Are families all sunshine and roses?

I know a lot of people here don’t get on with their families at all, and would be happy never to see them again. But for those who do still maintain relations with their parents and siblings, are they pretty easy relationships, that are mostly fun and stress-free, or do you have to make lots of allowances and accomodations? Like my mum, for instance, she is used to being in charge, and if she has decided, say that we are going to eat out on the verandah, then that is what is going to happen, unless you have a really good reason not to. She is just used to being the boss. I don’t give my kids chocolate very much, but she will, even though she knows I don’t like it, basically just because she wants to. It doesn’t bother me too much, and I just think of it as her little quirk. My brother, though, gets really annoyed, and won’t bring his kid to visit, because he thinks Mum is being disrespectful. And she is, I guess.

My other brother is really argumentative, and will play devil’s advocate just for the sake of it. It does get tedious sometimes. But he is lots of fun to have around, and is always there to lend a hand when you need something, so I can overlook his flaws. My brother can’t, or won’t, though. They always end up having huge fights, and he doesn’t want to see him any more.

I guess I’m rambling, but I just wonder if my brother is right, and I shouldn’t put up with this shit from family members, or if it is normal for relationships to not be 100% smooth. What are your relationships with your family like?

No, family is often the hardest people to get along with, even in happy families. All of mine are on perfectly good terms. We all live at least a two hours’ drive from each other, though, and never visit for more than a couple of days at a time. Partially because we DO love each other, it’s way too easy to hurt each others’ feelings.

No, like Sattua said, they can be the worst to deal with. My family can be pretty controlling and overly-religious, just to name two things that make our interactions difficult. But for us, it’s still worth the effort over all the problems, so we hang in there. For others, I can completely understanding divorcing yourself from them. You just have to figure out what’s most important to you.

In my family, pretty much, yeah. In most other families, probably not.

Most of my family has passed on or moved away and this makes me really sad. I try hard not to romanticize the past but I have this idea that we were all really happy together. Every Sunday we all gathered together at my grandparents for lunch and usually hung around until dinner. My grandma always made a roast or fried chicken, good southern style veggies and cornbread and a dessert or two. At one point most of us had dogs so we’d bring them too and they’d all play together in the big back yard.

Seems so lovely and peaceful to think about now that their gone.

But in truth my grandfather was a southern version of Archie Bunker. There was compassion but it was waaaay down deep underneath the racism, the bigotry, the insults and the explosive temper. My grandmother was much like Edith Bunker but not nearly as charming. My mother was a darling but she was apparently the shame of the family with her divorce and two kids so my grandparents treated her like a child. My aunt and uncle would come to visit every few months and the uncle was a jerk. My aunt was cool; and by that I mean I never felt close, she was cool towards us all. My brother just wanted to be away from us all so he stopped coming when I was young. And honestly there were times when I hated going. I hated them all and I hated my grandmother making me feel guilty. If you weren’t sick you came, and if you didn’t you got in trouble. Plus we always had to lie to avoid conflict. And one time my grandfather and I actually got physical in an argument (He kicked me) so I didn’t visit for over two years.

And yet I’d give my right arm to have them all back again.

Tolstoy wrote “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

The last part is true, in a sense. When I meet two happy families I’ll report back on the first part.

I count myself very lucky. I have two brothers and a sister and we are all very easy-going.
We might not talk to each other for weeks at a time but when we do, we are always glad to talk and pretty much pick up where we left off.
I can never recall having any major problems with any of them, and I would happily spend time with any of them…going out for a drink or meal or whatever.

I think this is how our family has always been. We don’t live in each other’s pockets and we don’t feel the need to speak regularly. They are nice people who keep themselves to themselves.
One thing that makes me trust them is the fact that they never gossip to me about anyone else in the family. Never any snidiness. Very tolerant and that’s me to a “T” as well.

I guess we are well matched and supportive. We give each other the sort of space that we’d like for ourselves and it just seems to work. I think I am very lucky.

My family is awesome. We all get along.

It was only recently that we realized how lucky and rare that is. I guess we all just sort of assumed that other families are just like ours.

No family issues to report here. I get on just fine with my parents and my wife’s parents and my wife could report the same.

My family is far from the bestest, but the Bros and I have a good relationship - based partly on knowing when to give each other space and when and how to tell each other “stop that now”.

Letting the Bros team up at table games is… unwise. Littlebro can’t draw to save his life, but while playing Pictionary Middlebro has been known to guess “a martini” from a single oval (yeah, it was the olive; no, Littlebro never got to draw the glass). Middlebro’s wife used to be jealous that her husband’s best team-up was with his brother and not her (her team-up with him has eventually gotten much better, but still not to the level the Bros have).

My grandmother has spent more than a month at Mom’s, including Christmas: she was amazed by our interactions, specially things like seeing me change the way Middlebro gave orders to his son with two lines at the right time (she hadn’t seen us together except for family banquets in over 20 years). But it’s taken work to get that way, and over 30 years (we’re 42, 36 and 34).

