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Understanding and Maintaining Individuality in Family Relationships

Updated on March 7, 2010

One of the greatest relationships difficult to break from is family relationships since they form the basis of your beliefs, attitude to life and shapes your mental reasoning from birth.

It’s from within the family that you decide what career path you want to thread, the kind of spouse you want to marry and you set your life based on the ideologies that is acceptable by and to your family.

Most family members are dependent of one another and are not complete without the other. This is due to many reasons depending on the challenges surrounding such families at various times.

Some children cannot do without their mother since they were raised by her when their father left home to start a new family with another woman while some feel they owe it to either of their parents for all they have done.

Thus living their lives based on their parents’ decisions such as marrying the kind of spouse they think is ideal for them or the kind of career they ought to pursue or the right time for them to buy a house.

Is this really right? Would it be right to say that your right to make life decisions should be given to someone else? In my opinion, the answer is NO. Therefore, there is no reason any member of your family should be in the position of dictating what works in your life or what doesn’t.

You definitely are in the position to object to opinions and beliefs that have been long formed by your family while you were young which contradicts what you now see to be true as an adult. You must be able to stand against such principles that contradict with your (new) views of life.

The challenge here is that you have idolized your family members and are now controlled by them. You might call this a love-relationship with your family but it is actually a hatred-relationship masquerading as love.

To find out if you have idolized other members of your family, simply disregard their decisions and/or choices made on your behalf or what they think is right for you and implement your personal decisions according to what you believe is right for yourself and observe their reactions.

If they let you carry on with your own personal decisions without imposing theirs on you and respecting your choices, then know that you are a free person not under the bondage of anyone but if all hell breaks loose because of your disobedience to their suggestions or choices, then you have been long imprisoned by them.

No one should be able to restrict you in anyway and neither should you restrict the choices and/or decisions of other members of your household. The fact that you are family members doesn’t make you the same as them or for you to live your lives the way your parents or siblings live theirs. You must be able to preserve your uniqueness by all means and at all cost. Stop being a slave to anyone.

So are they going to respect your decisions to reserve your right to remain uniquely independent of them? Most certainly, no! Expect some disagreements, contentions and history about how you all grew up together as one family in love. But with patience, boldness and firmness, you can draw the line. Family relationships shouldn’t become cults or some sought of idolatry where you begin to worship one another.

Being raised as part of a family shouldn’t seize from you your right to be independent of every other member. You need to understand that it might be challenging and difficult to release yourself from such connections due to the strong bond within family members but it will eventually pay off when you gain your freedom and have become independent of them.

But if not, such relationship is unhealthy and could leave a damaging scar on you if not quickly broken.

I love my family but not to the extent that I will become slave to the decisions and choices made by other members. I love to maintain my individuality and as a result I have stood my grounds on some issues that I won’t debate.

I came to the conclusion that for me to be who I am designed to be I need to be myself and not someone else by maintaining my boundaries and God-given principles even when contrary to human philosophy. So, there are many things I disagree with within my family and will never compromise even when I still consider myself to be a member of the family.

The result is they think I’m disobedient or inconsiderate and not being my brother’s keeper but that’s far from it. It’s just that I cannot stand to be influenced by decisions or choices I know is contrary to what I believe.

You need to avoid this ungodly and selfish relationship where your life - career, marriage, finances is determined by someone else. Stop worshipping parents, brothers or sisters.

They are not your God! You need to refuse to be stripped of the right to live life the way you want. Stop idolizing your parents because of the sacrifice they made or the challenge they went through because of you while you were young.

That’s why they are your parents anyway as you would have to make those sacrifices at some point in life for your children as well. Don’t let that stop you from living your life the way you believe is right.

I am not suggesting you should not be interested in other people’s opinion or to go on hurting other people’s emotions or not to be grateful; neither am I suggesting that you shouldn’t appreciate your parents for the sacrifices they have made in the past or any other member of your household but don’t deprive yourself either of what should potentially make you unique.

You need to be very discerning and at alert at all times in order to know when to make the right decisions and to remain firm. Listen to others’ opinions and suggestions about you as they have the right and freedom of speech but you are not under any obligation to live by them.

Be open to correction, however, don’t live someone else’s life or dream by being subjected to what you call love.

To stand out and maintain your uniqueness in your generation, you must strive not to be a people pleaser. Defend jealously what makes you, you.

Although your family members are individuals of the same blood with you, you are by no means the same or under any compulsion to share the same principles and values with them about life.

Rise up to be who you are designed to be. This can not be achieved by arguments or unnecessary fights but by wisdom to make known where you stand on every given matter. You need the boldness to remain firm on your beliefs and the path which you have wisely and carefully chosen for yourself.

You must be bold and courageous to effect change as a lot of pressure will be exerted upon you but with persistence, boldness and your vision ahead of you, there is an assurance of gaining your independence from such family ties or bonds.

Make sure you are not going into the same career path your parents went through because they want you to. Avoid marrying who they think is right for you; don’t fall for the prey that your spouse has to be like your father or mother because they surely can’t be.

See to it that your marriage is not a carbon copy of your parents’ if that’s not what you want your marriage to be like and if that’s what you want, inculcate those qualities that unite your parent’s marriage in your spouse. Your family shouldn’t be a dictatorship family-relationship.

I know it seem I’m on the opposite side to many opinions and lectures from various seminars and books on family relationships. Again, this is my view and opinion and I believe while some people might disagree, many will agree with me on this issue.

I’m not writing to win people over to agree on this subject but to show you the flip side of the coin. I know that not everyone is unfortunate to find themselves in this kind of family relationships but for those who have been victims of hatred masquerading as love family relationships, you need to rise up and fight for your future.

Don’t resent or get angry with any of your family members but make a decision to stand out. Launch out to run after those childhood dreams. Dare to be great. Be an achiever. Set out to be different. If it seems they are against you today, never mind, they will surely look for you tomorrow.

Once you have become who you set out to be, they will remember you are one of them and they shall surely reconcile with you.

All you need to know is that you need not be imprisoned by another man’s way or approach to life. Take time now and examine the kind of family relationship you belong.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Let me tell all of you that don't ever depend on others to get rid of worst situation its you only you who can get positivity in life.. you have to stand for yourself. If someone is trying to hurt you in any way either emotionally,sentimental, physically or may be mentally confront him the situation/person boldly. Do not make foolish mistakes do not give anybody a chance to overcome you.Just pray to God on daily basis believe you will definitely get justice.And you will see the other person realizing for what he has done to you.Life is like a vicious circle whatever you did to others will came back to you one day.If someone is trying to put you in difficult situation or trying to torture you mentally then he

      has to face the same thing one day.Be optimistic,never loose heart that's all i can say to all the sufferers this is what life is all about.Be yourself and dont change yourself for others if you think you are right on practical grounds.GUD LUCK TO ALL...GOD BLESS ALL!

    • CarolineVABC profile image


      6 years ago from Castaic

      I love this article, betteryou! I do agree with finding peace's comment: "It resonates with me and means so much to read such a novel and refreshing approach to what I believe to be a common dilemma." Familial dissensions are far more common than we would like to accept.

      It is true that sometimes, when you stand out from the crowd, it feels like there is no one with you; albeit, it feels good to be unique because as you have stated, "You must be able to preserve your uniqueness by all means and at all cost. Stop being a slave to anyone." I have a reason to believe that the conformists, deep down they envy the ones who are nonconformists and are carefree. This is not to say that I disrespect anyone else's opinion who differs from mine; withal, I have the freedom to take it or leave it and still be appreciative of other people's uniqueness. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Keep writing. God bless!

    • profile image

      yes please 

      7 years ago

      amazing article

    • profile image

      finding peace 

      9 years ago

      thank you so much for sharing this. It resonates with me and means so much to read such a novel and refreshing approach to what I believe to be a common dilemma.


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