Are You Misunderstood By Your Family Members?
Oh Dear God! Harriet, He/She is NOTHING Like Us! Oh God in Heaven, Why!
You are among strangers. At least that is how you feel. You know that you are different from these people. You sense that sometimes from birth. When you ask questions and state opinions that you believe to be reasonable and intelligent in your mind, your family sometimes rebuke you for not being normal and oftentimes weird.
Your family members cannot further understand as to why you are a certain way when the other family members are of the same consensus. You are seldom appreciated for the unique person that you are. You are expected either overtly or covertly to conform to the family groupthink consortium. You are constantly told that you should be like so-and-so much to your utter dismay.
The family unit is such an intricate one. It is often presumed that family members are to have a common ground whether it is characteristics, beliefs, ideology, and/or other related matters. The family usually represents cohesion and united front. There are unwritten rules in families that each member is to sublimate and suppress his/her needs for the betterment of the whole unit.
Families ascertain that their members conform in one way or another. This is because it is beneficial for each family member conform to the collective familial consensus. After all, they would declare we are a familial unit and no one does such a thing in this family. Another line many families use is that this is tradition and who are YOU to question family tradition!
Well, some family members are placable pleasers and conformists. They are others who cannot, do not, and will not conform. If you are such a family member, you know who you are! You were often dubbed the hardheaded one, the strong willed one, or as Dr. Wayne W. Dyer is apt to put it "the scurvy elephant". You are the one who questions authority. In other words, you will not do something because an authority figure says so. You must be presented with a logical reason why this idea and/or instruction should be followed.
If you had supportive and enlightened parents who encouraged and appreciated your uniqueness and nonconformist attitude, you are truly lucky. However..........yes, there is always a however, in most families, you are more or less considered "the difficult child". Your parents often wondered to themselves where did THEY go wrong when they have a child such as yourself. Your parents' main goal was to make you obedient and conform to their and society's modus operandi.
If you are a female, your nonconformist and uniqueness was even more problematic to your parents. There is still a subconsious and underlying consensus that girls are supposed to be docile, pliable, self-effacing, and obedient. I remember as a child, I was always questioning my parents in one way or another. When my father told me to do something, if I thought it to be unreasonable, he would tell me that for a girl, I was hardheaded.
As you see, my parents were quite conformist and expected me to be THAT way. Wrong! However, I am digressing but girls are raised to be conformist and pliable because that is what a "feminine" woman should be. I was also a trial for my mother who expected unquestioning obedience from me. I believed in questioning rules and dictates, not merely following orders. I would assert my opinions to my mother at every turn. Of course, my parents and I had discussions from my early childhood. I often was quite vocal in my opinions but still my parents expected unquestioning obedience.
Again I am digressing. What I am clarifying is that girls are expected by family members to be more conforming to the family consensus than boys are. Girls who are deemed to be highly individualistic, nonconforming, and assertive are often told to become nice girls. Nice girls are more easily controlled that the girls who are more individualistic, nonconforming, and assertive. If you were more individualistic, nonconforming, and assertive, you were often pressured by family members(if not immediate family members, then extended ones) to become more acceptably feminine. This is because in subconsciously in many families, girls are considered to be "more softer" hence more controllable and marriageable. Many families actually decry the more individualistic, nonconformist, and assertive girls because they are not considered, in essence, controllable and marriageable. In many families no matter how modern it is, it is the ultimate goal of the female members to be married.
You were often considered stubborn by your parents and other family members because you innately had your own opinions and moral/ethical structure. Even as a child, you were wise beyond your years. Because of your precociousness and maturity, your family members could not completely fathom you. You were often told to stay in a child's place although you were often wiser than your adult family members.
Oftentimes, because of your unworldliness and knowing, you were never content to being an average child. As a child, your intellect was often at the gifted and/or genius level. You clearly were not happy to be grouped with similarly aged children. You were intellectually mature. You were often told to be like other children your age. While other children in your family circle were content with typical age related activities and hobbies, you preferred more evolved and complex activities and hobbies. Your parents often or not did not know what to do with you and/or found suitable activities to keep you occupied. Mostly, you created your own activities and hobbies, being left to your own devices.
