One of the strangest things I came to learn about family while growing up, is that in families we talk about each other.
If you have two sisters, you’ll talk about the one to the other – sharing the good and bad moments with each other. It’s part of how families bond.
I still remember the first time I realized this. My gran had made a comment about how lazily I sweep the floor, and my sister said it back to me in a fight, “no wonder gran says you’re lazy”. Of course my gran meant no harm, and my sister was just being a sibling. But I was puzzled about why my gran had never mentioned this to me (as we did live in the same house).
As I grew up I realised that this is simply how families function.
It can be innocent, but I’ve realised that as we get older, it can be damaging to relationships.
Once people get older, it seems we start relying on others to judge the character / persons of other people for us. So if someone says someone is lazy long enough, you will end up truly thinking that they are indeed lazy. Even if it’s not something you yourself have come to observe about the person.
Many people have judged others before they have even met them, simply because of the opinion of those close to them.
I’ve also seen how siblings can hate/dislike one another simply because of what they have heard about each other either from a parent, or from another sibling – or even another family member.
The truth is, we need to be conscious of how our words and action affect the ability of other people close to us to relate to one another.
I know from experience that I can influence how people close to me relate with each other. I know I can start by gauging what they think of each other and then begin to make certain suggestions to drive their relationship in a particular direction. The closer I am to them, the more influence I have on them.
These are just my reflections. As I think about how we can build stronger and more authentic relationships in our families.
The Bible talks about the need to protect our hearts, and I think as far as relationships go, we have a responsibility to protect the hearts of our loved ones by always asking ourselves, “what is my intention in sharing this story about that person with this person?”. If our intentions our wrong, or we suspect that it might affect the person we are sharing the story with negatively towards the other person, then let’s rather not share it.