What Does Family Mean To You

What Does Family Mean To You

My Family Reunion Speech 17.06.2023

The definition of family in the Oxford Dictionary: all the descendants of a common ancestor.

The Britannica says, A group united by marriage, blood, or adoption ties, constituting a single household with parent-child relationship being the essence.

Perhaps most important, it provides for emotional and psychological security, particularly through the warmth, love, and companionship that living together generates between spouses and, in turn, between them and their children.

I spoke at last year’s reunion about the importance of a family, but this year I will not lecture anyone; I will approach my subject rationally. I have extensively studied my behaviour and the causes of my problems and reconditioned my mind to speak about the ‘tormented mindset’. This is heartfelt and thought-provoking and may not resonate with anyone. This is my truth.

The word family falls loosely from our lips without meaning other than being related to each other. What are the positive things we know about each other?

I say positive because people tend to look for the negative in others.

What is a ‘nuclear family’?

People were too proud to admit that their family lives were unmanageable due to toxic behaviours.

A healthy family should be a ‘safe haven’ for everyone within the family system. Individuals should feel comfortable expressing their needs, think that everyone in their family has their best interests at heart, and be willing to grow and change to meet future hardships and deprivations.

Dysfunctional families are the opposite of healthy families. They lack a desire to grow and change and are rigid in their ways. Family members often feel unsafe expressing themselves honestly as they fear creating a conflict. As a result, they are more likely to hide their vulnerability, which eventually affects their emotional life of building healthy relationships.

The problem is that we adopt the learned behaviours and punishments from our ancestors (not thinking for ourselves) and refuse to make changes, which can negatively impact our children’s lives.

The weirdness of the situation is that we, as children, were set against abusive behaviours, but we can change how we behave towards our children.

There was no manual, and there will never be a practical manual, as every child is unique and different. What may work for one does not work for another and may result in rebellion. It is our responsibility to do what we believe to be right.

I have no extended family unit of my own for many reasons, but I have been blessed with the knowledge that most of you in this room are related to me in some way and for that, I give my gratitude to God. And for those who cannot attend, I know you would of if you could, and you are truly missed.

Going through experiences in life, we sometimes have unrelated people in our circles whom we adopt as part of our tribe because of the love and loyalty they have shown us throughout our journey.

You can argue with me and say that ‘they are not blood’, but I have met many people outside these rooms who have treated me well and accepted me. People in my fellowship have made me feel like a family member for almost five years because they have looked at the similarities, not the differences.

The proverb ‘blood is thicker than water’ is often taken out of context. We all have views on the word ‘family’ as actions are more believable than words. No one owes you anything.

We all have our personalities and characteristics. We all have our qualities and defects. You may be raised in the same home or environment it does not mean you will present the same behaviours.

Some are selfless, empathetic, forgiving, and honest, they have the greatest gift as they make peace with themselves, but this still becomes a cursed quality as they are likely to be taken for granted.

The other side of the balance is the arrogant, dishonest, resentful, ignorant, and self-centred people who will never find that balance because they will never be fulfilled as they know it all and want it all. That is the common denominator today.

Once you make an honest inventory of yourself, you can try to find a balance, but you must be willing to embrace positive change.

I cannot judge you for the good or bad, as I have made many avoidable mistakes and lived a life full of resentments. Through prayer and meditation, I realised that many of my problems were my failure to move on and wallow in misery and self-pity. This imprisoned my mind and kept me from the important years of my life, and I became a late achiever. But throughout it all, I am here with lived experience.

I recognised my unhealthy behaviour, my defects and have made amends, but it is something that I must consistently do. I cannot become complacent. Every day, I have written an inventory of the people I may have wronged through my bad human behaviours and pray that I can keep on top of it.

Today I can be honest, and if I have offended anyone, please do not be afraid to tell me, as I am willing to write it. Your real criticism will not offend me, as I am mature enough to do what is right. No one likes to acknowledge their defects, so they remain stagnant in their growth.

A family is what you make of it. You can reach out in other ways if you don’t see each other. I’m sure you all have smartphones and greet each other now and again with love and congratulations.

Every day is a day of thanks, gratitude, respect and love for all of my tribe.

Family is not only blood relatives but are those who continue to be there for us throughout life’s journey.

In everything, there must be a balanced.

Natalie Bleau

Scripture of Balance

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