You also have likes and preferences which is far more different than that of your family members. You may love opera while they are soap opera and wrestling devotees. You delight in Shakespearean prose and THE NEW YORK TIMES while they read SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and THE NEW YORK POST. Your diet is macrobiotic Asian food while the rest of your family eat McDonalds. Your family wonder where did you get your so-called preferences from as no one in the family has these "idiosyncrasies."
You may stand out in your family because your characteristics are diametrically opposed to theirs. You may be an introvert among extroverts, an intellectual among athletes, a creative/artistic type among more practical people, a liberal among conservatives, a genius among the average, and/or a metaphysical spiritual among the more traditionally religious. In many families, it is their premeditated goal to make you "more normal" and "more acceptable" to their and societal collective consensus.
If you are a nontraditional male who is more sensitive and empathetic, you also have a problem if you were born into a family where males are expected to be insensitive and tough. Like the girl who is more assertive, the sensitive boy is up against the societal dictum which often derides nontraditional and/or nonconformist gender role behaviors. Boys who are more sensitive and empathetic by nature are told to be men, especially by their fathers and other male family members. If he does not follow the family dictum, he is denigrated and often called pejorative masculine names.
Maybe you are a male who prefers more creative and artistic pursuits while the other male members of your family, both immediate and extended, revelled in and relished sports and other traditional male pursuits. Your father and other male relatives cannot understand why you are so divergently different than they are. Your male members often told you that they were going to make you into what was THEIR definition of a man in one way or another! You just looked at them nonplussed and often went your own way.
In many families, family members considered different were often the unfavored ones. You were also viewed as a threat to the family status quo. You are rocking the family boat so to speak. Your family members are thinking to themselves how dare he/she do this and/or be this way.
In addition to the abovementioned, you are seen as the disturber of family tradition. However, your family members may be subconsciously jealous of you because you elected to take a different road less traveled than they would ever venture to do so. Many of the family members want to venture into a different modus operandi but are afraid to do for fear of familial disapproval. For many family members, this disapproval is often the kiss of death and they would rather be miserable, living the live that their families slate out for them than to be actually happy living their own authentic lives.
Many family members use guilt and manipulation to make so-called errant family members conform to their familial consensus. While some family members do not desire being the odd/outside family member out, others relish in their unconventionality. These family members realize that to be authentic persons, they must be true to themselves even if they concur disapproval from other family members. So what, they think- it is themselves they must be content with.
Family members considered the odd/outside ones out are the ones who are wildly successful. They usually venture into areas and arenas that other family members do not dare try. They also know that rejection and disapproval is par of the course in life situation as they received their first disapproval from family members.
These family members are also the least likely to be pressured into being part of the crowd. Their personality dictates that it is not good to be part of the herd but to be an individual. They know that being part of the herd and/or crowd exacts a high price which is oftentimes negative to say the least. Many parents and family members often decry unconventional family members; however, oftentimes, these family members make them the most proud.
In summation, there are family members who are entirely different from the rest of their family either characteristically or ideologically. While in a few families, these differences are encouraged and celebrated, in most families, it is either barely tolerated or at the most, squashed. The main emphasis in many families is to have a cohesive unit. This means that the family must present a united front which means that oftentimes uniqueness is not encouraged.
Many families want each member to be as similar as possible. Family members who express their uniqueness and individuality are told to be like everyone else. If the family member wishes not to conform to the familial consensus, he/she is often considered the difficult and/or the odd/outside one out. There are family members who use guilt and manipulation to make the "errant" family member conform.
Family members who are nonconformists and individualists have a resilience and strength in living an authentic life against all odds. They are also their own persons who do not and will not follow the crowd for the sake of belonging and/or approval. They are also the ones who will be highly successful as they have the courage to achieve their dreams. They are no stranger to rejection as the word no does not deter them as they heard from their families. To those who are the odd one out in their respective families, rejoice and be glad as they are truly authentic people in their own right!
The Odd Outside Family Member Out
Were you misunderstood by your family, both immediate and extended?
- Ten Ways Indicating That You're Either the Black She...
Family means love, unity, and together. In families, people are united under one front. However, there are family members who STAND OUT for one reason or another! You know who you are!
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams