The Myth of Ready-Made Relationships

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I’ve been thinking a lot about titles, especially the relational kind like sister or brother. What is a title, really? Letters arranged in a particular order. A word. A noun. Used to categorize, to identify, to convey position, to assert power.  

There seems to be an unspoken collective agreement that familial titles bring with them some kind of Norman Rockwell storyline. It’s like a cosmic two-for-one: With this title you get a ready-made relationship for no extra charge.

One look at your own family and it’s probably pretty obvious this is not how it works. Relationships are built over time. Reinforced and recommitted to time and again. Not handed out like a dollar store coupon.

Yet, the most precious of titles – mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother – are granted by the happenstance of birth or adoption and we consider them irrevocable, furthering the myth that the title somehow entitles one to and automatically delivers a relationship.

Maybe it’s time we re-consider.

What if we thought of ourselves as Mother-in-Training? Or Brother, temp-to-permanent position? How might our behaviors change? Our mindset? How might our family relationships be different if we stopped assuming we were irreplaceable?

What if we regarded these relationships for what they truly are – the ultimate family heirloom to be carefully crafted, refined, polished and protected?