do you like your family?

So it’s been awhile… My day job and well, just life sorta got in the way here the last week or so. But I promise you, friends, I am not giving up! I look forward to the weeks ahead, when I will have more time to devote to writing. I like thinking ahead and planning what stories and recipes I will share next. I like that I have a small audience following me. I like this whole thing. :) And speaking of “like,” I spent a lot of time this weekend reflecting on that little word and all its meaning. Once again, I’ve been ruminating too long… so read on with caution. The inner workings of my brain are not pretty.

I got to thinking the other day about families and the ties they hold to us. Are they really as deep and powerful as we believe them to be? I think of my own family and I know right now I’d be positively lost without them. They keep me grounded; they are my moral compass; they remind me of who I am (the best authentic version of myself) when I so often forget. And they accept me for who I am, with all of my faults and the mistakes I make, the good and the bad.

So here’s a thought: we’re supposed to love our families, but do you honestly like them? It’s a hard question to answer, and one that I think a lot of people don’t ask themselves. Do you like your family as individual people? With all their strengths and weaknesses? Do you like them for who they are? What they do? What they stand for? Do you like spending time with them? Do you like talking with them? I mean, really, do you like them???

In my case, the answer is an unequivocal YES. I like my family. I like the people they are, the people they were, the people they’ve become. My parents are my heroes and my siblings are my best friends. And I feel really, really fortunate. I like being around them and spending time with them. They are “friends” who love me no matter what.

I know some people struggle with this concept. “Well, I’m supposed to love them, but I don’t really like them.” Maybe that’s why so many families become fractured. We automatically accept our family members at face value and for the roles they play – mother, father, sister, brother – because that’s what we’re supposed to do. And yet, we honestly don’t get to know them as people, liking them for who they are. I guess it’s sort of mandatory that we love them… but we don’t necessarily have to like them.

I’ve questioned this philosophical dilemma many times over, and here’s what I believe: To truly love a family member, I mean *love* a person unconditionally, you have to like that individual on some level. And that’s a big difference. For me, it’s an easy answer. But what about you?

I think it’s sad people go their entire lives and don’t examine these very important relationships. We tolerate family members and tell them we love them, because it’s easy to talk about the love. But have you ever considered the LIKE? In the case of family, sometimes the LIKE is the tougher option of the two. It might be easy to say “I love you” to a family member, because you’re supposed to do that. But what about “I like you”? Have you ever tried that? I think that’s even more difficult… but ultimately WAY more rewarding. That little saying implies all sorts of other things: that I view you as an equal, that I consider you valuable, that I consider us ALIKE, rather than dissimilar, that I understand you, that I am partial to you, I enjoy you, that I consider us friends.

I’ve never had a problem with saying “I like you” to the ones I love. There are lots of ways to say it, too. I like to believe Mom and Dad had a direct influence on that. If more people did contemplate the relationships they have with family members, maybe we wouldn’t have so much dysfunction. Just a thought, and perhaps a naive one at that. But consider this: maybe if you honestly made the effort to know someone in your family and appreciate them for who they are – that is, liking them unconditionally – it might help with the loving part. Liking someone makes the love a whole lot stronger.

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