23 August 2013

Is there such thing as a ‘normal’ family?

I have been frequently told that the population I work with is only a portion of the actual world, and that the families I see are of the 10% that are experiencing mental health concerns, typically in their children, and that not all families are going through this kind of experience. And that those other families are normal. But then again what is ‘normal’?

Is a normal family the family where dad works 9-5, mom stays home and children are graceful and obedient? They eat dinner together each night and have family activities together? They are able to pay the bills and put their children in activities? Well, it turns out that the ‘normal’ family, or the ideal family for some, is actually abnormal in our society.

If we judged families by what we would consider the ideal, 96% of families would be considered dysfunctional in some sort of manner, making 4% of families living the ideal family lifestyle.

The definition of normal as a noun is something that is the average, usual, or typical. Why is it that what we consider normal in a family isn’t actually the usual family, the typical family or the average family?

Why do we strive daily for a dream that some of may not achieve, or only may attain for a period of time?

I believe that families can achieve that desired state of normalcy, but I also believe life is meant to be challenging and that it throws the occasional curve ball. We go through tough times like job loss, poor grades, unpaid bills, societal demands, health issues, jobs away from home and other events that disrupt our daily lives and routine and impact our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

I do feel the need to distinguish between trials and challenges in our life that are unpredictable, and the trials and challenges that are self-inflicted due to choices.

I also feel that families need to be less judging of themselves through their expectations, and come to love and accept who they are and what they can do. We sometimes get caught up in what we can’t do and our weaknesses that we forget to see our strengths. We especially get caught up in comparing ourselves and our family to others.

As individuals and families we have immense potential, and maybe in order to reach our potential we need to have periods in our life that build character. So let’s be proud to be part of the 96%.

And maybe those families that I see are actually normal, average, usual and typical. They are just like any other family, experiencing a challenging point in life.