June 17, 2016, by Hannah
It’s a true fact of life that families don’t always get along. We’re around each other 24/7, so much that we can’t possibly agree about everything. Disputes are bound to happen. Still, it’s kind of odd sometimes when you realize that we can occasionally treat strangers better than our own family.
We’re taught from the time that we’re little kids to be polite to strangers. You smile, offer a “How do you do?”, and shake hands. We don’t want strangers, people who we’ve only just met and might not ever see again, to form a bad impression about us that we’ll never be able to change. While some people take the opposite viewpoint, and don’t really worry about what strangers think because they will never see them again, I have always found myself wanting to leave a good impression on the people I meet. I know that once they leave, I might never get the chance to alter that impression, so I want to make sure that it’s a good one.
The weird thing is, there isn’t that same pressure around family. Since we’re stuck together, for better or for worse, we know that we have to be forgiven by them if we mess up. No matter how rude we are, or how many times we yell or slam the door, we know that since we’re family, they can’t hold a grudge for long. Eventually, they’ll have to forgive us and will be around for us to make up for it. We expect this, and sometimes we take it for granted.
And yet, it’s our family that deserves to be treated as kind as we treat strangers. Why should we worry so much about what strangers think of us? Like I stated earlier, we might never see them again, so why stress over their opinion of us? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with making sure that we are kind to the people that matter, like our mothers and fathers and siblings?
Feelings Toward Family Members
Maybe we focus on what strangers think because it’s easier than the opinions of our family. How we feel about family is constantly evolving. I can be so angry with my siblings one minute, and then the next minute everything is forgiven as I laugh at a joke or story that they told. And I know that how they feel about me is always changing, too. But with people we’ll only meet once, it’s pretty easy to make a decent first impression. And then we can be comforted with the knowledge that they will carry around that impression of us.
Family isn’t like that. It’s complicated and hairy. I love everyone in my family unconditionally, but there are times when I really wish I was allowed not to. Worrying about how they feel about me is harder, because I know that they know everything that I’ve done wrong. They have seen my flaws, how I can be moody, messy, and obnoxious. Maybe we think that whatever our family thinks can’t be changed, that what they think is what they think.
It might also have to do with the fact that we can be ourselves with our families. We can be imperfect, and we are forgiven for it. We don’t have to be kind, and we can allow ourselves to not be cheerful. Because of this, sometimes we give ourselves a free pass to be unkind to family and think that it’s okay. However, while that’s a nice thought, I don’t think it should be like that all the time.
We have a right to be ourselves with our families, but I think we should always try to be the best versions of ourselves for them. After all, they are the people that deserve it the most. They are the people that have stuck by us through thick and thin, seen how imperfect we are, and still love us despite all that. They still love us for all of our imperfections. Even if we can’t be kind all of the time, they have earned the right for us to try.
So open doors for your family. Ask them how they are doing. Smile. Be kind, and remember that even if it doesn’t feel like it all of the time, you love them, and they are on your side more than any stranger ever will. See you next week!
“Reprinted from Hagel Publications, Inc. dba as Courier Newspapers”