The family unit is the originating source for how one interacts with others and heavily influences how one will behave in future friendships and relationships.

Members of a family whose interrelationships thrive will be more inclined to excel in friendships and relationships outside of the family unit. But, to deny or neglect relationships within the family by way of isolation or willful disregard is to limit the potential for future friendships and relationships, and in all likelihood threatens to inhibit their longevity.

These are the writer’s assumptions, both unscientific and unproven. But, as we strive constantly for self-improvement and for the sake of improving our most cherished friendships and relationships both within and outside of the family unit, I think these assumptions are worth considering, debating, and developing further.

What is a Family Unit?

I would define “the family unit” as consisting of a group of people, however large or small, that society considers a family by way of its living arrangement, and/or that considers itself inseparable by way of blood-relation or recognized relationships.

The family unit is the most basic origin of how one interacts with others, considering that the family member first and primarily learns in childhood and into adulthood of how to properly or improperly interact with others. Another important dimension to consider with family relationships is how the members consider or understand themselves to be largely inseparable, either by blood-relation or by long-standing, pre-established relationships (in other words, being blood-related is not the only factor that contributes to the uniqueness of the relationships that comprise the family).

On the one hand, this dimension of “inseparability” unites the family unit uniquely, and allows the family’s interrelationships to strongly grow.  Further, inseparability provides a forever foundation upon which disputes and disagreements can easily mend.

The Down Side of Inseparability

However, there have been some families that I have witnessed in which (1) the family unit interacts more combatively within itself than it does with others outside of the family unit, and (2) where the aforementioned dimension of “inseparability” becomes more of an obstacle than a uniting factor that can help mend contentious behavior.

In both cases, I believe the same symptoms give cause to these unwanted but frequently experienced behaviors:

  1. DBD, or Don’t Back Down: a refuse-to-back-down mentality is propelled by subconscious egotism, and/or an almost primal competitiveness
  2. Blame, Pointed Exclusively Outward: members are predisposed to place blame exclusively outward and neglect to acknowledge their own responsibility

These unpleasant traits of family interaction might cause the family unit to split, instigate a family fight or feud, or compel members of the family into isolation. However, to deny or neglect relationships within the family by way of isolation or willful disregard is to limit the potential for future friendships and relationships, and in all likelihood threatens to inhibit their longevity.

Steps to Take to Try to Improve Family Relationships

In order to improve the family unit’s interrelationships, and thus members’ relationships with others, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Assert Logic over Emotion: If a dispute arises, deny one’s immediate and often emotional first reaction, and assert one’s thoughts and feelings calmly.
  2. Communication; Acknowledge Issues: Implying feelings is unproductive, and denial of issues merely prolongs them. Acknowledgment and honest communication rectifies misunderstandings.
  3. Everyone Shares the Blame; Point it Inward: During disputes, all members of the family unit are likely to be at least partially responsible. Every member should shares some blame.

Every individual member should place blame in the dispute on one’s self (to combat one’s own ego), and outright disregard the fault of the other(s) (to instill natural forgiveness).

The ways in which one interacts with others originates from the family unit. How one interacts within one’s family is likely to be emulated in other friendships and relationships outside the family. One must recall that the family’s “inseparability” and closeness can give way to strong, stubborn and ego-driven emotions that threaten to damage interrelationships. Those traits can carry over outside of the family unit and negatively affect members’ relationships with others.

Men and women who wish to exert higher levels of leadership in everyday life and want to create a foundation upon which future friendships and relationships will grow should consider relationships within the family unit to be an utmost priority. One could easily conclude that strong and positive family interrelationships will positively influence members’ friendships and relationships outside of the family unit.

The family unit should be conditioned with values of loyalty, respect, honesty, integrity, and truthfulness to benefit the family unit’s interrelationships and members’ relationships with all others.