Family happiness can be quite unstable. You may all be happy together at one moment, and then someone says or does something and unhappiness arises. Why is this?
The Meaning Of Family
Why do people have children? Usually to make themselves more happy. They believe a child may make them feel more complete and better about themselves. Then they are dependent on the child for a sense of self, happiness and satisfaction. The child also does the same, and looks to the parents for approval and a greater sense of self. Once the child grows up and is able to make it's own choices, the parent-child relationship of control is still there.
This is where many problems within families arise. The relationships become dominated by ego. People play roles and give other people conceptual identities:
"I am the father and you are my son so you must do what I say".
"I am your child and you do not show me the love I deserve from a parent".
Remember that any dysfunctional behaviour within your family is the ego, it is not who the person is. Seeing this can be a big help in dealing with any problems.
Even if the child has now "grown up", the parents will likely still seek to control the child to do what they think is best.
If the "child" (now an adult) does not do this, the parents will not fully accept the child, or will resist the child in some way. This will often upset the child because it feels it must have the love and approval of its parents in order to feel happy or complete.
What your child does makes no difference to who you are. What you parents think or do make no difference to who you are. Who you are is far beyond any of this, it is unaffected. You are pure consciousness, pure awareness. Do not look to another family member to make you feel more whole or complete. They can not give this to you, you can only find it within yourself, as who you already are.
Allow their egoic role to be as it is, just remain present and conscious. From there it may seem ridiculous that you ever felt you needed your parents' approval to be happy, or felt that you had to control your child as if they were an extension of yourself (which is what the ego will say they are).
You were the same before you had children as you were after having children. The only thing that has changed is the idea or concept that you have about yourself. This is ego.
Whilst writing this I have noticed that our language does not even have a commonly used word for adult offspring - even if they are 30 years old, they can still be called "my children". This is either a cause or a result of most parents being unable to let go of the conceptual identity of their offspring as being children.
All of your relationships mirror your own state of consciousness back to you. Use them to see what you still react to and resist, what covers up your inner peace? Your relationships can be very effective at bringing out the ego in you, so use them wisely - bring awareness and acceptance to your inner state and break free form your ego or emotional reactions. Family happiness then emerges by itself.
Dependence For Family Happiness
If your family happiness is dependent on other people, then you are not in your own power. If other people can make you happy, they can easily make you unhappy without even trying. Family happiness should result from the family members being secure and happy within themselves, rather than asking that their family relationships make them happy.
No relationship can make you truly happy. It is just a reflection of how you already feel.
Recognising Ego In Parents
Look for these kind of thoughts or behaviours in yourself or within your parents:
- Possessiveness of the child - "He/she is MY child".
- Believing that the child is an extension of who you are, and that they must conform with your opinions of what to do for you to be happy or to fully accept them.
- Feeling proud if they do something you like, but feeling disappointed if their actions are against your own judgements of what is right.
- Expecting your child to do what you say, even if they are "an adult".
- Being identified with your role as a parent e.g. "I AM A Mother".
- Giving your child a conceptual identity e.g "he/she is my child".
- Depending on your children for happiness.
Recognising Ego In Sons or Daughters
Look for these behaviours within yourself or within your own children:
- Feeling upset if your parents criticise or do not approve of you.
- Feeling better about yourself if your parents are proud or approve of you.
- Reacting with emotional negativity at their attempts to control you.
- Giving your parents a conceptual identity and/or feeling possessive of them "That is MY mother".
- Identifying yourself as "a son" or "a daughter" (conceptual identities).
- Depending on your parents for happiness or self-worth.
Recognising Ego Between Siblings
Some egoic behaviours within a sibling relationship include:
- Competing for parents' approval or anyone else's approval.
- Giving yourself or sibling a conceptual identity eg. "he is my brother".
- Feeling possessive of your sibling.
- Feeling superior or inferior to your sibling.
- Feeling better about yourself if you receive more praise or approval, feeling bad if you receive lease praise or approval than your sibling.
- Caring what your sibling thinks of you.
What To Do
Know that it is ego, it is not the true nature of you or the individual that is acting out this dysfunction, it is just ego. Once you see ego for what it is, you disidentify it from who you are, or do not see at as real in another. Let it be, but see the distinction between who someone really is and what their ego is doing. The person possessed by ego is totally lost, so do not expect they act any different, they do not know how.
When disidentifying from these egoic traits within yourself, you may find large amounts of resistance or even confusion. This is the ego resisting its own destruction. When you realise that who you are is beyond any familial role, name or form means the ego will become weaker, which is what it fears.
Notice strong reactive thoughts of the ego like "But I am a mother". Realise there is a distinction between a function that you fulfill or fulfilled (such as a parent) and who you see yourself to be. If you believe that this function is actually who you are, this is where the ego arises. Ego is identification with forms, including conceptual identities such as being a parent or a child. You are just consciousness and nothing more. Your roles and titles come and go, but you remain the same.
So do not expect family happiness from others or from your family. Be the change and find the sense of love and completeness that is already there within you. As you do this you no longer depend on others for your own happiness. In this state you go beyond the happy and unhappy duality and instead find constant inner peace. Family happiness then becomes less important, yet more likely to emerge.