Our Family has a “Disruptor”, “Disciplinarian”, “Peacemaker” and “Permissive”

If you have more than one child, chances are they fit into a familial pattern.

One of your children is a people pleaser and rule follower that goes with the flow and rarely disturbs the peace.

And, the other child is not that. 

I have both of those children, and my “other child” is the gift that keeps on giving. Time and time again, over the last 19 years she has forced deep transformation and driven meaningful change and exponential growth for me, my wife, our coupleship and our family.

After 20 hours in painful labor, with an ineffective epidural, we heard a snap. During Jake’s birth he had turned around and was posterior. The snap was at the end of a very chaotic birth and sent Julie into hysterics. In a previous life, Julie was an attorney that specialized in birth trauma cases and she was sure that Jake’s shoulder had just snapped. She thought he would have dysplasia for the rest of his life. But, she was wrong. It was her tail bone that cracked. If you have ever had one, a broken tailbone is the gift that keeps on giving. The recovery period can be years and it was.

As a result, our next child would be delivered via C-Section. That is why Blair’s birth was very different from our first experience. It was scheduled and went off without a hitch. At the time of her birth, we were still choosing between two names: Blair and Rory.  As I stood there, over the operating table with Julie behind the curtain unable to see when they pulled her out, I knew indisputably who she was – Blair.  The doctor holding her up for me to see before anyone else had laid eyes on her.  It was love at first sight. And, how juxtaposed and ironic as compared to the roles they have adopted, were both of their births.  Jakes “The Peacemaker” birth was a battle and Blair “The Disruptor’s” birth was peaceful.

By the way, the “word” Blair is strongly believed to be territorial in origin, being derived from the Gaelic “Blar” which signifies a battlefield. She is a warrior: Loyal. Courageous. Honorable. Resilient. She is also a Disruptor; Someone or something that introduces change and challenges the established norms, often bringing about transformation. She is: Impulsive. Boundary Pushing. Challenging. Headstrong.

Both of our children have played critical roles in our family’s evolution.

Although we have always known that Jake is The Peacemaker and Blair is The Disruptor, it was and is our job to push for balance in both of their roles.  Disruption can lead to conflicts, misunderstandings, and emotional strain within family relationships. It was/is always critical for us to balance Blair’s desire to challenge by stressing the need for empathy, respect, and an understanding of the unique dynamics and needs of all of us.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil. Balancing a parent’s focus equally on each child is challenging, when one child demands more attention. There is a tendency for the “go with the flow” child to fall through the cracks or get lost. In order to create balance, there needs to be a conscious decision and deliberate plan to afford both the time they need. And, for the record, that does not include the time spent during conflict with a child or in transit or attendance at any of their extracurricular activities. It means spending meaningful time with both (or more) children, doing activities that are mutually enjoyable. Julie grew up in a family with four children and her mother/father would schedule a day of time individually with each child on a monthly basis. One day a month, dedicated solely to each child, can make a huge difference.

I have always struggled with conflict. I am not good at engaging in it. Most likely rooted in my upbringing, I shy away from it. Digging into my familial patterns growing up, there was considerable dysfunction. There was an imbalance of expectancies which created an environment of unpredictability in my home. When I got thrown in jail, there was no real punishment. But, when I accidentally crashed into him on the couch when me and my brother were fighting, we got our asses kicked. My dad’s treatment and retribution, often times, didn’t fit the crime. This familial patterning has shaped my behavior in many ways. One of those ways is in the familial role I play. I am the “Permissive”. And, of course, Julie is the “Disciplinarian”. And, these roles have caused their fair share of conflict.

That conflict rarely rears its head from the actions of the Peacemaker in the family. Often times, that battle is instigated through the Disruptor. The truth is, Blairs illumination of our role imbalance has forced meaningful change and there are many other examples of this exposure that have led to profound insight and change. There is a minor caveat. All of our roles: The Peacemaker, The Disruptor, The Permissive, and The Disciplinarian are not played 100% of the time. There is role reversal.  Blair has been the Peacemaker and Jake, a few times, has been the Disruptor as Julie has been the Permissive and once or twice, I have been the Disciplinarian.

I will leave you with this…

“Dear Mr. Vernon,

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us — in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Breakfast Club”

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