Friday, 27 September 2013

Family Dynamics/ Common Courtesy

Family dynamics is a term used to describe how families communicate and exist together. Every family has a distinct pattern of relating to one another.

Part of family life is establishing house rules. It’s important to keep the list of rules simple, limited in number and to use positive “Do” rather than negative “Don’t” language. House rules might be something like “Be kind to one another,” or “Respect others’ belongings”.

Those are good rules, but there is another dynamic that helps the family function smoothly…chores. Life requires regular work and children who are assigned chores learn responsibility as part of the family.
Chores might need to be done every day, or weekly and could include such things as loading the dishwasher or doing the laundry.

But there are a lot of other things that need to be done in the home, not big enough to be called a chore, but are more of a courtesy.

Did you ever read the comic strip For Better or For Worse? It was written by a woman named Lynn Johnston and chronicled the life and times of the fictional Patterson family.

The characters aged just like Lynn’s family, from the time it began in 1979 until it ended 29 years later. The comic strip is being published in the newspaper once again, from the beginning.

The web site is . This is an interesting site; complete with character profiles, an archive of cartoons and even a games section. If you like a word search game, you really should try Word Roundup, it’s different and fun.

Under the section titled Characters, I found this quote from Elly Patterson, the comic strip Mom. “It’s okay to be human while juggling life’s demands…even when your Super Woman t-shirt is in the laundry.”

This was one of my favourite cartoons, the mother ranting about how her family fails to do the simple things to help out around the house, such as putting a new roll of toilet paper in the holder when needed.

The cartoon gives other examples of  household ‘chores’ that cannot be assigned, but should be done when needed as a courtesy to other family members. I wonder, did I have an Elly episode in the past where I found myself sitting in the bathroom, sans toilet tissue.  I think, as this cartoon has stayed in my memory, that I had numerous occasions where I felt as overwhelmed as Elly. Most mothers would agree, sometimes the Super Woman t-shirt let's you down.

There should be rules for those little jobs, like you empty it, you fill it.

In my husband’s family one of those unwritten rules was to replace the bag of milk if you were the one to drink the last of the quart in the plastic holder.

We know kids will always find a way to get out of chores, and my husband and his brother were no different. Their trick, to get out of replacing the bag of milk, was to leave just enough in the bottom of the bag so they could claim the bag wasn’t empty.

Years later, the brothers lived a distance apart and only saw each other at family events or at the summer cottage. I hate to tell you how many times one brother would leave the milk bag near empty, just to tease the other. It became an ongoing thing, a childhood memory they relived as adults.

What can I say, boys will be boys.

I’m sure my brother would have some equally silly stories about growing up with two sisters. Though I find that hard to believe, I’m sure we were always courteous and polite.

Family dynamics. There may be moments of drama, disappointment and disagreement, but hopefully, also a lifetime of love and devotion.

It’s the stuff memories are made of, memories that come to us out of the blue because of something we saw, or something we did. Something like an empty toilet paper holder.




Blogger's Brother said...

There's a funny thing about memories, I'm never quite sure if I actually remember the event or if I remember the stories of the event that had been told over the years.

One such event was the time I walked into the follow through of an older girl batting in softball and got my pumpkin split open. After the stitches I was back at home with a huge bandage over my eye and around my head.

My two older sisters shared a room and I had my own (which I'm sure didn't help my popularity with them). One of the most prized possessions in their room was a radio. I was never allowed to touch it.

But during my time convalescing they brought their radio in to my room for me to listen to (mind you, I still wasn't allowed to touch it).

Anonymous said...

What can I say. You can choose your friends, but you don't have a choice with family. They're yours.