Family Love: Acceptance, Understanding and Protection
Believe it or not, the perfect family does exist. It's a family that protects, understands, cares, and accepts its members for who they are. Growing up with these essential nutrients helps to strengthen our identity, while helping us to feel safe and free to build the life we want.
Family love is the backbone of our world. Growing up, learning, and being a part of that initial family unit, surrounded by affection, values, and safety, undoubtedly has one of the strongest influences on our mental health throughout our lives. A large part of who we are is due to the early experiences and bonds we create with our parents.
Salvador Minuchin, an Argentinian psychiatrist and creator of structural family therapy, once said that, in all cultures, the family imprints its members with a sense of identity. This identity is made up of two opposing elements: a sense of belonging, and a sense of being separate. While this might seem contradictory, the explanation behind it is extremely important.
We’re all part of a family legacy, a small social nucleus where we find our roots, stretching back generations. In turn, and regardless of how much or how little we love our children, the goal of every child is to one day leave their parents and head out on their own. Building our own lives and connections with other people isn’t only expected but necessary, and ultimately defines human development.
Affection is the heart of any good relationship. However, love alone isn’t enough. For a family to be healthy and functional, you need to learn how to love well. Let’s take a look at this idea in greater detail.
Family love: essential components
May 15 is the International Day of Families. As the United Nations explains, there’s still a lot of progress to be made over the next few years, especially in light of the social and economic crisis that looks set to occur in the coming months. As such, we need to improve family protection policies, paying particular attention to family counseling and responding to changing needs in an increasingly complex world.
The role these policies play in the care and education of children in all areas of society is undeniable. At the end of the day, family is at the forefront of human development and is fundamental for promoting social transformation. But supporting families doesn’t just mean providing healthcare and financial resources. One aspect we can’t overlook is improving access to psychological care.
Different family structures, equal rights
Families come in different shapes and sizes. But no matter what form a family takes, love is essential. There are single fathers and mothers who face the rollercoaster of parenthood alone. There are large extended families all living under the same roof: children, parents, and grandparents. They face all of life’s problems together, with everyone pitching in to raise the children.
In today’s society, homoparental families are also becoming increasingly common, demonstrating that diversity has become a part of our daily reality. These families deserve the same levels of respect and acceptance as any other kind of family. The formation of these kinds of healthy social nuclei from a young age fosters the sharing of values and affection, as well as healthy physical, emotional, and psychological development. It also encourages us to focus on the vital components that are essential to any healthy and functional family, including:
- Good communication.
- Establishing clear boundaries to promote understanding of rules and laws early on.
- Creating a tight-knit support network where everyone is free to express their emotions and learn how to manage them.
- Healthy expression of emotions. Above all, parents must avoid projecting their own past traumas onto their children.
- Teaching children how to avoid conflict, create good social relationships, and be assertive.
Family love: nurturing rather than limiting
Family love should be healthy and nurturing, acting as a source of support to give each family member a sense of security, and allow them to continue growing as an individual. They should know that they’re free to make their own decisions, and that those decisions will be respected.
As we all know, some types of love limit rather than nurture, hindering good psychological and emotional development in children. One example might be overprotective parenting – that excessive, dominating, and limiting affection that robs children of their freedom.
It’s important for every family to understand that money and resources aren’t the only things that count – emotional support is equally valuable. It doesn’t matter what school a child goes to or how many toys or clothes they have if they don’t also have the following:
- Understanding. Nothing is so important as understanding the different points of view of each family member. The ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes is essential if we want to build strong and healthy emotional ties.
- Acceptance. This second aspect is a fundamental ingredient for any family. Knowing that we’re loved for who we are, regardless of our life choices, is something that everyone needs from their loved ones.
- Care and protection. If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that love and care go hand in hand. Few things are as comforting as feeling loved and cared for by the people we love, and knowing that we’d give them the same in return.
In conclusion, there’s nothing more important than family love. It’s a love that embraces us with open arms and knows when to let us go. Being clear about our roots, and having the freedom to build the life we want, are two of the fundamental pillars of true happiness.