In 2008 I got married. Nothing could prepare me for how much that little piece of paper would change everything. Suddenly I was consumed by the fact I was now a wife. My identity changed. Everything was colored by what a good wife would do. Immediately I thought about my mother and how amazing a wife she was to my dad and how I should cook my husband meals every night like she did. The only thing was that just wasn’t me – I was a square trying to fit into a round hole – it wasn’t going to work.
Similarly when we become parents we reflect upon what our parents were like, what they did well and how we would do things differently, if at all. Our role and identity in life changes as we enter a new phase. Being a mother, father, big brother or the youngest child completely changes how we interact with the world and our family. Although I firmly believe our self-esteem should not be wrapped up in the roles we inhabit they nevertheless impact our behavior and worldview. So it’s important to acknowledge the roles we inhabit whilst not allowing them to define us, thereby celebrating our individuality.
Realizing the roles we and our family members inhabit does however help us better appreciate where they are coming from. In order to fully understand our family we, somewhat paradoxically, have to both view them as individuals and see them in the context of their role within the family.