I once read a quote that said, “Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”
Not everyone wants to grow in a different direction, though. Some people aren’t branches; they’re trunks that keep the family standing in the face of storms. They’re simply always there, putting the well-being of the whole ecosystem above all else.
What about you? If you do these 7 things, your family is your highest priority.
1) Your family takes priority over your work life
Some people thrive on career-related achievements; others are so family-oriented that their relatives always take precedence over work.
Your little nephew’s sick and no one else can take care of him, so you take the day off.
Your mom wants to go on vacation with you for her birthday, so you push that business conference you wanted to participate in down the bucket list.
Your wife and kids gather around the family table for dinner, so you turn the phone off. That important client will just have to wait.
People whose family is their highest priority usually flourish through fulfilling relationships – they understand that when they’re old and brimming with memories, they won’t reminisce about the good old days of replying to emails within 5 minutes of receiving them or sorting through invoices all evening.
They’ll think about the people closest to them.
You work so that you’re able to support your family and spend time with them. To you, work is ultimately a means to an end, not your full existence.
2) You’re a big fan of quality time
So, you’ve turned your phone off to fully focus on your family dinner. That’s not all, though – chances are, you’re also deeply invested in what your family members have to say.
You don’t just sit there and think about work or the football match you saw yesterday. You’re completely present, asking your family questions about their personal lives, their hobbies, and the things they’re really passionate about.
You want to connect, not co-exist.
This is why quality time is a big one for you – you try your best to:
- Spend the weekends with your family
- Attend your children’s school performances
- Always remember your parents’ birthdays
- Organize family get-togethers to foster connection and love
Your family isn’t just family to you. They’re friends. And you value those friendships above all else.
3) You stay in touch even if you’re mad
Families fight. I think most of us can agree on that.
Living together in confined spaces year after year gives rise to a strong sense of familiarity, which can in turn breed conflict – especially if there are many clashing personalities within the same family unit.
However, people who truly prioritize the well-being of their family would rather work on the issue than cut someone out.
(Of course, cutting people out of your life may be necessary if your relationship is toxic or abusive. But those of us who are highly family-oriented might struggle to take that step because they still value the idea of family too much.)
If you and your sister fight, you make up an hour later.
If your mom’s behavior toward you is crossing your boundaries, you bring up the problem and try to solve it in a respectful way instead of bottling your emotions inside you and growing resentful.
If your dad’s going through a low point in his life and says something a bit hurtful, you still pick up the phone three days later just in case he needs help.
It takes an extra level of patience and kindness to be there for your family members even if you’re mad at them, so if this sounds familiar…hats off to you!
4) You know how to forgive and move on
Of course, you wouldn’t be able to give your relatives the benefit of the doubt and be there for them when they need you if you weren’t capable of forgiveness.
People who know how to truly forgive – that is, their forgiveness comes from a place of understanding and empathy – are quite rare.
That’s not much of a surprise, though. It’s very hard not to hold grudges toward your family because there are usually so many they pile on top of each other like a castle made of straw, ready to crumble upon you all any minute.
But if your family is your highest priority, you find your way through the maze of resentment and pain – not just for your relatives but also for your own peace of mind.
5) You’re willing to support your family financially
I have a friend whose parents are financially uneducated. The day their salary hits their bank accounts, they spend it all on frivolous things and then have nothing to eat for two weeks.
Now that she’s in her twenties and financially literate, she’s agreed to put down her bank account for all their income streams. Then she sends them their money in weekly installments so that they never go over the limit.
This is obviously a very extreme example – the world would be a better place if children never had to be put in such a parenting role.
But it illustrates the point. My friend’s family is her absolutely highest priority, and so she doesn’t mind managing their money for them, helping them out if they need it, and trying to educate them on the matter bit by bit.
If you’re so generous with your money that you’re more than happy to help your family, it’s a big sign they’re high on your priority list because they take precedence over all the luxuries you could have bought instead.
6) You model your life after your family’s expectations
One drawback of prioritizing your family over anything else is that you may put their wants and needs above your own.
This is exactly how doctors and lawyers end up working their lives away, doing things they were never passionate about in the first place just to make their parents proud.
If your uncles and aunts expect you to marry by thirty, it doesn’t mean you have to.
If your parents want to have grandchildren, it doesn’t mean you need to have kids.
If your older sister’s a musical genius, it doesn’t mean you should play a musical instrument, too.
However important family is, your own well-being is even more crucial. You’re not here to live your life for someone else. At the end of the day, you’re *you* – an individual human who happens to be part of a family unit.
Don’t kill that individuality. Find it and nurture it.
7) Your values are in accordance with your family system
Another one of my friends has quite different values from mine. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but when I asked her why she believed certain things, she just said that was what she’d grown up in.
The thing is, the more we spoke about it, the more we realized that her parents’ values were quite similar to those of my parents.
Yet I turned out completely different than her because I managed to detach myself from the family system and build my own identity based on my own experience of the world.
The difference between us?
She’s much more family-oriented. She’s very good friends with her parents, looks up to her older brother, and bends over backward for her relatives without uttering a single complaint.
If this sounds like you, try to have a think about which values you simply borrowed from your family and which ones are the authentic you.
It’s great to cherish, appreciate, and prioritize your family. But if the cost is losing your own self… the price may be too high.