This weekend I've been taking care of a friend's cat while the family went out of town. On my first trip to feed the cat and clean her litter box I began to think about how differently we treat friends and family.
I did things for this cat that I don't do for my own, or that I ask friends to do for mine when I go away. On every visit, two a day, I cleaned her box, changed her water, played with her and of course fed her. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't take such good care of Crash and Burn. I do feed them, of course, but the box isn't always clean and I don't always play with them. In fact, sometimes I get impatient when they come to me for attention. That has got to change. I'm going to try to treat my cats as if they belong to someone else.
Putting that on a human level, do we give family the same respect that we give our friends. When my son started in nursery school, my husband and I, along with other parents were required to attend classes on Parent Effectiveness Training. I had subscribed to many of the ideas of this program. There are two basic ideas. One is "active listening". What is the feeling behind the words, really listen to what is said, how it is said, when it is said, etc.
The other idea is to treat our family the way we treat our friends. I cringe when I hear the way some parents speak to their children, or the way spouses speak to each other. If they are rude in public, what must their home life be like, because I'm sure they're not rude to their friends.
I have always tried to treat my family with the same respect I give my friends. I hope I have succeeded.