I returned from the mountains today, after spending three nights and four days with my family. From eating, sledding, snowshoeing, roller skating, game playing and more eating, we spent a great deal of time together at Snow Mountain Ranch. After all of this togetherness I came to appreciate certain dynamics about being in relationships. One of the main things that has struck me over the years is that there are certain personality styles; we are different but just as important. And things work best when we can appreciate the differences versus judging them. Not only can we embrace difference, but we can grow to admire who we are and who we are not. There are roles that each family member tends to possess, and it is ok.
There are some of us that take charge and like to be in charge. There are others that look to fill in the gaps of what is needed and they help, but tend to take charge only when needed. I noticed that as we are adding people to our family some roles change some, but all in all people have personality traits that have been their personality style for a long time. Maybe they developed out of need, or maybe they were there from the start. Some seem born from anxiety, or high energy and others seem moreg of the low gear style, seem to go with the flow, and don’t want to “take charge”. One thing is for sure, a balance of “take chargers” and of the “willing to help” people proved a good balance on this family vacation. There were seven of us on this winter trip, and if we were all “In-charge” it would not have gone as well as it did and if we were all “willing to help”, it also would not have gone as well. It was easy to see that there were some things that made the therapist in me see patterns of why some people might be in charge while some are not.
One thing noticeable was birth order. Every oldest child of a sibling group seemed a natural and would show an interest in taking the lead, even down to my niece that is 13. Birth order is not everything, but it is something. I am the youngest sibling and it showed on this trip. I have found that staying out of the way, doing what I like to do, and helping every time I am asked, works for me. I am learning to embrace my role in this evolving growing family of ours. My sister married an oldest child, and she is an oldest child, and they are interesting to watch. Both have the strength and tendency to “take charge” and yet they seem to be trying to find a balance with both having the ability to be the leader. Having the addition of a brother-in-law and two nieces has added changes to our family. We now have a bigger family and we have opportunities all of the time to learn, grow and change.
Another difference I noticed was male energy versus female energy. My father was on this trip along with my brother-in-law. Both are take chargers, both are oldest siblings (my mother is the youngest not a coincidence), and both have a lot of male energy. They are both handy, are good at organizing, and can I say male energy one more time? I wonder if things worked well because my father was a guest and had not been to Snow Mountain Ranch before, so he could go with the flow because he knew there were experts on the scene. (Although during snowshoeing he was the leader of the pack the entire way.)
Who I gravitate towards in my relationships are often older siblings. My business partner looked after many younger siblings, and she has a “take charge” busy energy. She seems to be producing often. She is a “doer.” I have doer moments but she often reminds me of my sister (and that is a compliment). I don’t mind, because for the most part it works. We have a good balance as people say when they meet us. I also have had the longest lasting romantic relationships with the oldest sibling.
I learned on this trip that my “helper” role had its strengths and place and so does the “take chargers”. My offering to the people that are one or the other is to appreciate who you are along with appreciating the people that are not naturally like you. We need us all.