Archive for the ‘ leaving home ’ Category

She was the office manager in an engineering firm. Every time something would break – whether a toilet or a fax machine – they would call out to her. “Betsy, the ____ is broken!” No request, just a statement. Quickly, she would arrive at the scene of the malfunction, ponder and repair the offending apparatus.   And is 
frustrated that she was always expected to do everything.

One day I asked her, “Why does everyone depend on YOU to fix things, when everyone around you has an engineering degree?” Without hesitation, she responded, “That’s how I was raised.” One of 4 children, she was always the “key holder” – the one entrusted with the key to the house. What an honor. And what a responsibility. Respected as the wisest and the most accountable, she held possession of the keys. And she was also in charge of knowing where everyone was, that everyone was safe and making sure that everything was in its rightful place.  
And yet we wonder why we end up in the same family roles and same relationship dynamics (dilemmas) that we have had in our early formative years, regardless of where we are, who we are with and how old we are. It’s really not a mystery. We are most comfortable in these default roles and relationships because it is “who we are” - and we repeat our parts in each similar situation we confront over and over. We re-enact our old pattern and we subconsciously train others to respond to us in the same comfortable ways.

It is important to be aware of what we get and what we want. Alice Walker advises, “Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.”   Betsy is working on sitting still when those around her act helpless.  While it frustrates her to be the “fixer”, she isn’t sure what she will become next.  Our family and our history are where we begin….how we move forward is up to us. Making changes to old roles and responsibilities can be challenging, BUT we have to give ourselves permission to dream and change


Life isn’t about finding yourself

Life is about




This might seem to be a silly question. It’s something you did many years ago; perhaps you can barely remember. Where did you go? To work? To college? To an apartment? To a volunteer agency? Nearby? Or far away?

Wherever you went, your family had an influence on this earliest process of becoming an adult. This is a time for differentiating from the family as a whole and launching into your own life. The beginning of self definition.

Our daughter, and youngest child, is off to college in a few days. And hopefully, we are supporting her in stepping into her next chapter. I want her to know that we have great faith, not only in her intelligence but in her ability to face life. We’ve taught her all we can. Now it is her chance to figure out what works for her – and what doesn’t. Who she wants to be in this world and what matters to her.

I hope we’ve supported that all along. But this is a special time. And this process will have a powerful impact on her ability to grow into adulthood and lead herself.

I hope we’ve done it well.

How did you leave home?  Hopefully, you were given “permission” to decide who you wanted to be and what was important to you. What part of that process is unfinished?

We all have some challenges in becoming independent with and from our families.  A few suggestions to move you forward:

1. You might have a conversation with family members about your growing into adulthood.

2. Consider the context in which you first left home – the historic and social context, what was happening in the rest of your family at the time, your family culture?

3. How did these impact your family’s reaction to your creating independence?

The best leaders are those who are able to know themselves and lead themselves before leading others.