War and peace: the myth of the happy family

There’s a rumour going around that you know someone with a happy family – one where everyone is calm and respectful and kind and everyone gets along brilliantly; a family where everything flows and nobody fights. We’ve all heard of them. We all know they must be out there… somewhere.

Rubbish! I’m here today to break the illusion of the happy family so that you can all go back to your real lives and stop judging yourselves by unattainable standards.

Every family is ‘dysfunctional’. Every family has problems. Every family is made up of human beings who have all traits – the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the kind and the mean. Every family has both war and peace.

That may sound like bad news, but if you look carefully you’ll find the beauty in it. Families, like life, contain a perfect balance of good and bad, elation and despair, order and chaos. Take any moment in your day and look at how perfectly you are all.

balancing each other out – the parents are fighting and the kids are getting along well; one parent is screaming at a child and the other parent is protecting them; one child is cooperating and listening and the other is rebelling and ignoring. Show me the storm and I’ll find where the calm is. Show me the calm and I’ll guarantee you a storm!

I take time each evening before I go to sleep to write in a little notebook beside my bed. I take note of everything I am grateful for in the day, and I also make note of the synchronicities I have observed. I look at things that have challenged me and see what was supporting me at that same moment; I look at the fights that have emerged and at where the concurrent peace lay; I look at who was up and who was down at the same moments throughout the day.

If you take some time to see the balance always playing out in your family, you will be humbled by the perfection inherent in it. You will also stop labeling the war/fights/challenge/rebellion/chaos as bad and stop labeling the peace/playing/support/cooperation/order as good. All parts are necessary. In fact, it has been shown that growth occurs at the border of support and challenge. Both are necessary. Both are what make a family enriching to all members.

So would we even want a happy, peaceful family if it meant no growth for our children or us? We need to be challenged, to have our buttons pushed, to have a bit of chaos in order to grow and thrive and make the most of our short time on this planet. Our families are there to provide the fertile ground for growth and development. And we all know what fertile ground is full of!

Stop searching for the impossible and embrace what is. Your family, full of war and peace, is exactly as it should be and is a perfect interplay of opposites provided for your growth and forward momentum. Love all sides and accept all traits. Embrace both the war and the peace and then you will experience the true meaning of a ‘happy family’.

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Mia Von Scha

Mia Von Scha

Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

3 Responses

  1. Shoo what a relief to actually hear it said and so well…. I couldn't agree with you more. its how the problems/challenges are solved that builds character and closeness. So many things we do already without even knowing it. You put it all so into perspective. Thankyou Mia 🙂

  2. Thanks Clara for sharing your beautiful story with us! I'm so lucky in the work that I do to be able to peek inside the worlds of all these "perfect" families and see what is really going on. It is perfect, by the way, just not in the way that we want to envision it – there's no more or less peace in any household that I've come across, just a perfect balance of war and peace! When you let go of the fantasy you open yourself us to see the beauty of what is. Good luck to you going forward with your wonderfully dysfunctional family 😉

  3. I can't tell you how true this is Mia!! I have a "perfect" family. My husband is a perfect father to my children. We are excellent teammates. Our household runs smoothly. We are a "power couple". Everyone thinks our family is THE family to be like and always asks "how do you do it" (we have 3 small kids and both work full-time) and "wow, you are the mom I look up to the most!". Imagine their surprise when we told them a few months ago we are getting divorced! I ended up having to console everyone else! Lol 🙂 Turned out he was not the perfect husband and I was not the perfect wife. And what everyone saw was not at all how it really was underneath. So now we are separated, both much happier, and our imperfect situation is far closer to "perfect" than before – and far more dysfunctional 🙂 🙂

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