03 DECEMBER 2015
I am very thankful for my family today. I was born into a small family on both patriarchal and matriarchal sides, which depending on your view, was either exceedingly good fortune, or a world rather lacking in automatic playmates and feuds.
Nevertheless, all family members were and are extremely reliable with a good sense of humour and very loving – in their own unique way (read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman). With highly creative parents, I was brought up in a home where spending all day making something was the norm and whether genetic and/or nurtured, both my sister and I continue to enjoy many different creative pursuits. In addition, the household had a strong work ethic and was full of action. With full-time careers, I cannot recall either my Mum or Dad ever sitting about idly doing nothing. Indeed, I am grateful that my Mum spent weekends in the kitchen baking delicious treats, with occasional help from two mini-Delia Smiths (it was pre-Nigella) and that immediately following work one day, my Dad thought nothing of knocking up a luxury hutch (in one of his four man-caves!) for the rabbit that he had rescued.
As such, this steady, warm family, tribal environment and regular positive feedback provided my brain with the essential perception of safety required for me to grow up being in what is known in neuroscience terms, as a towards state. Recent research highlights that this condition of the brain is more conducive to learning, curiosity, cooperation and stable emotional regulation. In addition, my family is very social which reflects one of the brain’s driving forces. When growing up, my sister and I were viewed as adequate stand-ins for serving staff for my parent’s many dinner parties. We got to partake in grown-up conversation (zzz!) whilst ferrying to and from the kitchen, a dizzying amount of dishes and plates. Not surprisingly, this activity has been passed onto my willing nieces and I have witnessed the sheer delight and independence that only carrying a stack of dessert bowls can bring!
However, I am also grateful that disagreements were expected and debate was actively encouraged. Unless this involved either the decision to eat Satsumas or going to a nightclub*. Having the courage to speak my mind, stand up for myself and be rather autonomous was fostered around the nightly family dinner table chat, although if The Archers was on the radio, silence was demanded.
Living in different parts of England now, we may not see each other every day or even each month, however my family and extended family communicate every week, remain close and we are always together at Christmas. We have good relationships**, despite having different personalities, beliefs and lifestyles. Thank you, to my loving family.
*If you are under thirty years old: nightclub is a club. Yes, we went out “nightclubbing” when I was allowed – mostly after I left home. A club was also known much more exotically as a discotheque.
** Reading this they may decide otherwise.
Image: Evan Esar/ posted by deaconmike