Relationships are difficult! I’m afraid it’s true. Some of us seem to be good at forming them, but perhaps we are not the best at nurturing them and they fade over time; others are not good at making that first approach, but then when they begin a relationship they are dedicated to it and ensure it lasts. Wherever you fit within these “types” – and I am sure there are many more types – it doesn’t matter. The fact is that they are important.
Relationships, in my humble opinion are the key to success – success in business and success in our personal lives. We often define ourselves by how many “friends” we have (I use the quotes to reference our virtual friends on social media of course), or by how often people turn to us for advice, or perhaps how many of our clients or customers buy things from us. In my world, in Save the Family, I define myself in a slightly different way – by how many people in need the organisation I represent helps and by how many people in my personal life I can help.
It sounds a little self-righteous of me, I know but it was relationships that started my route to Save the Family and it is relationships that drive me now.
Our families, here at Save the Family often arrive with poor relationships; some will have poor relationships with family and with statutory services, but perhaps great relationships with their children. Others will have absolutely no idea how to behave in a relationship, as they have never been shown what a reciprocal relationship is. The to-ing and fro-ing of give-and-take that we strive for in a relationship cannot be taken for granted; I now know that, after over two years with the charity and with our ever-changing families.
One thing that always strikes me as amazing is when I see that transition in one of our families – from a position of utter rejection and self-protection, to at last being able to allow someone in – just enough – to start to deal with the underlying issues and learn again how to develop and maintain different types of relationship. It is worth noting that, even now I never actually expect this to happen with our families; I just hope and pray that it does and then I smile when it actually happens, knowing that the volunteers, partners and staff in this organisation have managed to help someone turn their view of relationships around, because that’s what life is all about, isn’t it – Relationships?
On a practical note, I am constantly (happily) surprised when I see relationships developing, whether it is someone offering to lend a hand or just a shoulder to cry on, to someone in need, when a few days before they thought they had to fight the world to keep their family together. Helping someone come to the understanding that with a few changes, some honest help and a good wind they can develop and maintain their own relationships with, well anybody is an amazing thing – rare, but an amazing thing. I count myself as one of the lucky ones, as I have indeed witnessed this, here with Save the Family.
Now you will have to forgive me for using myself as an example – and my wife may disagree with this – but I have been told constantly throughout my life that I am “good at relationships”. I don’t know why; perhaps it was my mother telling me for years that everyone has something to offer and it’s always worth finding out what, before you judge them – and you will judge – we all do. Or maybe it is just that I do actually like to listen a lot and then decide what to do, based on having all the facts – something that took years to develop I might add!
Either way, relationships are evident in every part of our lives – and for our families here at Save the Family they are absolutely critical to their wellbeing. If a parent cannot demonstrate a stable and reciprocal relationship with his or her child, then they cannot progress in our communities. If a parent cannot demonstrate a stable and reciprocal relationship with his or her partner or their peers, then they cannot progress in our communities. We put – rightly so – targets and guidelines in place for parents and children to achieve and we expect them to be able to achieve them, but they can only even attempt to do that IF they have the ability to develop, nurture and maintain relationships.
I vote for more support to develop this area of work, for some of the most complex families in need in our country; with this we might succeed in giving the next generation a chance. Don’t you agree??