There is no ‘Goldilocks’ family: Don’t compare your dynamics with others

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Goldilocks taught us that everything in life has a manifestation that’s “just right” — a grand ideal that we should strive to reach. Porridge that isn’t too hot or too cold. Chairs that aren’t too hard or too soft. Beds that aren’t too high or too low. But families? Is there a “just right” version of those too?

With Family Weekend in the rearview mirror, we’ve seen plenty of Instagram posts of moms and daughters at the family tailgate, and we’ve witnessed little siblings and parents tagging along as their Baylor Bear showed them around campus. Now, the family fun is over, but just because the families left doesn’t mean the influence they have on our lives does too.

The connections we have with our families are still very much present in our lives, along with a new element: the families of those around us. Maybe you’ve witnessed your roommate call their sister for the third time in one day. Perhaps you overheard a classmate talking about the care package they just received from their mom. It’s hard not to compare those kinds of interactions to our own family dynamics, especially if the families of those around us seem more affectionate and caring in certain ways.

Be careful while mulling over these dynamics, and be mindful that families function differently — and that’s OK. The truth is, not every family is close, and some may even be at odds with one another. As a result, some students may even take their time apart during the semester as a welcome break from their family, and that’s perfectly fine. College can serve many purposes in addition to education — one of them being a new place to call home. Here, friends can be just as much of a family as any blood relations.

If you and your family do have a close relationship, the number of campus visits they make is not an indicator of how much they love you. It’s likely that parents of local students will be able to visit their children more often than parents of out-of-state students, who account for 43% of Baylor’s student population. For many of these students, this probably became abundantly clear when Texas families started pouring in for Family Weekend. However, don’t feel bad if you didn’t have visitors. It may not be as easy for some parents to make campus visits due to scheduling conflicts or travel costs. The truth is, they miss you just as much as the parents who can visit.

The same goes for the care parents provide even when they aren’t here. You may receive less mail or FaceTime calls from your parents — or an excess — depending on how they are adjusting to the change. Same goes for siblings: They likely mean to stay in touch, but they have their own crazy lives and are trying their hardest to get used to the new family dynamic created by your absence. So, try not to think of a quick text or a voice message as inferior to a phone call or a visit.

Different families have different ways of expressing love and closeness. Some families say “I love you,” while other families show it through actions or other methods. So, just because your family’s way of expressing affection doesn’t look the same as that of others, that doesn’t mean they love you any less.

You never know what kind of family dynamics someone is coming from, so remember to be sensitive in how you speak with someone about your family or theirs. And most of all, if you have someone in your life looking out for you and supporting you — no matter how your relationship with them compares to those of others, no matter how far away they may be — remember to treasure them and let them know, in whatever way you can.