Should I Share My Family Story If It Isn’t Happy?

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Your family and upbringing often influence your choices in a partner, for both good and bad, as well as your approach to relationships. As with any struggle in your life, it’s not what you’ve been through that matters, it’s how you’ve dealt with it.

It’s your story and everything in your life has developed your strength and character.

But, how much should you share with a new person you’ve recently met? What if you’re trying to impress someone and fear they’ll judge you, check out or run away?

The key is knowing what to share and when to share it.

The idea here is to not get lost in your story or the emotion of your story. Communication is audience based and that means you have to pay attention to how someone is receiving what you’re sharing. If your story is going on for more than five minutes, do a check in. Notice if the person you’re with is leaning in with interest or you’ve lost them completely.

Remember this: If you feel your’re being judged, it could be entirely in your own mind.

If you’re nervous or feeling judged during the discussion, you won’t come across like you have a handle on the situation. People aren’t as critical about your family background as you might think. We’re all dealt a different card in life and no one will hold you accountable if you weren’t born into the perfect family environment. The question someone might have of you is what you’ve done to heal, grow and create a better dynamic for your own life and family. That’s what matters most.

Tip: When asked about your upbringing, instead of running away or telling someone it’s none of their business, begin by thanking them for being interested enough to ask. Start there. Next, be concise, factual and honest. No one needs you to wrap your story in a pretty bow but it’s not a good idea to go on for an hour about your pain and suffering either. When you’re able to express logical facts without emotion, your story is easier for someone to digest and process. It doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings, it simply means you know how to communicate clearly with confidence and maturity. You’re not removed from the situation, you’re on top of it, grateful for your experiences because you know they’ve made you the strong person you are today.

During this holiday season, start finding ways to celebrate the family you’ve created as an adult. The friends you’ve gathered around you who love, support and admire you. And, if you’re one of the fortunate ones who had an ideal beginning in life, be compassionate to those who weren’t as lucky.

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