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Positively Young: It’s OK not to relate to relatives

‘Tis the holiday season and that often means reunions and gatherings in which family come together to celebrate their bond — whether it be strong or tenuous.

Views on politics, religion, values, child raising and money can easily create more distance than tolerance. Regardless, many reunite with family for the holidays because it’s the “right thing to do” — and, after all, they are family.

Today’s families are far more complex than ever. There are adoptive families, blended ones, multi-racial and inter-cultural. Hawaii has one of the highest rates in the nation of children being raised by grandparents. Generationally, the values of obligation, duty and commitment to family have changed.

These and other variables make it difficult to get along, much less act like a loving and close-knit family.

Estrangement is one of those topics that is not really talked about openly. Yet, it’s not as rare as you might think. It’s not always about intentional distance — it can even happen to family that live under the same roof. Sometimes it’s a slow erosion, fueled by judgment, resentment, unmet emotional needs and poor or infrequent communication.

Here are a few gifts that you can give yourself this holiday season for happier family relations.

>> Accept that it’s okay not to like a relative. Ask yourself if they weren’t your child, parent, aunty, etc., would they be your friend? It’s okay if the answer is no.

It’s natural to not care for everyone you are related to. Sometimes the journey is to learn tolerance and peace.

It’s helpful to remember though, that family is often composed of the greatest teachers in your journey. So be gracious, kind, and friendly. Learn from them.

However, don’t feel there’s something wrong with you (or them) if you secretly wish you weren’t related. You just resonate at a different vibe.

>> Consider a different point of view. In a recent study in the U.S. and Britain, adult kids were questioned about what they wanted from their parents. Adult children want relationships that were closer, more positive and more loving.

In addition, they wished their moms were less critical and judgmental. Adult children also wished their fathers were more interested in their lives and would stand up to other family members, including spouses or partners. Relationships require work to be successful and understanding and meeting each other’s needs can be done.

>> Honor your family of friends. “Blood is thicker than water” is a well-known saying but it evolved from this: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” Find time and ways to honor your family of friends who do share your values and interests. The bond with the people we choose is stronger than the people that life chooses for us as family.

The holiday season is a great time to look at the relationships and estrangements that are in your life for better or for worse. Both are great teachers. How you find peace is your choice.


Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit YourHappinessU.com


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