Sunday, July 1, 2012

Family Loyalty

I find the dynamics of loyalty among family members very interesting. I only have one brother so growing up he was usually the first to know my secrets. Now that our family has grown making a total of 7 siblings/sibling-in-laws and 4 parents/parent-in-laws, alliances have been shifted. One unspoken rule that I follow is that if someone tells you something it is not your place to tell everyone else until that person is ready to share the information.

When one of the siblings had their first unplanned teen pregnancy. I was honored that I was told before anyone else in the family, but knowing and keeping it from everyone had me on the verge of insanity.  I was seriously going nuts keeping a secret from my partner, but my loyalty to the sibling was more important; it wasn't my news to share. So when it happened again five months after the first baby was born I asked if it was ok to tell my partner.

I used to visit a sibling in lock up once a week. Conversation would hardly slow and before I knew it our forty-five minutes were up. We would talk about everything in a safe space. There was an unspoken establishment of loyalty. I was told things that disturbed me but I felt like whether they were secrets or not I shouldn't blab my mouth and tell other family members. I think this was a good lesson for me to be less judgmental and just listen because sometimes the best way to work through a problem is just to let the person talk it out.

Another example that doesn't include me being loyal, but me being of out of the loop was when my husband knew that one of the siblings who owed us money lost their job.  Conversation went on as usual until I found out on my own. I didn't feel betrayed in anyway, rather, I admired the loyalty that was respected.

The hardest alliance for me is the one between siblings and parents. For example we've done several jail-bail outs which have turned into a one-time thing because that's an unexpected dip into our savings that doesn't always get paid back. I've kept them a secret, but usually my parents know when I'm keeping things from them. I just tell them that I can't talk about it. If they want to know ask the person directly, after that we are free to discuss and problem solve. The only exception I would make is if someone were in danger.

Dr. Lynne Durrant, one of my professors, said that dysfunctional families seek to maintain homeostasis creating their own functionality. I feel like that's what we have created, among our dysfunction is something that works for us. This is such an interesting topic to me that I'd like to hear how you and your family have established boundaries regarding loyalty or any other family dysfunction that functions. Leave a comment or link your post below.

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