The more he shared the clearer it became – he, like the rest of us, has a real family. Not the fairytale family, not the scandalous family, but one like most families, that has its share of joys and struggles. Prince Henry’s decision to share his experience and perspective on his family has evoked both surprise and even shock for many. It is clear he loves his family. It is clear there are many relational challenges. And finally, it is also clear that, in part, those challenges are exacerbated by the media.
We all have a family of origin. Histories, traditions, rituals, norms, expectations and emotional energy are all relevant ingredients that make up our families. Our experience of being a part of our family of origin has a significant impact on how we interact with other individuals, communities and groups.
Psychiatrist Dr. Murray Bowen introduced the Family Systems Theory in the 1950s. He further developed it with Michael Kerr (Kerr & Bowen, 1988). Bowen’s three key assumptions: • The family is a complex emotional unit • The family is emotionally interconnected • Familia, community and social relationships are reciprocal. The fundamental premise is that families function as a system where emotional interactions play a powerful role in creating interdependence and cohesion to the extent that family members are aware and responsive to the wellness or dysfunction in themselves and other members.
In my experience, the more a person is aware of the dynamics of their family of origin and the fundamentals of Family System Theory the greater capacity they have to navigate family, community and social relationships. What is the emotional energy am I bringing to this interaction? What emotional energy am I experiencing / sensing in those around me?
One of the greatest lessons I have learned working with a wide array of individuals and groups is that healthy humans make for healthy families, healthy communities, healthy organizations. Once a person prioritizes emotional health, once a group of humans decides emotional health is a priority, the capacity to thrive increases exponentially.
As always, I appreciate friend and colleague Brian McLaren’s perspective in this regard, “I hope you will desire to be a kind human being, because . . . that person you call your enemy . . . that person is part of your family, part of your species, part of your story, part of your kind. . . .And in addition to being a humble and kind human being, I hope you will aspire to being a just human being. Don’t seek power over others to control or exploit them or harm them. Instead, use whatever power that comes your way for the common good, so that all people everywhere can share equal justice and equal dignity. Seek justice. Love justice. Do justice. Be a just human being . . . religiously.”
“I want to learn to be part of the solution – your solution. Teach me, God. Move me, God. And I promise to do my part in bringing your healing to the world – starting with me, my family, and my community.”