I have learned that understanding how to cope with divided loyalty starts in our heads. How can a person handle divided loyalty? By finding themselves placed in the position of choosing a side.
Rule #1. As a woman after 50, you should have established your personal thoughts on loyalty. First and foremost is to be loyal to yourself, your principles, and your boundaries.
This rule or principle will bode you well when you are faced with how to divide your loyalties within your family, your friendships, the workplace or in your community and country.
As a young and middle-aged woman, I used to teeter and totter with how to handle loyalty. Especially when I was faced with divided loyalties or choosing sides.
My instincts told me what to do, but my ability to take a stand was, at times, wishy-washy. Because I wanted to be loyal to both sides or I wanted to be loyal to one side but didn’t want to hurt or raise the ire of the other side. Or I wanted to seek the approval of one person over the other!
Darling, I did not get it! I did not understand that loyalty starts with self-loyalty.
Teaching Children and Grandchildren How to Handle Divided Loyalty
Imagine when young children and young adults are faced with dividing their loyalties when their parents’ divorce or constantly argue. They don’t know what to do, especially when one parent asks for their loyalty over the other parent. A young child or young adult does not understand Rule #1, and they wind up filled with guilt, sadness, anger, and fear.
Your goal as a mother or grandmother should be to teach them Rule # 1. This is a valuable lesson that they will carry in their heads throughout their lives. It will take time to sink in, but the more you explain, giving examples, the stronger they will become. They’ll acknowledge the importance that loyalty starts in their head.
I am going to tell you a true story that happened to me and my brother when we were children because examples often are the best teacher.
A Personal Story On Divided Loyalty
As a child and young adult, my parents did not teach me how to handle divided loyalties. Why? Because they did not understand the ramifications, it would have on their children.
On my mother’s side of our family, there was beautiful harmony among all the members all the way down the line. My mother’s family wrapped their arms around one another all the time. When there was a scuffle, it never caused any division. I loved spending time with everyone. To this day, I am grateful to all of them for their love, laughter, support and wisdom. They were all great role models.
On the other hand…
Because of divided loyalties on my father’s side of the family, brought on my an event at the beginning of my parent’s marriage, my brother and I were innocent victims of growing up in a divided family—our extended family—not our little family of four.
The encounter had to do with my mother, who was 18 years old at the time, a new bride. She was blamed for something that was not her fault. My father, who had always been close to his four brothers, was 100% loyal to my mother. He became a victim, too.
The Fallout of Divided Loyalties
My brother and I grew up as outsiders because my mother and father backed away from my dad’s extended family and never returned. It was not a family split like the Hatfields and the McCoys! It was a silent split. My parents put their energies into my mother’s side of the family. Obviously, my brother and I had no choice in their decision.
We did attend events, and my grandfather came to visit every Sunday, but we were by no means ‘the family that plays together, stays together.’ I always felt set apart. My family was large, and I wanted their love and friendship. I have 14 first cousins.
My brother and I missed out on spending time with a great family because my parents did not have the emotional tools to know how to heal the schism. My father, who was a wise man, did not know how to cope with the problem. Wiser than most, he was married to a very young and strong-willed woman who did not know how to cope either. It was sad for all.
But, on a good note, today, my cousins and I Zoom every few months for a few hours. I am trying to make up for lost time.
My story can give you room for thought if you have a family schism of any sort. Might you be the one in your family to use Rule #1 and then take action?
Teaching Loyalty To Our Grands And Young Adults
I think there should be a class in every classroom across the United States on ‘Loyalty and the Repercussions of the Lack of Loyalty.” Why?
Because… loyalty is a virtue. Don’t you agree?
For your younger grandchildren, you might consider purchasing two of Dr. Suess’s books on the topic of Loyalty at Amazon; Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who, and for older grandchildren and adults, mention the movie, The Outsiders.
Principles and Boundaries
Dividing your loyalties should never come at your expense.
RULE #2: I have learned that loyalty to everything I do should never come at the expense of my integrity. My moral compass has boundaries and principles that I adhere to in all situations. This took me a long time to develop—to always take a stand that honors my boundaries and principles.
How To Divide Your Loyalty And Find Joy
Once you have learned the benefit of Rules #1 and 2 you can show strong support to opposing family members, a group, a community, and your country.
When you are loyal to yourself, you will make better decisions and feel happier and more at peace with yourself.
Just lately, I received an email from a respected friend asking my Ultimate Concierge and me to donate money to a political campaign. My immediate instinct was the wrong approach. First, I thought about his feelings before I thought about my answer.
I did not want my answer to disappoint him, nor did I want him to have bad feelings toward me and my Ultimate Concierge. I was thinking backward, darling.
Loyalty is detrimental when my allegiance to the other person becomes detrimental to me.
Here was my response.
Thank you for reaching out to us.
We have decided to give our money to causes where we feel it will make a difference. It is not politics.
We should all do what makes us comfortable. I hope you understand.
Susan and Shelly
Rule #1 prevailed. I felt empowered and happy when I hit send. My answer guaranteed me a clean conscience and a positive night’s sleep.
The ability to take an honest stand will have lasting results. So many women are afraid to step out of the box and show their loyalty, especially when they are torn by allegiances or up against a large group.
Darling, the benefits will always outweigh your fears.
Loyalty should never be blind or submissive.
I think being a loyal woman is being devoted and vulnerable and standing up for your principles but never being naive.
Loyalty demands a woman’s integrity and she should be consistent. By consistent, I mean consistent to her partner, family, friends, and co-workers. Loyalty should flow into all facets of her life.
Standing Up Against Disloyalty
I have endured the posturing of several people who professed their loyalty and to people who do not know how to divide their loyalty. And I am sure many of you have had the same experiences.
I have been fooled and hurt because I wore my heart on my sleeve. In other words, I was naive. I loved the carefree feeling of trusting others, never realizing how many people feel guiltless. It is the small-town girl in me that I would not trade for anything. Thank you, Kankakee by the Sea.
I have asked myself over and over again, “Should I forgive their disloyalty and betrayals? Should I forgive them?” Perhaps.
Will I ever trust their loyalty again? Will they ever gain my respect? No.
Who was the loser?
They were. They are.
Have you found yourself in a situation where your loyalties are divided? Please share in the comments!