Families are strengthened when members help each other in taking care of small matters. It has been my experience that problems never go away if we ignore them, but, if not taken care of properly, they can become gigantic problems.
My husband and I recently spent a few weeks away from our home and left our property under the care of our son, daughter and their spouses. I must say that I am very pleased with the overall care they give our home while I am away. While we were gone this time, a small matter was taken care of before it became a major problem. The water line leading from our water supply to the ice maker in the refrigerator began to leak. We have no idea when the leak began. All we know is that Jon checked the house on Thursday, and Rick checked the house on Friday. Neither of them noticed anything out of order. Jennifer and Rick came on Saturday evening, and she discovered the rug in front of the kitchen sink to be soaked with water. Rick stopped the leak, and then they cleaned up the water and washed and dried all the towels. Because someone was checking the house on a regular basis, the leak was discovered before it did any damage. A small problem stayed small because it was not ignored.
The same principle applies to the relationships within a family. Families are made up of individuals, none of whom are exactly the same and none of whom are perfect. All families experience problems of one kind or another as they travel through life together, but a willingness to talk about concerns and work together can bring solutions before problems grow larger.
I remember a time when I discovered that my middle school age daughter was piercing her own ears numerous times. I had already taken her to have her ears pierced once, but she apparently thought that she needed more holes. The problem seemed to be that she was feeling unaccepted in her peer group and wanted to fit in better. We had a long discussion about the problem and came up with a solution: I would take her shopping for new clothes, and she would take the extra earrings out of her ears. The problem was apparently solved because we had no more struggles over it. I must say that my daughter grew up into a beautiful young woman who is an example for good to all who know her and an exceptional mother to my grandchildren.
My mother-in-law was known as the peace maker among her siblings because her relationship with each brother and sister was good. Each of her siblings knew that she would listen to their problem and help them to the extent that she could, and she became like a second mother to her younger sister and brothers. There were problems among some of the other siblings, and these problems caused much tenseness in the family. Most of the problems had to do with someone saying something that somebody else didn't like. Instead of discussing the problem and finding a solution, both parties would carry a grudge toward the other person for months and sometimes years. I don't remember hearing of any serious problems, but I certainly heard about a lot of people taking offense by something someone else said. As a result of all these petty problems, siblings that dearly loved each other ceased to have good relationships with each other.
I feel frustrated and sometimes even upset because my children often make comments about one child or another being more favored or less loved than the others. I love all of my children dearly and have always tried to treat them as nearly equal as possible. None of my children are exactly alike, and all have required individual treatment. I tried the best I could to meet the needs of each child, but there were times when they didn't tell me their concerns or I didn't understand how something was affecting them. Better communication with each other might have brought more solutions before the problems grew. I am pleased that my children love me, want me to be a part of their lives, and trust me with their children. I am very pleased that they dearly love each other, enjoy being together and get along well. I am also pleased with the way they also love and care for each other's children as they do their own.
I remember an experience that happened when I was about four or five years old. I packed a few belongings and told my mother that I was going to run away from home because I was adopted and not loved. I was too young to understand that a family with twelve children had no need to adopt any of them. My mother couldn't help laughing a little before saying something similar to: "Isn't it amazing that my children who most feel adopted are the ones who look most alike?" We then discussed whatever it was that was troubling me, and I began to feel better. I thought past the point of leaving home: Where would I sleep? What would I eat? How would I stay warm? I decided that I was in a pretty good place and better stay home. My parents have both passed away long years ago, but my siblings are some of my best friends. We love to be together and help each other out whenever we can.
Some concerns are bigger and more serious than others, but family members build stronger relationships when they work together to find solutions for their problems before they become impossible to solve.