Much mention is made of the “family unit” which usually means two parents and a number of children. This grouping is then treated as a single entity. There is truth in this, particularly in the early childhood years much time is spent forming a group identity. We are a family, we do this, we don’t do that. Yet as my kids enter their teens I see them beginning to take flight. They are going to be adults and form family identities of their own. What happens to the unit then? I’ve begun to think of my family as a mesh of interconnected individuals. Yes we have a group identity, but that identity is only as strong as the threads between individuals. Ultimately I can not dictate the relationship between two of my children. I can not guarantee that they will continue to have a relationship once they are no longer living where I can insist they spend time together. What I can do is try to give them tools to understand each other. I can encourage, not just the group identity, but the formation of individual relationships.
It is a lot of work. Lots and lots of work. I feel like I’ve been helping work on threads all weekend long, but the mesh is stronger than it was two days ago and that is a good thing.