That’s us, too. I was flabbergasted to learn that everybody wasn’t like us - as a college student I just could hardly get my head around the way some people treat each other.

Not only do my brother and sisters and I all get along, we are very supportive of each other in times of need: when my sister was run out of New Orleans by Katrina, she and her family lived a year in a rental my brother owned. My older sister, her husband and my brother later helped them replace the shingles on the NO house (did the work themselves). When my brother needed a little boost to his assets to qualify for a house loan, my other sister loaned him money to put into a CD for a year.

That stuff is priceless.

My family is like Novelty Bobble’s, except that it’s just my sister and I, our mom, and each of our respective spouses. We’re all pretty mellow, we either agree on topics or don’t discuss them much, Mom is fine with both of us not wanting to have kids and thinks we picked great husbands, etc.

My inlaws are absolutely gobsmacked that we can go for weeks without talking, but really, if nothing major is going on we’re fine to just catch up here and there. I know some of my inlaws think that we must not love each other much or be very close, but compared to their forced version of family, I prefer it. You’re expected to spend every holiday with them and not your own family, you have to call weekly at least, and my father-in-law regularly picks a “Bad Son/Daughter” choice to bitch about to the others for being insufficiently attentive to him and my mother-in-law. They cut each other down, and use gossip about another sibling to deflect their father’s cross-examination about their lives and why aren’t they measuring up to some arbitrary standard. I don’t like talking about any of my friends or family to my father-in-law or else he’ll start criticizing them and/or making fun of their misfortune, so I just say they’re “fine” and provide no details.

I’m 45 years old.

I get along well with my parents (and always have). But, I was the antithesis of a “problem child” – I was smart, I studied, and I rarely needed much discipline. I live out of state from them now, but we talk at least once a week.

That said, my parents are getting up in years (my father is 77, my mother 70), and they have health issues, as most people of that age do (both are cancer survivors, my mother has always had other health issues, and my father is starting to show signs of dementia). The thing is, they don’t like to tell me about these things, because they know I worry. That’s a point of frustration.

I get along reasonably well with my sister (3 years younger than me), but she has a lot of issues. She’s never had a job for more than a couple of years, has serious issues with focusing herself (I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a learning disorder), and has some significant mental / emotional problems (panic disorder, among other things). She’s never married, but has had several long-term relationships with guys who couldn’t commit (and weren’t exactly motivated world-beaters anyway). So, y’know, I love her, I try to give her emotional support, but she’s kind of a mess.

And, yet, compared to a lot of people I know, I actually have a pretty good family. We do talk. We do get along with one another.

I wouldn’t say everything is perfect all the time, but my family is generally pleasant to be around. We help each other (that’s kind of the highest commandment in our family) and like each other to varying degrees.

This is how it is for me as well. Almost all female members of my family use manipulation as a form of communication, but it’s something worth grinning and bearing most of the time. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t call them on it when they are out of line, I do. But there’s also a lot I simply don’t talk about, look past, or deal with for the sake of keeping peace.

My SO’s family gets along wonderfully well, and it amazes me. The elder son married, and she and that marriage cause a lot of friction, but all of the elders still get along and there’s never any fighting, and it stuns me that everyone gets along during the holidays. My family fights all the time, so it took me a long time to understand his. And his family supports him as an adult, and wants him to be independent, and listens to his opinion! I can’t tell you how stunning that is - in my family I am always the child and thus no one ever listens to my opinion or experience; if I say something, I am talking out of turn or being disrespectful. My SO says something from his experience to his family and they listen.


With whom DON’T you have to make allowances and accomodations?

Not that you should make every allowance and accomodate everything. Finding the right balance is part of being an adult.

My family gets along pretty well. I mean, it’s not perfect, everyone finds something annoying about each person, but we don’t have any nasty feuds or anything. My extended family doesn’t get together too often though since my grandparents passed away, but my immediate family is very close. Hell, my brother and sis-in-law solve the family holiday issue by just having both sides over (both small immediate families). I see my sis-in-law’s mom and sisters as much as I see my extended blood family.

In my family we all get along pretty well. We are all really different, but also pretty laid-back and we have fun. Of course we don’t always agree or anything, but we’re not into drama either. I feel very fortunate in my family.

My husband’s family–we get along with his one brother great and see a lot of them. But it seems like things have kind of fragmented otherwise. His parents are difficult–good folks, but there have been some real strains in the last couple of years, and there is not a lot of contact between all the siblings and the parents. It’s kind of a bummer.

No, it’s not all sunshine and roses, but my stress levels with my family is generally lower than with most other people. Maybe one or two of the whole bunch I can do without, but being politely distant and avoiding or short-circuiting some topics is a worthwhile skill to develop.

There are some feuds on one side of the family, pretty nasty ones, but I don’t get pulled in. It helps not to give a rat’s ass.