How Family Relationships Change

Of course, family relationships have a big influence on who we are, what we believe in and our interests. As small children so much of our lives centers on home and family. We learn to see the world and other people through the eyes of our family. As we go through the grade school years, family remains vitally important – but the time and energy we spend on friendships and relationships with others outside of home grows significantly.

By the time we reach our high school years, we are even more closely connected with friends and relationships outside the home (including romantic relationships, for some people). Think about whom you would speak to if you had a problem now. It may be a family member but during the high school years it may also be a friend. And while we are connecting to others outside of home, most of us also are trying to establish more of a sense of independence. As we mature, we have to learn how to balance the influence from our family with our desire to develop our own values and interests.

Throughout our lives our relationships continue to evolve. Would your parents have asked you to help make a decision about something significant when you were five? Can you imagine this happening now? One of the other important things we come to learn as we grow up is that our parents are real people. Sounds odd but as small children we usually imagine our parents are pretty amazing – that they know practically everything there is to know. As we get older, we usually find out that our parents may be better at some things and not as good at others.  We realize they have limits. This can be disappointing in some ways (it is comforting to think that there are people out there who know and can fix anything) but at the same time it helps us have a more mature, and in some ways deeper relationship with them.

If you have grandparents in your life, consider how your parents/family relate to them. Probably somewhat differently from how you currently relate to your parents or family – they are in a different place in their lives.

The point is, as we travel through our lives, our relationships inevitably change. Understanding that this will happen, though, gives us a chance to make our connections to others more interesting and hopefully deeper and more rewarding.

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