Have you ever thought about the family culture in which you grew up and how that impacts you as a wife and mother? Many consciously or subconsciously look back and have reduced their conclusions to one of the following:
Your close-knit family has been a role model for you to emulate
Your broken family was the impetus to head in the opposite direction and create a whole and healthy family.
With all the pressures of life, thinking a bit more about your family culture might not be high on your ‘to-do’ list. But what if I told you that doing so would allow you to enjoy greater freedom and empower you to create a family culture that protects and prepares children for inevitable sexual harm?
Recently, I’ve begun writing about the culture in my family of origin. A couple of questions helped get me started:
- How did your dad relate to your mom?
- How did your mom relate to your dad?
- How did your parents relate to you?
- What role did you play in your family?
- What was the religious or spiritual atmosphere of your home?
- How did your parents engage the budding sexuality of their children?
It was an interesting exercise. What I unpacked from my memory bank revealed both dignity and depravity at work in my family. Then I was free to embrace the good and change the bad.
My Family Culture
I grew up in a close-knit family. Because my parents’ parents were divorced and several of my relatives lived out of state, my mom and dad focused on growing an inseparable family. Traditions, celebrations, and family activities were a regular way of life intended to bind us together. My parents strove to create the family they never had. Yet, honesty and autonomy were not celebrated if they did not uphold the family value of ‘one family indivisible’. Thus, when I spoke of my abuse which occurred within our family, I was minimized and ostracized.
Now that I have a greater understanding about the culture I grew up in, I can embrace the goodness I experienced regarding family oneness, yet I also choose to celebrate my children’s independence and honesty. In fact, I’ve invited my adult children to explore their own story within the context of the family culture Tom and I created. I encourage them to be honest about the hurts or wounds they sustained growing up in our home. Then, we can empathize, ask forgiveness, and grieve their losses with them. Once losses are grieved, you are much less likely to reenact those things that hurt you in the past.
This, in turn, encourages my adult children to think about the culture they want to create for their children. And, it gives Tom and I an opportunity to experience a life-giving relationship with them. No matter how old your children are, it’s never too late to invite them to enter their story so they, in turn, can choose what they will embrace and what needs changing!
If you’re the parent of younger children, looking back at your family culture will help you establish a life-giving environment which nurtures and protects your kids and their budding sexuality. (We’ll talk more about this in next week’s blog). This is the optimum time to look back!
I want to invite you to examine the stories that reveal your family culture in order to determine
a. What you want to keep that offers life
b. What you want to change that produces death
If you’re the parent of younger children, this exercise is particularly important when talking about your desire to protect your children from sexual abuse and harm. It will enable you to replace harmful patterns of behavior with gentle protecting skills so your children feel safe to bring you their concerns and discuss anything.
If you’d like to learn more about how to protect and prepare your children for inevitable sexual harm, REGISTER for my FREE webinar on May 11 at either 2:00 pm or 7:00 pm.
Beautiful Action Step:
Answer questions #1-6 above. Discuss with your husband some of what you’ve discovered and begin to implement change in order to create a safe environment for your kids.