Looking Through the Lens of Family

Posted by on Sep 4, 2018 in Blog, Featured | 5 comments

Looking Through the Lens of Family

I lay in bed this morning thinking about both my immediate family and my extended family. In my immediate family, my wife, Farn, and I have two sons who are married and have 5 boys between them, aged 6 years old down to 8 months old. It’s more difficult logistically for us all to get together with the kids so young—yet we work at it. Being together is an important aspect of our life.

In my extended family, I’m the oldest of 5 boys with one older sister. We all gather every other year for a family reunion with all our kids and grandchildren. My father is still going strong at 98 years old. I spend considerable time with friends talking about our family and sharing stories of our adventures together.

But when I pause and think about it, I realize that family gatherings aren’t always easy. I look forward so much to our extended family reunions—spending time playing games as a large group, having one-on-one discussions with family members, and just being swallowed up by people I care for deeply. And yet when we come together as a very large group, I tend to disappear. I become grumpy, aloof, and alone. In a sense, I hide. I have no idea why this happens. Why would I become so distant when I’m surrounded by people I love? Sometimes I can break out of it and can enjoy the conversations, activities, and companionship. But more often than not, I fuzz over and seek the quiet corner.

This doesn’t happen as much with my own immediate family. When we all gather, I usually end up playing a more active role—organizing activities, playing with my grandsons, and initiating conversations. And yet, I still retreat occasionally. Again, I’m not sure why.

Families are just plain complicated. I’ve spent my entire career building teams and coaching leaders. Where do all of those skills go when I’m together with my family? Why can’t I just shake my introversion and be sociable and fun-loving when we gather? These are questions that I can’t answer. I just become stuck when I think about them.

Maybe this is why I am so drawn to the topic of families. They are messy, illogical, and revealing. There are no simple answers. But I know that at the core, deep down, I love both my immediate family and my extended family. It’s why I share stories—to make my strong feelings come to life. It helps define me and what I care most deeply about. I’d do anything to defend or protect my wife, sons, daughters-in-law, grandsons, siblings, in-laws, and father. They mean the world to me.


  1. One of the things I notice when I get together with my siblings, as well as when my sister’s family gets together, is that there tends to be a reversion to roles we had growing up together. These roles in most cases are quite different than what we have become in our adult lives. I wonder if you have noticed something similar in yours.

  2. I was going to say the same thing. The roles and dynamics of our childhood tend to continue into adulthood. Except the roles can be reversed when our aging or sick elders become dependent and we take on the role of parent with them.

  3. One of the worthier challenges of my life has been to allow my authentic nature to come forward and be expressive in all my relationships. The “family of origin” is no doubt one of the last places I’ve brought this concept on-line. In other words, I agree that breaking out of family patterns of relating can require lots of focus and commitment.

  4. This is great! I have a memory of John and me being back at Woodhill, the family farm. Dad, hollered across the room, “John would you choose a wine for dinner, and Pete would you grab a screw driver and help me with something?” John said, “Sure, but do you think I’ve never used a screw driver?” And I replied, “Sure, but do you think I can’t choose a wine?” Then John selected a wine, and I helped Dad with a simple fixit job. I was 40 and John was 42. Did I need two more years to be ready for the wine job? On reflection, the small exchange seemed weird and completely natural!

    • Peter: the real answer was YES…asking John to wield the screwdriver would have been a grave error. Maybe Vlad knew that. Sorry John…you were blessed with so many other skills 🙂

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