There is your family-of-origin, your parents and siblings. Then there is the family you choose, your romantic partner and kids. If you belong to both of these groups, you will inevitably find yourself caught between the two at some point. More often than not, I encourage my clients to align with their chosen family when tensions arise.
You are born into your family-of-origin’s belief system, attitudes and longstanding patterns of behavior. Your family indoctrinates you into their way of life. This is, in fact, a large part of their job as your family-of-origin. Yet these learned beliefs and behaviors may or may not be all that effective for you as you live your adult life. In many ways, the romantic partner you choose is a more honest reflection of who you are as an adult. This person may not see eye-to-eye with your family-of-origin. Likely, this is even part of what drew you to this person: his or her significant differences from your original family unit.
When you feel yourself pulled one way by your family-of-origin, and another way by your chosen family, ask yourself this: Which of these directions is most authentic to your own core beliefs and values? Are you tempted to go along with your family-of-origin to avoid their disapproval? If your original family has rigid requirements for belonging to their club, you might want to re-evaluate your club membership. A truly healthy family-of-origin welcomes the change and growth of its members–even when that means its members adopt new religious beliefs, move across the country or opt out of certain family events and traditions.