Sunday, February 3, 2013

Family dynamics

I've been thinking a lot about family dynamics recently.  So many things can affect a person's life.  The number of children in the house, mom and dad both working full time jobs, parents without jobs trying to raise their children, a grandparent living in the home, etc.

I know a young woman who has an older brother who is mentally impaired/mentally challenged/disabled.  I hate labels but I guess they're necessary - most of the time.  

Anyway, I was curious about how her life was shaped by having a sibling that was "different."  Since they are 8 years apart she wasn't aware of that difference until she was older.  She related falling easily into the helper category, putting his needs first in many situations.  Often times wanting to be the "relief" for her parents.

That kind of family environment can really change a child.  The change can go either way - good or bad.  This woman definitely came out on the good side.  She's strong, supportive and positive.

I wonder, though, about resentment, anger and embarrassment.  The hearing child who doesn't want their Deaf mom and or dad to come to school conferences because they talk with their hands and make weird noises.  Maybe they grow up to become kick-ass interpreters.  I know a few of those.

How about the child with a mentally ill parent or sibling?  Frequent trauma, fear and trips to the hospital.  All the attention being focused onto the sick person and none on the child that's "normal."

I can not imagine what it is like for a youngster to visit a parent in jail.  It has to affect them whether they're aware of it or not - on some level.

Again, I look at my life and thank my lucky stars.     

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