Growing up in a big family means living a pretty damn full life, I mean that literally and figuratively. It sometimes feels like my life is filled to the brim with family gatherings, holiday parties, baptisms, birthday parties, family vacation or weddings. It can get pretty exhausting, but it also means my life is filled to the brim with people who care about me and who look out for each other. It is as crazy as crazy gets; here are a few things I have learned growing up in a big family.
Forgive and forget –
With so many personalities there is bound to be conflict. Loving your family unconditionally is sometimes difficult, but when it comes to keeping a big family together you have to learn how to let things go.
Own your role –
There is the entertainers, the wallflowers, the drunk guy, the organizers, the welcoming committee, the cook, etc. You learn to step up and own your role in the family because each plays an important part in making a big family work.
Family is not determined by blood-
From the outside looking in you might not notice that almost half our family is not related by blood in any way. That is because family is not determined by blood, it is determined by who you choose to surround yourself with and share your life with. While my mom is one of eight kids, our family is also made up of smaller families brought together to make one big melting pot of a family.
Appreciate having a big support system –
When you grow up in a big family you really learn to appreciate having a support system. There was a time in my life when I took that for granted, I didn’t know how rare it was to have such a big group of people who support you no matter what. It is so important to appreciate that support system and to also do your part to support the system.
There is more than one way to do things-
In a big family there is bound to be a ton of different opinions and ways to do things; there is no room for “my way or the highway.” You learn pretty quickly that compromise is key if you want to keep the family together.
Talk to and listen to the old people –
Old is just another word for full of experiences. Honestly this one is one of my favorites, I’ve been very fortunate to spend a ton of time with and form close relationships with my grandparents. They always have the best stories and are full of insight. Taking time to listen to their stories and ask about their life is invaluable access to generations of lessons.
The best advice I have ever received came from my grandma, it is basically the mantra of my life and is one of the core values that has shaped who I am: “smile at everyone”
Always bring more than enough beer-
If you think what you are bringing is enough, bring more – beer, food, love, support, assistance. In a big family, bringing the bare minimum to the table just isn’t going to cut it. When you bring more than enough to the family, you will never have to worry that the family will give more than enough to you.