Content Warning: Please be advised that the following article discusses topics related to family, abuse, neglect, isolation, and other potentially triggering topics. Please read with discretion.
Familial love is a type of love often directed at family members, whether biological, adoptive, external, or chosen. Ancient Greek scholars called this love "storge," an unconditional, familial type of love. Although conflicts can arise in families, familial love may be essential for human development, mental health, and well-being.
1. It Helps You Form Secure Attachments
How your caregivers meet your needs as an infant and child forms the attachment style that can follow you into adulthood. Your social needs include love and belonging, which can be essential for development and safety. Those who feel a strong sense of familial love growing up may form secure attachments as adults. A secure attachment style can mean:
You feel safe setting boundaries
You can end relationships that aren't healthy
You know you have people to turn to
You know you have yourself to turn to
You feel self-assured and healthily confident
You can fall in love and be yourself with others
You feel open to having healthy conversations and communicating directly
You can actively listen when others have conflicts to bring up
However, there may be hope if you do not form a secure attachment. Studies show that you can change your attachment to have support, understanding, and self-actualization.
2. It Can Make You Feel Safe
Having a family that loves you can make you feel safe. Sources show that having a healthy support network can make you safer by allowing mental and physical health. Additionally, if something goes wrong in your life, you might be able to lean on family and have somewhere to go if you lose your home. If you do not have a healthy family, you may feel unsafe.
3. You Can Pass It On To Your Own Family
If you felt loved and cared for as a child, you may want to pass on that sense of love and care to your own family. That could include any of your own children, your partner, or the pets you adopt. It might also include yourself or your chosen family if you choose not to have a traditional family.
In some cases, even if you do not feel familial love growing up, you might feel motivated to pass on care to your family in hopes of providing what you did not receive and finding healing.
4. You Can Choose What "Family" Means To You
Familial love can be subjective. If you don't feel loved by your biological or adoptive immediate family, you might choose other people in your life to be part of your chosen family. It could comprise friends, distant relatives, coworkers, or people that make you feel safe. You may feel similar love toward them that you might have for the family members that aren't in your life.
5. Love Is Essential For Physical And Mental Health
Studies show that love can promote chemicals in your brain that make you feel optimistic and happy and has several health benefits, including reduced blood pressure. Feeling love toward your family or being loved by your family can make you feel happier, safer, and protected. Additionally, if you have mental health concerns, having a healthy family might reduce your symptoms' severity. However, love is not a cure, and reaching out for support from a professional can be essential if you're experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
6. You Might Have A Support System
Many individuals who experience family love might also feel they have a support system in their family. They may be able to reach out for help if they encounter challenges in life, such as financial loss, career setbacks, or difficulty with health. Health problems can be unexpected, and having a healthy family might offer you the chance to stay somewhere free of charge with people who love you while you heal.
Although some people have this option, families may not always have the resources to support everyone within the family. That doesn't necessarily mean that your family doesn't love you. However, if your family abandons you, kicks you out of your home, or refuses to offer support during tough times, it might be a sign that they are acting unhealthy or abusive toward you.
If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.
7. You Can Gain Confidence
A family that loves and supports you could make you feel confident in your abilities. If your family always attended your games or concerts at school and always supported your passions, you might feel safe trying any avenue in your adult career or schooling. You might also feel confident in making new friends or trying new hobbies.
8. You May Gain Social Skills
If your family showed love through family gatherings, social support, jokes, and family nights, you might feel more comfortable socializing with others as an adult. Your family can teach you how to interact with others healthily.
9. It Can Be Unconditional
Familial love may be unconditional, according to ancient Greek scholars. Knowing you have a family or family member who will always love you no matter what can feel empowering and give you a sense of belonging.
10. You Can Learn Life Skills
Finally, families may teach you life skills through familial love. For example, as a child or teen, you might learn how to clean your room, wash your laundry, and apply for scholarships. As an adult, your parents might help you learn how to pay bills, set up a bank account, and take out a loan. These skills can be essential for adult life and may feel easier to learn if you have older and more experienced adults on your side.
What To Do When You Don't Have A Family
If you do not have a family that you consider close or healthy, or you are in a family where the benefits of familial love don't seem to be present, you might be experiencing an unhealthy family dynamic. In these cases, reaching out to your family or trying to connect might have been something you've already tried and failed to do.
It is not your fault if your parents, caregivers, or family do not treat you healthily. Although you may be able to repair some aspects of your relationship through techniques like family therapy or open discussion, some individuals choose to go "no contact" with their families and try to form chosen families.
You can reap the benefits of familial love as an adult in chosen family relationships. For example, you might hold "family gatherings," "Friendsgiving," or "Galentine's Day" events with your friend group or distant relatives. Or you may create your own traditions with your created family and show familial love to your children, who may show it back to you. If you have pets, you can spoil them with treats and toys or spend time with them in nature. Not everyone has a traditional family, and they might still find healthy ways to cope.
If you are struggling to find familial love in your life or want to learn healthy methods of connecting with family members, you can try counseling. Whether you want to try family, couples, or individual therapy, a therapist can offer professional advice and support you emotionally.
For those who find the idea of therapy overwhelming or face barriers to treatment, online counseling can be a rewarding option. You can choose between phone, video, and live chat sessions in online counseling with your licensed therapist. They can also send you worksheets and PDF files with further resources to utilize outside your sessions. Additionally, studies show that online therapy is highly effective for families experiencing long-term stress and serious mental health conditions.
If you are interested in trying counseling, online platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples can allow you to connect with a therapist from home and match with a counselor who fits your preferences and concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are a few frequently asked questions regarding love and family.
What Is The Meaning Of Familial Love?
Familial love may be defined as non-romantic love exchanged between family members, whether the family is biological, adoptive, extended, or chosen.
What Is Love Between Family Members Called?
The love between family members might be referred to as familial love, family love, storge, or unconditional love.
What Is Love Between Friends Called?
The love between friends may be referred to as platonic love, spiritual love, philia, or friendship.
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