What Does Your Family History Have to do With it?

According to Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST), the most important and impactful relationship in your life is that which you have with your parents. Bowen demonstrated that when one can begin to understand one’s family history, and can begin to change their relationship with their parents, all of the other relationships in their lives will change-including the marital relationship. Unfortunately, through the decades since Bowen’s work, his ideas have been popularized, bastardized, and turned into a kind of blaming of parents for our own shortcomings and pain. From a BFST perspective, emotional maturity can be better achieved by exploring one’s family history in order to see parents more broadly and fully…less as “Mom” and “Dad” and more as people. When we are more emotionally mature, we can then approach our own marriages and children, etc. better.

Excerpts from the recording:

Miriam: “When the family can’t talk about these things and integrate past events, the ways that that passes the anxiety down INVISIBLY…across the generations…is profound! And if you are living with anxiety and you don’t know why or what’s going on and you can begin to pull out [your family history], it’s…wow!”

Kelly regarding one’s family history and its impact on our day to day functioning: “We don’t know what we don’t know!”

Kelly regarding people who may not think their parents have anything to do with it: “The biology is compelling.” “We don’t react to people who ‘don’t matter.'” “Getting straight with Mom and Dad…all other relationships fall from this piece.”

Books mentioned in this episode:

“You Can Go Home Again” by Monica McGoldrick

“The Family Diagram & Family Research” by Victoria Harrison