MANIFESTO DELLA FAMIGLIA–May Peace Reign Supreme In This House

In the hustle and bustle of family life, it is inevitable that conflicts and arguments will occur from time to time.  The more kids you have, the more this is likely just because of the sheer number of personalities involved (but small families are hardly immune!).  This can be particularly difficult to manage for “the sandwich generation” . . . that group of us who are stuck between grown kids and our own parents and siblings.  We can get treated as “kids” by our parents . . . treated as an idiot by our siblings and considered a moron by our children.  It’s a wonderful life!  Trying to please everyone all the time is an impossibility.  Trying to maintain a sense of peace within yourself is equally difficult.  We in our middle age have a distinct advantage over our kids, however, in that we can see how family dynamics play out over time.  We can see . . . because we have lived . . . how small arguments and conflicts can grow into huge rifts that, over time, alienate sections of a family from each other.  We have lived the pain of this.  We have seen how brother and sister end up not speaking and how that leads to cousins not speaking and how all involved (and those on the sidelines) end up experiencing a tainted version of day to day living.  

Is this how your family is?  Is this the way you want it to be?  I put this question to the middle age crowd out there because you are the ones who are mature enough and experienced enough to see the big picture.  Kids (and I count most of you who are below the age of 30) don’t have the distance to see the big picture.  It is also a rare kid who will put their own interests and intentions secondary to a siblings (they are still vying for the emotional power that attention from mom and dad affords).  That leaves it to you to set the tone.  Our elder parents are often not psychologically sophisticated enough, or energetic enough to step in and create sweeping changes to difficult family dynamics.  It is up to you.

What I would suggest is that you put an end to your collusion with the petty arguments that your kids are involved in.  In the big scheme of things, most of the arguments don’t mean dookie.  Will it matter 100 years from now who insulted who at some party.  Will it matter 100 years from now if a debt is not repaid.  Not really . . . unless someone’s fragile ego or someone’s sense of what is right and what is wrong is so injured that communication is stopped.  Then, as noted above, cousins won’t know cousins . . . and someone will be eating Christmas dinner alone.  Is it really worth it?  Would you refuse to go to the funeral of your sibling . . . or of your sibling’s child . . . if your sibling said something that made you mad . . . or did something that really bothered you?  If you could forgive then . . . why not now when there is still time reclaim your relationship?  As Ronald Reagan said . . . ” my 20% enemy is still my 80% friend”.  If you are going to be alienated by something that is said by someone who is important to you . . . you are going to end up being alone.  ‘Cause EVERYONE will eventually piss you off.  That is just fact.  As humans, we tend to blunder through our relationships and make mistakes.  If we are not willing to apologize . . . and accept apologies . . . we are sunk.

Forgiveness is oil for the machinery of friendship.  

Without it relationships grind to a halt.

I would encourage you parents out there to insist that HOME is a safe place.  Sometimes the kids live at home.  Some are out in the world and only visit occasionally.  Regardless, the family home is neutral territory.   Conflicts and arguments that come up are discussed peacefully or put to the side during family events.  It is about spending time with each other and reminding each other how important we are too each other.  It is about maintaining those relationships despite our human blunders.  And, ultimately, it is about being humble enough to understand that we all make mistakes and we all need a double dose of forgiveness.  


In questa casa, la pace regnerà supremo

In this house, peace shall reign supreme.  All are welcome and no one shall be excluded.  Differences of opinion that will lead to argument are left at the door.  Disagreements are managed with words of kindness and support and we treat each other with respect.  Mistakes shall be forgiven, errors shall be overlooked . . . for we all make mistakes and errors in our daily lives.  All will be given what they need to the best of our abilities.  Score will not be kept.  Sides will not be taken.  Forgiveness will be served in abundance, as will love . . . laughter . . . kindness . . . and peace.


–Dan Hartman, MD

5 comments to MANIFESTO DELLA FAMIGLIA–May Peace Reign Supreme In This House

  • AMF

    beautiful – great job – well said – last two posts give much to think and pray about – thank you

  • delicious food for thought as always, dr dan! several people in my support group benefit mightily from your listening skills and your great knowledge of meds. you’re also on my own blogroll.

  • Ana

    priceless, I’m so glad I stumbled upon you by simply writing the word “irritability”

  • Marian

    Hi Dr. Dan. I really enjoyed reading this.I have been in a similar situation and have been struggling with should I apologize but then I satop myself because I didn’t do anything to them.I miss my family but do not feel compelled to do anything.Someday maybe.I should send this to them.Thank you for letting me read it.It was helpful.

  • Kim

    Dr. Dan,
    You are right on the mark !!! becuase when a death occurs you can not get back the missed time and all you are left with is regret. Life is too short, friends can get mad but they can not stay mad :)Family is family nothing to big to get over……………