5 Lessons Our Family Teaches Us

5 life lessons your family will teach you.

Family 13th Jan, 2021

For many people, your family is your first teacher and you learn multiple life lessons from them. This has both advantages and disadvantages, as no one and no family dynamic is perfect. You may learn anything from how to love, to ruthless competitiveness. Perhaps some of the ideas you absorbed in your youth need re-evaluating now you are an adult. You can challenge the negative characteristics and attitudes you learnt as a child, while holding onto the positive values that you cherish.

Competitiveness:

Whether it’s with siblings, parents, cousins, or adopted family, playing games as a child can teach you all sorts of lessons. Competitions can be friendly, fought to the last breath, dirty, or somewhere in between. What you learn playing a simple game can be carried through to later life where you may loathe competition, expect to lose, or remorselessly charge through until you win. There is a balance to be struck between these extremes. While a competitive attitude can help you, it can also frighten people away. It may also lead to undervaluing others if you do not understand a person can be driven, without being competitive. Likewise, a lack, or strong dislike of competitiveness, can lead to missed opportunities and poor self belief. If either applies to you, think about how you can find a balance, then start to work towards achieving one.

Sacrifice:

If someone in your family took you to team practice, cheered you on at games, or drove you to any other after school activity, they sacrificed their time. Perhaps there were years when parent/s or siblings were working through your birthday/the holiday season. If any of your family worked more than one job to put food on the table, or save for a college education, then you understand sacrifice. This is a wonderful quality to learn, however, it may have left you with feelings of guilt, or obligation. If this is the case, you can find yourself burning out as you offer help to family and take too much on. When that happens, talk to your parents and siblings, explain that you are struggling but still want to help, then find a happy medium for you all. If you are nervous, remember that anyone who has taught you sacrifice will understand and want to ease your burden.

Cooperation:

Whatever your relationship with your mother, father and siblings, it is likely you had to work together towards a common goal at various points in your childhood. This ranges from persuading a parent to let you go out, to getting a pet and many other variations. This should not be confused with manipulation, which plays on people’s emotions and uses guilt to force them into doing something they really do not want to do. Cooperation means working in harmony, even with people you do not always like, to achieve something. This can really serve you well in later life.

Compromise:

Like cooperation, compromise makes the world go round. This is often learned as a child because a family is made up of many different personalities. You may need to compromise on anything from an evening meal with different food preferences, to what clothes you buy. If the reason you can not buy something is cost, then you may compromise by contributing to the outfit/trainers. However, compromise means working out a happy medium between different points of view, not a parent/sibling etc dictating what you will do. Having a decision made for you is something to challenge as an adult. As long as the compromise is mutual, not you giving way to someone else’s needs, this is a very useful skill to have and will be put to good use in your career.

How To Love:

One of the most important lessons of all, you will learn how, or indeed if, your parents love each other as a child. You may witness small acts of love daily, from washing the dishes, to emptying the bin. You may also be given these same chores and bully, or be bullied by your sibling, to do them. Unless you are given a reason, or incentive to do chores (often money), then you are being made to do something and do not know any better than to force the chore on someone else if you can. Therefore, as a child you can absorb loving, accepting attitudes alongside damaging, often passive aggressive behaviour. Take a look at the positive and negative qualities in your parents/step/foster/adoptive parents or siblings, are there things you like, or dislike, that you recognise in yourself? It is healthy to evaluate our attitudes to love, as long as you do not attack yourself. This is not about listening to a voice in your head that says you are a failure. It is about openly and honestly evaluating the lessons you learnt as a child and what to keep, or discard.

Ultimately we all learn from a multitude of people and in many different ways. Although the initial lessons come from family, school adds a new dimension, as do friends, television, books, gaming and many other elements. Take a moment to think about childhood lessons, perhaps to be grateful or sorrowful for them, learn what you need to and move on. If you do want to make a change, understand this takes time, you may fall back into old habits occasionally. This is completely normal, do not let it stop you trying again and becoming the best friend, partner, or parent you can be.

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