The 5 dimensions of the family bond

1. The ethical link: the gift and the debt

“The ethical bond is based on a mechanism of gift, debt and loyalty. As the anthropologist Marcel Mauss explained, donations structure links and relationships, in peoples as well as in families, around three essential moments: giving, receiving, giving. The biological gift of life, or the gift of a name and the means of living to an adopted child, will inevitably constitute and generate a debt vis-à-vis his parents. Debt creates loyalties, which is about meeting parental demands and expectations. Between generations, this donation-debt-loyalty mechanism has the particularity of being based on an absolute asymmetry: even if the donation does not include only positive things, even if it is sometimes riddled with traumas, neuroses, unspoken. , of secrets, we never feel quits towards our parents. Throughout our existence, at 15, 50 or 80 years old, we ask ourselves: “What do I really owe them?”, “How do I want to give them back?”, “Is it theirs? that I have to return something? ” We live as our parents obligated us, but this bond also forces us to free ourselves from it. It is therefore necessary to go through liberating betrayals: accepting oneself as being a debtor and disloyal to family expectations, under penalty of betraying oneself (“I don’t have to become a doctor to perpetuate the tradition”). Parents certainly have legitimate and necessary expectations: if a child is not dreamed of, carried by them, he risks encountering difficulties. But he must be able to get rid of those expectations. More often than not, we pay off this insolvent debt, not by giving back to previous generations, but by giving back to our children or loved ones. This is how the ethical bond continues. ”

2. The bond of filiation: a story of the origins

“The bond of filiation responds to the need to feel that one belongs to a family, to a story, even when there is no biological bond. It is structured in the child from the story of the origins. It is a question of telling him where he comes from, how he was received, of giving him elements so that he can constitute his own story. But it is not only a question of giving him his dates and place of birth. At 3-4 years old, the little ones do not ask themselves these questions. Their questioning is more philosophical than geographic. You have to hear the depth of their questions. They are concerned about the origin of the world: “How did the first flower come?”, “How does the sky hold?”, “Where was I when I was not born?” Hence their passion for dinosaurs, prehistory. You have to ask them about the answers they have imagined to the questions they ask themselves. Then provide them with elements so that they can elaborate: talk to them about origins far beyond their family, far beyond the trans-generational, talk to them about the human species, give them deep roots, broaden their perspective at 3 years old as at 15 years old. To a teenager with whom we are constantly arguing, who suffocates in the family unit, it is possible to share the love of a region, a country, a painter … This gives air and allows to forge links, despite the crises. The idea is to maintain the filiation around subjects which go beyond the simple framework of the family, and which open on the world, on the outside. ”

3. The moral bond: the transmission of values

“The moral bond is based on the transmission of our representations of the world as open as possible, such as welcoming differences, taking others into account… These values ​​are not transmitted through fine speeches, but by being oneself and by acting in accordance with the principles that we defend. Children are radical, whole. They hate pretense. We often hear them say: “My mother asks me not to lie, but she doesn’t stop.” The more our behavior is in line with the values ​​we advocate, the better the family climate will be, and the more serenely the transmission will be. We don’t all need to be on the same political side, we can have heated discussions. But having a common background unites the family. ”

4. The feeling of belonging: common rituals

“The feeling of belonging is the transmission of the good sides of the family, of its most enjoyable quirks, whether they are cooking recipes, habits, such as an afternoon nap, or family anecdotes. These rituals, we will not share them in the same way with each child: with one, it will be the Jewish origins of the grandparents, with the other, the practice of the Russian language … The sharing is done according to the affinities and interests of each. It creates a form of connivance, of complicity, which develops all the more the feeling of belonging of the child that he feels recognized and accepted in his singularity. ”

5. The ontological link: recognizing each person’s singularity

“The ontological bond consists in recognizing and accepting the personality of each member. We tend to lock our children in our projections, in what we want them to become, tend not to sufficiently recognize their sensitivity and their skills, not to allow them to use the family as a point of view. support so that they dare to realize themselves. Many say they have suffered from it. For the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, recognition goes through several stages. First of all, the parental gaze, which attests to the existence of the child and enhances it. Then the child’s messages to the parents: “You are unfair, too severe”… It is important to try to understand what is being said, even if it is not comfortable. The two parties must also recognize each other, particularly in adolescence: the parent, show that he hears the child, recognize his suffering if he experiences it; the child, knowing that he is responsible for what he says, telling himself who he is and where he wants to go, even if this differs from parental wishes. Finally, the child must be able to recognize what he has received. When he considers only the deficiencies, the faults of his father and / or his mother, he experiences a terrible feeling of lack and tends to reproduce the parental neurosis to stay in touch with them. If, on the other hand, he “reaffirms himself” with the positive sides of the parent, he comes out stronger: “My father was perhaps too absent, but without him I would never have been interested in literature.” Looking at this beneficial side makes it possible to no longer keep the parent’s flaws in oneself, to stop cultivating a heavy heritage, to exist by and for oneself serenely, in a family as “shaken” as it may be. ”

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