Family: 3 ways to come at ease with your heritage

Family: I was born in a big one. A Catholic family of nine, including my parents. January 8th 1926, the day my father was born. In his life, all the ingredients were there to construct a Hero's Journey. And my father lived his heroic life to the end. Looking back on his life yesterday, I wondered how his story affected mine.
Family: the absent father

In the society we created, women usually are the ones working part-time and men are usually working a full-time job. My father’s mother died while giving birth to her fifth child. She left behind a hard-working farmer, who was not capable of taking care of a new-born and four toddlers. My father was not officially adopted, but brought into the family of the school principal.

The school principal and his wife could not conceive children, and they were thrilled to have this lovely two-year old. A smart kid. Problem solved. But: my father was always hurt that his biological father had given him away. And his new father was not that interested in this little child either. He was an intellectual man, reading about great philosophical problems.

The way my father solved this problem was to integrate his fathers’ lives work and make it his own. His father had a public school in a Catholic village. The school he founded run empty when the priest, who ran the village together with the mayor, had said in church that is was sinful to put your children in a school that was not Catholic. Soon after that sermon, people started to take their children from the school, leaving my fathers’ father no other option as to close it.
Now my father, when he was an adult had a chance to start his own school. Like his father, a school in a small Catholic town.


My father in front of his school
Family solution #1: realize that there are patterns

The pattern I see in my fathers’ life is that he, subconsciously wanting to conquer the love and admiration of his father, made his father’s dream a reality. He left the town he grew up in, he left his mother behind (he was always very aligned with his mother and he got out and build himself a prosperous career. When his own mother died he was heart-broken. But she had gave him permission to go and  grab this special chance.

As an outsider, you can easily see the pattern here. The absent father gets courted by the neglected son, who gives him the dream he had always dreamed about. Even after his passing, because my father’s father never experienced his ultimate success.

What are the patterns in your family? What are the challenges your parents had to face while growing up? Was making a living easy for them? If not: how did they solve the problem? And what lessons did you learn from it?

Family: the mother

Whenever there is a father and a mother present in a family, a diversion of roles is inevitable. One is authoritative the other submissive, one is more knowledgeable about the material aspects of the world, the other knows more about psychological aspects…

In my family, my father was the extrovert. He was the one who was talkative, who was always around (I never had an absent father). My mother had a world of her own that made her very mystique. She was not busy with spiritual stuff however. But she was in a world of her own.

She gave me what I have come to call: “barbed wire love”. Parents can be critical to their children, and it is always because of their best interest. To prevent them from getting hurt. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that criticising your child is good. It is in hindsight that I understand that she gave me what she thought was good for me.

Mother is also associated with the Big Mother. Mother Earth, Gaia, Sophia, Baba Jaga, Inanna. Lots of names for the same principles. The Big Mother is nurturing, but also destructive. The Virgin Queen born out of the sea, but also The Ruler of Death.

Artwork: Gaia earth


Every child has to break loose from his mother at one point in life. A daughter has to create her own identity. This process of breaking away can be painful; but it is necessary.

If you dream about your mother she could represent the energy of Mother Earth, the energy of nature. Analysing those dreams can give you a clear view on your on shadow.

Family solution #2: use dreams as vital information

I have written a lot about the Goddess on Mindfunda. When people ask me “How can I connect with the Goddess in my dreams?” I always invite them to look at their dreams that feature their mother. If you view those dreams from the perspective of the Goddess, you can see what her message is for you. Is she the Dark Goddess, the possessive mother, who does not allow her child to make its own mistakes? Is she the fertile Goddess, promising fertility and new projects? Or is he the wise old Crone, listening with a gentile smile around her lips?

If you look at your life as the story of the hero(ine), what story can you tell about your life theme and your role in it?

Family: brothers and sisters

Most of us are born with brothers and/or sisters. Our position in our native family influences our characters. The oldest child usually is the smartes one, research says. If a child is surrounded by older persons, he/she gets more responsibility, and plays a role in raising and educating the younger children in the family.

I was born in a large family of 9 persons, my parents included. Looking back on my childhood, I can see that there were three families: the three oldest children, the two middle children and the two youngest. My brother, the oldest one, was the one child that was smart enough to get accepted in all three of these families.

Next mindfunda: more about family: the Cain and Abel effect


4 thoughts on “Family: 3 ways to come at ease with your heritage”

  1. Having children of my own made me understand so much more about their reactions in the past. I think that every family has its secrets and forgiving and understanding my parents has made me a nicer person.

  2. Thank you Lidia for being so honest and open. I am always amazed by your wisdom and warmth. Getting to know you has been such a lesson in loving live. You certainly are able to mix dark times with a bubble and make a toast to life.

  3. Thanks Susanne for this thought provoking post. It’s always a good idea to ponder on the dreams when our parents are present, even if no longer with us. They’re still alive in some way on a deep level. I’m not sure I know any family who does not have some sort of dysfunction within the family dynamic – many of us come from normally dysfunctional families, some perhaps more dysfunction than others. It gives us an opportunity as adults and parents to reflect back and see where we can take action to break the pattern so that we don’t pass it on –

  4. Wow! When I read this all sorts of memories came rushing back to me! Here is the short version: I have no personal knowledge of my grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. My mom and dad were always fighting – constantly! Some times out loud, and other times in icy cold silence. Eventually, of course, they split up. I had to take on the role of the adult at age 11, being put in the middle between two squabbling adult-children. I was expected to know what was going on when I felt only bewildered and scared. I lived with my mother, who was both giving, kind and supportive, as well as hateful and angry at the slightest provocation. (She once beat me severely for me saying I liked light gray and pink colours together.) My two brothers lived with my dad, and had no easier time.

    My youngest brother supposedly committed suicide at 18, and even though an inquest was held, the family was still unable to accept the 'facts' as were presented in court. My other brother and I get along nicely, but geographic distance keeps us from seeing one another frequently.

    Dreams: I have often dreamed of my mother. Our encounters were always very healing and none of her dark personality showed up in them. My father doesn't appear often in my dreams, but when he does, it's almost like seeing him in waking life. He remains the same. I very seldom dream about my surviving brother, and have never dreamed (to my knowledge) about my departed brother. Only lately have I dreamed about my sister and my grandmother (through the intensive Twelve Holy Nights workshop).

    How did I heal myself from this fractured lifestyle? I recall walking along in Montreal some 40 years ago, when it struck me like a bolt from heaven – whatever I've been through does not define me! Even though I worked hard to overcome the harsh influence of both parents, I eventually succeeded. I worked on being kind and thoughtful, smiling rather than grumpy. Of course, this didn't always work, but I finally established my own character and personality.

    Now I'm thinking of the family I brought forth – three boys and two twin girls. The oldest son became very controlling, to the point that I could not deal with him and put him out of my life when he was an adult and a father. My youngest son I just had to distance myself from because he became a hard-core addict and I am not equipped to deal with this lifestyle. I did dream about him going this way a number of years ago, but it's only now that I realized what the dreams were telling me.

    My daughters and the other son I have in my life, and love them all deeply. It would be interesting to ask them the questions you have asked here, and see what their answers would be.

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