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Sunday, June 24, 2007

families

"All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." —LEO TOLSTOY

I've always liked that quote, although I don't think I agree with it. While the latter may well be true, I suspect that there are as many ways for families to be happy as there are different ways of being a family. At least, let's hope so. But I've been thinking more about families and family life ever since posting about Father's Day and reading the responses shared by you. The consensus seems to be that there is no "normal" family, or that the screwed up family is the norm. And if that's the case, should we even really use the term "dysfunctional" when talking about family? I mean, if it's more typical for a family not to be functional, wouldn't that make the term in relation to family obsolete?


At any rate, it got me to thinking. I grew up (like many of you perhaps) watching The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie, and always felt wistful seeing those shows because while I knew that my own family wasn't like either one of those in even the remotest sense, I always thought that other families came closer to the ideal. And even though I realized at the time that those shows were cloyingly sweet, I still assumed that most other families scored at least a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 in resembling the closeness of those TV families, whereas my own family scored a measly 1 at best. But maybe I was wrong. And that, strangely enough, I find comforting. Ah, but if only I'd known while growing up!

6 Comments:

Anonymous krissa said...

Those were two of the shows that I was allowed to watch when I was little. Those are the families that my parents wanted to project. We were like them in the sense that we ate dinner together every night and had to go to church and stuff. But there was none of the closeness or realness that there was on the shows. In our family, anything "bad" wasn't ok. It wasn't ok to be mad or sad. And since lots of times I wasn't happy, I was left confused and feeling bad about myself more often than not. Now I know that my parents were always mad and sad themselves. Too bad we couldn't have been more real. We'd all have been better off for it. However, there are many families who were way more dysfunctional than mine and kids who have suffered way more than me. Probably on your comparison scale, my family really was a 5. It could have been much better...or much worse.

June 25, 2007 9:47 AM

 
Blogger KJ's muse said...

We were like them in the sense that we ate dinner together every night and had to go to church and stuff. But there was none of the closeness or realness that there was on the shows. In our family, anything "bad" wasn't ok. It wasn't ok to be mad or sad. And since lots of times I wasn't happy, I was left confused and feeling bad about myself more often than not. Now I know that my parents were always mad and sad themselves. Too bad we couldn't have been more real. We'd all have been better off for it.

Word for word, I could write the same thing about my own experience. Wonder how many others could as well? Sad really.

Thanks for sharing.

June 25, 2007 8:25 PM

 
Anonymous krissa said...

Yeah, I'm afraid we are in the majority. I am just thankful that my brothers and I didn't continue that trend once we grew up. We're all close and we can be ourselves with each other no matter what we feel like. That is a blessing. I hope my parents will experience that one day before they pass. It really would have been great to have that realness with our parents as a kid though.

June 26, 2007 9:03 AM

 
Blogger KJ's muse said...

Know what you mean. But thankfully you and your sibs have managed to stop the cycle. :)

June 26, 2007 8:18 PM

 
Blogger Bogdan, the editor said...

Hi you two. I'm way behind!

Maybe my family was more "real."
My Mom tried to hide the dysfunction, but my Dad didn't, which was refreshing. He didn't care that people knew he slept in a different room or went out on Fridays to have fun with friends without Mom (truthfully, she would have ruined his time). My brother is a half-brother, and my Dad never tried to push on him about calling him "Dad" or whatever, but my Mom did. Uh, I think Kat 3 just farted on me. Gross. Thanks a lot, Kat 3.

Anyway. I never watched those "happy" shows on TV. All I remember is watching MTV. I'm not even kidding. Oh, and I remember swear words, a lot. Which is nice now. I can say fuck and shit around my parents. It's weird now to be around my husband's parents who keep up the wholesome thing as best as they can.

So... On the realness scale, I'd say my family was an 9. on "The Waltons" scale, I'd say we were a 1. I mean, we even stopped eating dinners as a family before I hit age 10. But for all that, on the closeness scale, I'd say 8. I know stuff about my parents' partying habits early in life no one should know.

I'm pretty happy overall how things turned out. I resented my parents in high school and college; I wanted "normal." But now I'm OK with everything... even if I'm a little screwed up for it! Ha. Maybe we should embrace the dysfunction!

June 30, 2007 1:10 PM

 
Blogger KJ's muse said...

No problem Jen. Comments are never too late, and my email always catches them. :)

Um, Kazumi says "Nice contribution Kat 3." Snort.

Well, 8 and 9 are great scores, especially on the scales that really matter, so it sounds like your family certainly did something right.

Hmmm, seem to remember some line about not forgetting (ha ha, that's sort of a pun right there) the "fun" in dysfunctional and maybe they have a point!

Families -- can't live with them, and can't live without them I guess. ;)

June 30, 2007 1:49 PM

 

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