We hear about love in a family, complaints in a family, problems in a family. Isn’t this because the family has its deepest roots in life and happiness? Modern psychology has shown the necessity of a loving family for the development of a child.
- Yes, we reach an age when it is considered normal to be autonomous and create some distance between ourselves and our family: “You leave your father and your mother…” (Genesis 2:24) Doing this is a sign of maturity. The sign of an extended adolescence would be to remain very dependent upon the family.
- We may not always agree with the way we were brought up or with the ideals or limitations of our family. We tend to ridicule its weaknesses and failings. We may be afraid that our friends make fun of these limitations or make fun of our parents who are not the way we would want them to be or don’t project the image we wish they would.
Despite all of this, no one wants to see their parents separate or to live in a family that constantly fights. There is something very important in a family that is truly a treasure.
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- If we have difficulties in our family, we must allow time and our own growth in maturity to work on the situation. We can find tremendous freedom in forgiving our family! Not by reacting aggressively or by having a strong dependence on our family which inhibits our own growth. (The problem of co-dependence of members of a family upon each other is a common expression these days.)
In this way, we are better able to build our personal life and perhaps eventually consider entering a “covenant” of marriage with another person.
- There is a truth about marriage that transcends different cultures and goes beyond the weaknesses and limitations of people. The “I do” in marriage is the corner stone of a community of life and love, and the power of a man and woman to give life is not just in conceiving and giving birth to a child. Within the family, the child will be able to grow and develop as a unique person. The character, the freedom and the history of this new individual is constructed: the family is not a closed circle. It is a place for growth and for life and it is the foundation of all human society.
When I was 19, my father left my mother for another woman. Obviously this affected me deeply.
Initially I blamed myself. The only fights that I had witnessed between the two of them had to do with my being a teenager and what I was doing, and so I concluded that I was the cause of the separation! Thankfully, over time, I came to realize that this was not true and that my presence had served to show them that their relationship had a problem.
I was ashamed to have divorced parents. I wouldn’t talk about what had happened at home, even to my best friends! Then I became afraid: could I ever get married? Would any girl want someone like me? Wasn’t I going to fail in marriage because everyone says I’m like my father?
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About that time, I met a girl and a friendship began. But I still had to tell her the truth. I knew that would be the end to our friendship. To my surprise, however, she said: “You must have suffered a lot!” This was the beginning of my healing.
A few months later we told each other that we were in love….well, in fact she said it first because I was so afraid of being rejected!
We married and started a family and we now have five children. My wife’s love and confidence helped heal my fears and helped me live the unhappy experience of my parents as something other than a fatality. We’ve been married twenty years now and together we are raising our children, together we are giving them the best of ourselves, together we share our love for them–even though my father had always been very reserved.
My wife and my children helped me discover that I could, joyfully and without fear, be a husband and father.