Recently I was asked to complete a very interesting exercise. I was told to draw my family graphically, without using words in a pictorial representation of my family relationships. I had never thought of my family in terms of a working system.
I began to speak to my teenagers about how their family could be represented on a piece of paper using symbols and pictures. We slowly began to compare our 8 by 11 pieces of paper. We then realized that:
Every family is a cluster of smaller systems that make up one big supersystem.
For example, if you have some free time, go through this exercise:
1) Draw a shape representing your family. What are three words you would use to describe your family as a whole?
Example: Fun, Loud, Complex
2) Now draw the individual relationships within your family and three corresponding words.
Example: Father-Son, (Contentious, deep, volatile)
Sister-Brother (Sweet, caring, fun)
Husband-Wife (Loving, understanding, supportive)
Mother-Daughter (Unpredictable, loving, hopeful)
Mother-Son (Explosive, distant, guilty)
Father-Daughter (Adoring, mutual, respectful)
This is a great way to take a step back from some of the relationships in your home and identify where you would like to strengthen bonds. It also reminded me of how complicated family super systems can be and how delicate (and different) each relationship is.
Flkr image from edenpictures