What is a “creative family lifestyle,” and why would anyone want to live one?
To me, living a creative family lifestyle really means living a life intentionally crafted by me. A life crafted around the pursuit of my most closely held dreams and desires. A life spent in pursuit of my true life’s purpose.
And when I am a part of a family, as I am, it means working and living together, discovering, nurturing and sharing our unique dreams with each other, and doing our darndest to help each other live out those dreams while staying together as a supportive and loving family unit.
Certainly, some family members will ultimately have dreams and desires that necessarily take them physically away from the family unit, and that’s fine. In fact, to prevent such a separation from occurring in the name of preserving family cohesion is, in effect, emotional kidnapping.
Nevertheless, a reasonably functional family will want to do things on occasion as a unit, and to enjoy each other’s company. This form of family function is (or at least should be in my opinion) a life-long pursuit. Long after you are grown and have left the nest, you will likely feel the desire to share that old filial closeness, both with your birth family and with your new, nuclear family, plus extended family and friends.
Unfortunately, many birth families break up almost entirely once the children leave the nest. Today’s workplace often takes people to far corners of the globe. Yet with modern communications and (sometimes) reasonably-priced travel, a family that wants to be together, can be together.
Regardless of the value that solid family ties can bring to your life, if your birth family tends to be less functional, or even emotionally destructive, then you probably should stay away from them. This is a hard decision to make. And it is generally riddled with guilty feelings. Those guilty feelings are often encouraged by certain family members who think that they can manipulate you back “into the fold.” But you are not a sheep, you are a vibrant human being. And you have a right to be happy. You don’t have an obligation to put up with their s**t.
If you do not feel the desire to associate with your family relations, ask yourself, “Why?” Are they truly destructive in your presence? Do they actively try to undermine your happiness? Are they co-dependent and looking for you to carry them emotionally? If so, then your decision to distance yourself from them is likely a sound one.
On the other hand, are you harboring old grudges or anger? Most of us do, to a degree. We will never forgive our parents for not living up to the perfect images that we unrealistically held of them in our infancy. Do you still carry anger for an old wrong? Carrying this old anger or other negative emotion around with you means that you are the cause of the discomfort that you feel when the subject of your family comes up. Your instinctive reaction to that memory is interfering with your happiness. And it is probably interfering with your ability to be the top-notch parent that you want to be for your children. You may actually be passing some of that old, negative energy, on to your children.
If you determine, after honest contemplation, and possibly with the help of a good counselor, that some part of your family relations is destructive to your happiness, then you can take action to separate from them, without guilt. If you find that a major part of your discomfort with family derives from old emotional baggage, then you need to learn to move beyond those old emotions. Try meditation. Counseling can also be a great way to face and then permanently dismiss these ghosts of the past.
The point of this discussion is that you cannot pursue a creative family lifestyle if you don’t really enjoy being with your family. Get to the root of what interferes with you developing a full connection with your spouse and kids. Intentionally crafting your personal life, while respecting and allowing other family members to do the same, and while maintaining a close filial connection, is the definition of a fully functioning composite family life.
A composite family life means a life blended in such a way that the combination is stronger than the sum of its parts. It’s synergy. It is not a compromise lifestyle. If you feel that being with your family requires you to compromise on the honest pursuit of your personal dreams, then you will resent your family for “forcing” you to accept that compromise. And sitting in quiet resentment among your family is no way to live. Such an emotional state cannot help but bleed over into your actions and attitudes as a parent, for example. And resentment tends to grow over time if not addressed.
You cannot live in bliss if you hold onto negative emotions. To live within a family without limits, you must first discover the true value of your family as a spice that can enrich your life experience instead of spoiling your happiness.
If the quality of your family life experience is not great then now is the time to get to the bottom of your issues. Heading off to Tahiti will not bring you instant happiness. It will not solve old family problems or attitudes. A line from a movie once said, “This is an island, Bud. If you didn’t bring it here, you won’t find it here.” The character was referring to the search for bliss and happiness in exotic locales.
So, the first step to living a family life without limits, to creating the family lifestyle of your dreams, is to clean up old business. You may have to bulldoze the old place before you start building the new one.
Talk to you soon,