Family of Origin – The Wheel of Connection Framework

Our Family of Origin sets the foundation for our personal community, connections, and the different kinds of friendships throughout our lives. From our living environment to the communities we associate with, the people we choose to be around, and even our values and beliefs, our Family of Origin lays the groundwork for these elements. Depending on how actively you cultivate your social wellness, your Family of Origin might completely set the tone for your own “Wheel of Connection Framework” for the rest of your life.

Why does this matter? Your support system is the foundation you build for the rest of your life. Having supportive people in your life impacts your willingness to take risks, make connections, follow your passions, take care of your health, and many other important life factors. In this article, we will delve into the significance of Family of Origin within the Wheel of Connection Framework and explore how it influences our overall social wellness

Defining Family of Origin

Your Family of Origin consists of the individuals you grew up with in your household—your parents, siblings, and possibly extended family members. Even if they didn’t reside in the same household as you, you may include extended family such as grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles in this category. Your Family of Origin represents the people with whom you share a fundamental “we are family” bond, encompassing both blood-related and legally-related relatives.

(Note: Your partner and children fall under the category of Family of Choice, as they were individuals you actively chose to include in your life.)

The Far-Reaching Impact of Family of Origin

Our Family of Origin profoundly impacts our beliefs, behaviors, habits, communication patterns, self-identity formation, emotional growth, boundaries, and cultural influences, thereby shaping all our relationships. They model connections, which is one of the primary ways we learn. They control our access to media, social media, and resources where we might also acquire connection skills. They allow certain societal messages to reach us and teach us what to value in life. Although we continue to develop these aspects throughout our lives, it is crucial to recognize that our Family of Origin has far-reaching effects on our friendships, connections, sense of community, and belonging.

Constantly Evolving Relationships

The relationships within your Wheel of Connection Framework are dynamic and ever-changing. For some people, their Family of Origin also falls into this fluid and changing category. It’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s experience with their Family of Origin is different. While some individuals may have an amazing family, others may not include them on their Family of Choice list. It’s crucial to be open-minded and recognize that for some people, their chosen family constitutes their sole support system.

If you want to hear a personal experience of why someone might do this listen to Episode 19 of the Friendship IRL – The One for “Little Alex.”

Expectations and Societal Messages

Family of Origin carries deep-rooted expectations, as the concept of “we are family” comes with numerous societal messages. Some of these messages include:

  • “Family will always love us.”
  • “You have to hug your family members.”
  • “Family will always be there for you.”
  • “You should spend the holidays with your family.”
  • “Family acts in your best interest.”

Understanding Diverse Experiences

However, each person and family decides which expectations they choose to uphold. While some individuals find that the expectations align with the actions of their Family of Origin, others may feel a disconnect between their expectations and their family members’ behaviors. This disparity might lead someone to seek out support in their life beyond their Family of Origin, whether that is community, friendships, and/or Family of Choice.

It’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s experience with their Family of Origin is different. While some individuals may have an amazing Family of Origin, others may not include them on their Family of Choice list. It’s crucial to be open-minded and recognize that for some people, their chosen family constitutes their sole support system.

The Wheel of Connection Framework

The Wheel of Connection Framework encompasses the individuals who form your personal community. As a quick refresher, the components that shape your social network include Family of origin, Formal community, Acquaintances, Familiar friends, Defined friends, Present friends, Historic friends, Family of choice, and Past friends and connections.

All these people, despite their varying connections to you, form an interconnected web of relationships that make up your overall support system. While they may not know each other personally, they are linked through shared stories or memories that you have shared with them. They collectively are the people who will support you through the various stages of your life.

Family of Origin Roots

Family of Origin relationships develops through various roots, including:

  1. Shared Experience Roots: Most Family of Origin members share extensive experiences, such as traditions, holidays, group chats, email chains, and shared photo streams. Over time, you also discover common interests with your Family of Origin.
  2. Emotional Intimacy Roots: Growing up in the same household fosters emotional intimacy within the Family of Origin. These individuals have witnessed our triumphs, struggles, and vulnerabilities. This emotional connection can create a sense of safety and understanding, providing a unique level of support.
  3. Story Roots: Our Family of Origin often contains strong story roots, whether or not we choose them or if they are present due to societal expectations. These stories contribute to our sense of identity and shape our understanding of family dynamics.

Final Thoughts

As we delve deeper into understanding the Wheel of Connection Framework, it becomes evident how our Family of Origin has impacted our relationships throughout our lives. It serves as a significant influence on our social wellness and contributes to our overall well-being. Ready to explore the other types of friends and individuals in the “Wheel of Connection Framework“? Dive deeper into understanding your personal community and expand your support system.

Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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