truly crazy making, making you wonder if you should believe what you are experiencing or what you are told is reality.
During this holiday season, strive to have rational beliefs and expectations about family. If they can live up to some of your expectations, all well and good. If they can’t live up to any of them, face that reality too. Keeping your expectations low and realistic will help you avoid eating your way through the holidays—or any other time of the year.