Family Circle

By Michael

Jill and I were driving into the city yesterday and talking about family. More specifically, we were talking about how little we really know about some of the people we consider closest to us.

Cousins, aunts, nieces, even our parents, can sometimes be a blur. We think we know them, but suddenly we realize that we’ve simply had the same conversation with them 500 times. “So nice to see you. What’s new?” “Factoid, factoid, factoid.” “Oh, that sounds wonderful/awful. I hope it continues/stops. Look, there’s cousin Frank. I have to go see what he’s up to.”

Life can become a series of status reports and updates, because we don’t live with our cousins or uncles and only bump into them occasionally. In a way, we can feel closer to family members than our actual contact would justify.

How much we really know about our closest relations will depend on when we met them. We discover aunts and uncles as adults, so we have no intimate sense of them in the earlier years. We discover our parents as adults, as well, so we have no sense of their lives as children like us. And our kids? Same thing.

As the girls move on with their lives and Jill and I look at our empty nest, we realize how much it’s a challenge to keep up to date on our nuclear family. How we stay in touch, what we talk about, how we share…all of it has to change when the girls are living somewhere else with someone else.

Suddenly, though, I realized that this wasn’t a sharp break in our lives. After the age of two or three, maybe four at the latest, the girls were somewhere else with someone else an increasing percentage of their time. From pre-school through junior high and college, being a part of each other’s lives has required continual adjustments–most by us, because we’re the ones aware of how life changes.

I don’t want to gt to the point of having factoid discussions with my daughters. New adjustments are needed as they evolve. It’s a process that never ends, if we want to be successful parents.

Wow. Was that deep or what?

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

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