Photography task: Silhouette
Location: Turku, Finland
Camera setting: Silhouette
I see family as quite a flexible, ever changing bundle of relationships. A concept that changes its form and appearance with time. For most people family is the core unit; mum, dad, children. But for me family is a much larger unit; my family unit includes grand parents, cousins, uncles and aunts as well. And couple of my best friends too!
But no matter how big or small or what form your family may be, the basics are always the same:
At the beginning of our lives we’re obviously completely dependent on our parent(s). We can’t move, eat or function in any way without a guardian’s assistance. But when a child starts to walk, and its brain starts to develop, things start to tumble uncontrollably and by the time a child enters school there’s only so much control a parent can have on the child’s development and on what kind of an adult that child becomes.
I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be for parents to let their children try out their own limits and make their own mistakes. My parents were brave enough to let me struggle through life as I chose to, and I now thank them for that! To be honest, I don’t think they would’ve ever had any other choice, than letting me make my own mistakes, considering how stubborn I’ve always been. But a lot of my close friends come from families where the damages of overprotecting parents are still visible in them and affect their lives.
But it’s not about the children alone, also the parent(s) change along the way. In some cases eventually the roles are tipped upside down and the parent becomes dependent on the child. In other cases a parent and a child part ways and never meet again. To be honest, there are as many different scenarios as there are families.
Change is always inevitable, but for most of us change is scary. I’ve witnessed on close range the effects that changes in life can have on people, both on the positive side and on the negative side. I, for one, love change, find it easy to adapt to new situations and pretty much need changes in my life to keep myself going. But at the same time there are people in my family who cannot cope with change.
Such changes can include things like children moving away from home, someone dying, or even a grandchild appearing. All of them are shocks to the system (even the positive ones) that bring changes with them and some people have great difficulties in adapting to the altered situation.
Such differences in characters in one family can create large drifts within the ‘unit’. And if not managed properly, those drifts can become so serious that in the end one or two of the relationships within that family come to an end.
The point of family, in my view, is to act as a support system for all the individuals within that unit. When one falls apart others raise to the occasion and support them, stand by them and assist them until they get through the difficulties.
There’s just one problem: within that one family every single person is an individual. And every individual thinks differently, feels differently, sees things perhaps differently than everyone else. Especially when one member of a family falls into tough times, for example due to an addiction, it’s extremely hard for the rest of the family because they feel scared, disappointed, frustrated, and simply can’t understand the struggling party. And without understanding there’s not much they can do to help.
Family is like a little company with much more emotions involved. Every single person in it must participate in running it, keeping it going. And actually, in these hectic, demanding times this can be too much to ask for a lot of people:
Trying to fit a coffee with your grandmum into your already bulging calendar can suddenly become almost impossible, and remembering to take into account that your sister is struggling when all you want to do is vent your anger at her because she didn’t book the restaurant for Mothers’ Day like she promised becomes harder and harder.
At the end of the day we all need to be proper psychologists and knowledgeable on human emotions to be able to cope with all the different characters in the family to keep it intact. For some, this turns out to be impossible and families fall apart.
It’s an incredibly delicate but strong, beautiful but rough, and flexible but unyielding a unit, family. Cherish it, nurture it, and on top of everything appreciate it, but at the same time remember that you can’t keep it in one piece alone.