By Kenneth Justice
“Kenneth, I’m sixty years old and my siblings still treat me like I’m a little kid!”
Yesterday I was having coffee with a good friend of mine who recently returned from a family function involving his mother and all seven of his siblings. While his brothers and sisters are generally ‘cordial’ toward him……none of them ever demonstrate much respect towards him which is odd since he is the most accomplished of all the family.
—-) He has an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree (he’s the only one of the siblings to have a college degree)
—-) He was a leading professional in his industry for the past 30 years
—-) He recently retired and is a well-respected person in the community at large
“Kenneth, you would think that by the time you reach the big 6 – 0 that your family would start looking at you with a little more respect….but nope; there must have been at least half a dozen times yesterday where my sisters said things to me that were really nasty….they just weren’t the kinds of things you say to people; but they think they get away with it because I’m their little brother” he said
I don’t want to repeat exactly what his siblings said to him because that would betray their anonymity but suffice to say; if you have any relatives in your own life who have said things that weren’t very nice, then I’m sure you can imagine the types of things that were spoken.
It all causes me to wonder why families can often be so cruel to each other. You would think that because you related to someone and because you grow up with them under the same roof; that they would demonstrate the most love and graciousness toward you as you get older….yet the opposite is so often the case.
To borrow the colloquialism, “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”, and from what I understand the implication behind the saying is that some people are born into families with siblings that aren’t very nice…..but as you get older you get to choose your friends; and more specifically you get to choose friends that you actually like.
As with so many issues in life I’m often left with more questions than answers,
—-) Why do some people have relatives that treat them so poorly?
—-) What’s the point in being nasty toward your siblings
—-) Isn’t life simply too short for all the vitriol?
As I was talking to my friend I was reminded of the biblical passage in which Jesus returns to his home town of Nazareth; Jesus was strongly rejected by his relatives and his hometown. Without getting distracted with the religious undertones of the passage; I think it is fascinating that here is this dude who is the most popular person everywhere he goes;
—) He hangs out with the homeless people
—) He hangs out with women that are despised by the suburbanites
—) He hangs out with the people that the rich people loathe and neglect
Here’s this dude that is an exceptional person, and everywhere he goes throngs of people come out to see him…..but when he gets to his hometown; his family and neighbors treat him like s**t.
And thousands of years later in the here-and-now, my friend, and countless other people experience a similar phenomenon as Jesus; co-workers, business associates, and friends treat you really nice……but your own family tends to treat you like a second-class citizen.
I know of a family therapist, a master’s degree couple’s counselor who hasn’t talked to her parents in thirty years because of how overbearing they are; she’s been married for more than twenty years, has a successful marriage and a very successful counseling practice yet her own parents still treat her like s**t.
Of course, not everyone comes from a family like this; and for those who have loving, gracious, and harmonious experiences with your relatives; you probably should be thankful and grateful for what you have in life. Life is definitely strange at times and I definitely don’t have all the answers. And as I get a little bit older each year I’m learning to realize how thankful I am for the friends and loved ones in my life who appreciate me and are always there for me no matter what.
Time for my morning coffee,
P.S.—-) My Drinking in the Culture Tour resumes this SATURDAY in Atlanta! I’m visiting 100 coffee houses this year all around the Western World to meet with fellow bloggers, readers and everyone else in-between.
During the month of March I will be in Atlanta, Chicago, and Pittsburgh…..check out my homepage for a complete list of dates and upcoming locations. I would love to have coffee with you!