Family: The myths and truths

by Randy Kiel | January 30, 2024

Deacon Randy Kiel


Sit with this word. 

Reflect and ponder it. 

See where it takes your mind. 

It is a word that can move us from a sense of romance for the future to an exaggerated memorialization of the past.
Family brings joy, comfort, warmth, and security. It will also inevitably bring hardship, disappointment, grief, and conflict. The longer we live, the more likely we are to experience the full range of what “family” has to offer. These descriptors of what comes with family are not about people being “good” or “bad.” They are merely the fruit or consequences of being in a family relationship.

A family myth is usually generalized as some sort of ideology about topics such as: love, support, and caring that is needed from a family. Myths may also have an opposite side, such as: what family will never become or what family would never do to one another.

Occasionally, the way we think creates family myths such as: 

• “we will always…” 
• “my family would never…” 
• “since we are faithful…,” or 
• “bad things won’t happen to our family.” 

I’d like to say that these are hopeful thoughts, but actually they are not hope. They are myths. Hope must be based upon reality, such as “our hope is based upon Jesus Christ.” 

He is a reality. 

Family, being human, will eventually bring about many undesired experiences and emotions. People are the hardest part of life to do. Wherever two or more people are gathered, especially in a family, therein lies the moment-by-moment risk of tension, disappointment, hurt feelings, or conflict.

One of the more common myths is, “If we teach our children to love, then they will grow up and not have conflict.” But conflict will inevitably come. Trying to get through family conflict can often lead to even muddier waters than the conflict itself. 

There are common mistakes we make when attempting to resolve a family conflict. (It is worth the mention that conflict between little children is far more resolvable than between grown children. Most often, with the help of good parenting, small children are more malleable to confess their wrong-doings and forgive one another.)

When conflict happens within the grown-up family, resolve becomes more difficult due to many factors. The most common factor is called “that other person.” Perhaps, the following ideas may be helpful if you ever find yourself in the midst of unwanted family conflict:

• Accept your part in the conflict. Address the other person’s fault later. Humility heals; pride divides.
• Don’t expect the person to see your side. They can’t. They are hurt. Give compassion instead of needing to be understood.
• Don’t demand an apology. If you do, entitlement may be showing itself.
• Allow the other person to be who they are. Needing someone to change is about you, not them. Resolve comes from love, not control.
• Remember, not only are “they” hard for “us,” but likewise “we” also are hard for “them.” Family is not the enemy in life.
• Be careful about recall; no two people recall the same event the same way. Build for the future so as not to get stuck in the past.

The family myths that may develop are not inherently bad, but are most often expressions of what we have wanted in life and how we have wanted to be loved. They are formed from a personal sense of ideals. It is up to each of us to accept the life we have been given as well as the family into which we were born. 

It is all within the will of God, the Father in his Most Holy Trinity, who is our eternal family. Family is created in the image of God. Ours is very human, yet holy by the very fact that God created it; His family, the Trinity, is divine. Into this eternal family we are most welcomed. The longing for this most holy and eternal family is not a mythical longing but rather it is the fulfillment or our baptismal call. 

“Lord, may you guide our families through all conflicts and trials to the truth of your unending love and unceasing joy in whom you have created us to be.”

Deacon Randy Kiel serves Our Lady of the Americas Parish in Des Moines. Connect with him at

Randy Kiel

Deacon Randy Kiel is the founder of Kardia Counseling and serves Our Lady of the Americas Parish in Des Moines. Connect with him at​