Thursday, 28 November 2013

Question 15: What's your Relationship to your Family?

Curious about the Parents
I love meeting my friends' parents. It's not like I want to hang out with them; I'm just curious about who they are. Sometimes it feels like I don't know and understand a person on a deeper level until I've met the parents. Things fall into place. The relationship is also reversed. I don't think that someone truly knows me until that person has met my family.
Escaping the Parents
However, it was a relief for me to escape my hometown when I was nineteen and meet people who had no idea about who my parents were. I wanted to break free and not to be associated with the safe small-town life. And speaking for myself, I really don't want to judge anyone because of her or his parents but when I've known a friend for a long time, I find it exciting to meet that person's family. No matter what you do, you'll always be shaped by your family conditions.
Different Behaviour Depending on the Situation
During the Swenglish project, I got the chance to meet some of the participants' parents or siblings. Sometimes the real picture didn't match the stories I'd been told. Someone who'd been described as mean turned out to be really nice, but it just goes to show that people can behave differently depending on who they spend time with.
Compulsory Visits
Among the Swedish people 13 of 15 were in touch with their parents every week. Some spoke on the phone every day, others did a compulsory weekly visit. Among the people I stayed with in England only 5 of 15 were in touch with their parents every week, but that was probably due to the fact that 6 of 15 had parents who either lived in a different country or were no longer alive. (By being in touch, I mean speaking on the phone/Skype or meeting up in person; I haven't considered other contact via the internet as I find it dubious whether a "like" on Facebook could count as being in touch.)
Better Relationships with Friends
What's interesting to note is that some people who spoke to their parents several times a week, didn't experience their relationship as close while some people who spoke to their parents less frequently described their relationship as very good. There were also people who had completely cut the contact with a parent or a sibling. Several people mentioned that they had better and deeper relationships with their friends. (I haven't included love partnerships in this question.)
"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in reach other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof."
- Richard Bach

This study is by no means scientific, the answers are based on interviewing 15 people in England and 15 people in Sweden, aged 22-59. Look out for the next question: What's your attitude towards relationships, sex and marriage?

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