A supportive family is not a must-have for your success (It’s a nice-to-have)

Stop expecting that they should understand you!

If they don’t understand you, you are probably doing things differently.

You have a different approach to life in general, or you view many things differently.

Maybe you have different religious beliefs.

Maybe you have different political preferences.

Maybe you think differently about your career.

Maybe you think differently about success and happiness.

Maybe you have different values.

If you and they fight it either means that

A/ both sides are trying to convince the other side that their views, beliefs, definitions and values are right and that different views are wrong,


B/ without trying to convince each other who is wrong and who is right, you get this feeling that you are doing something wrong — they say nothing but you know that they don’t approve of your choices and don’t support you (they never tell you that you’re doing the right thing, they don’t quite get it, they never heard of it, your approach is new to them, etc.).

It’s very common among family members (children and parents in particular) that they expect to be understood and supported by other members of the family.

We expect that our ideas will be immediately understood and supported. We expect that our differences will be immediately acknowledged and respected, and when it doesn’t happen, we freak out.

Because we are family we expect all people to be on the same page. It applies equally to parents who threaten to disown their children in case those changed the religion, and to children who freak out that their parents don’t understand them.

Turns out most of us overlook the dynamics that are so characteristic of all families.

Entitlement is strongest among family members because family members think of themselves as members of the same clan. And if a clan is to function well there should be some kind of unity. But there is a problem. At the same time, we would like to be free to make our own choices (which might differ from those of other members of our family).

Furthermore, we think of our families as extensions of ourselves. We use the same name, we are perceived by others as part of this particular family, and thus we tend to view the successes and failures of individual members of families (ours and those of others) as being a reflection of the entire family. We identify with those successes and failures.

Even if we didn’t accomplish anything special in our lives, the sheer fact that we bear the name Lincoln, or Mandela, or Chanel, or Winfrey, or Spielberg, makes us feel special. And sometimes the actions of other members of our family will be the reason why we want to change that name.

That’s precisely why family members often tell other family members what they should and shouldn’t do and feel that they are entitled to do so. They think of themselves as guardians of a good name of this family.

And last, but not least, we always fear the things that are unknown to us. Things that aren’t part of our current reality. That lie outside of our comfort zone.

Usually we check if there is a unity of beliefs, values, and opinions. The lack of this unity is understood not as a normal thing among human beings (we’re all different and we all have the right to be different), but as a threat to the clan/ name of the family.

A clan is strong (and able to defend itself)/ and a good name of the family will be preserved, only if there are no significant differences between its members. That’s why all differences/ deviations from something that is “normal” are viewed as a threat to the clan/ family.

Taking into account our desire to be independent, I guess, that’s why there are often fights among family members.

But do we really need this unity of beliefs and opinions among all members of our families nowadays (younger and older generations)? Is there still a real need to defend our clan from invaders from a neighboring village? Of course, there isn’t.

But we continue to assume that there should be no significant differences among family members. That’s why we don’t mind if our colleagues at work have different beliefs than us, but become upset or freak out when a member of our family decides that he/ she will switch to a different religion or support a different political party.

It’s like we’re all entitled to have in our families members who have the same beliefs, opinions, preferences, attitudes and values. And that’s the source of all toxicity within families.

More than the right to be different, having freedom of beliefs and choices, most of us value the feeling of being among people who think and act in the same way and don’t disappoint other members of the family by taking risks or doing things that might be ridiculed in the community.

They don’t get you? That’s perfectly OK. Really!

Find supporters/ people who get it/ like-minded people elsewhere. There are currently more than 7,5 billion people on this planet, and the number is still growing. And some of them will be more than happy to connect with you and support you. Those people will reach out to you and you won’t need to fight their beliefs — most of them will be like-minded already.

Our supporters don’t necessarily need to be members of our families. The sooner you’ll understand this, the less it will bother you that they don’t support you.

And there is nothing wrong about the fact that members of our families are not our supporters, or that they don’t get us. As long as they don’t put us down, we can stay in touch and let them believe whatever they want to believe.

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Writing is my oxygen. I write every day. About parenting, career life and the challenges of being a young adult.

Each day I share my musings on my blog http://mygame.typepad.com.

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- Lukasz