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Whether our family life is gloriously ideal or quietly chaotic, we all need to carve out a space of our own. Family gatherings—not to mention families in general—can be energetic and emotional, often prompting us to sacrifice the sense of self we usually fiercely protect for the greater good. While enthusiastic participation and personal downtime might seem at odds, interweaving the two can create a much more effective way of engaging with our loved ones.

Even the most altruistic of humans can become flat-out exhausted by the social nature of family life. During childhood we’re taught to be independent individuals, yet adult family time often stirs an oddly paradoxical expectation to share everything. “Even prison gives you some personal space, so why not family?” a friend once quipped. We probably never spent this much time together when we lived under the same roof—and loyalty should not require us to quell our independence and spend


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Seventeen

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