The term ” black sheep ” is used to refer to that member of the family who, due to their differences with respect to the group, breaks with the homogeneity or with the balance that has been achieved within it.

Origins of the term

This term comes from ancient times when the sale of sheep wool was quite a lucrative business.

It is known that the breeders of these animals from time to time encountered the unpleasant surprise that constituted the birth of black sheep, which did not coincide with the requirements of the buyers.

This problem acquired a worse tone related to religious phenomena in England in the 18th and 19th centuries where a black sheep was considered a bad omen, it was associated with a mark of the devil.

The black sheep of the family

When, when referring to a family, someone points to one of its members as the “black sheep”, he is referring to that individual who, due to various characteristics (physical or social), breaks with the identity of the group.

The family is a system formed by a specific group of people who share a series of norms, guidelines and pre-established rules in order to maintain its operation and ensure the well-being of its members generation after generation.

Other elements such as love, respect, loyalty, and group coercion are typical characteristics of family systems. However, there are members who openly refuse to adhere to the dynamics of the functioning of the system in a blind and unquestionable manner; These are the so-called black sheep.

     They are members of the family who challenge and perhaps even detract from the values ​​and precepts under which the system has always operated.

Despite having grown up in the same context as his peers, this person does not adapt or abide by the principles of his group, which is why his presence can cause discomfort in the rest.

These individuals have very little popularity or acceptance by the family group since it is considered a source of discord. They can even, in the most extreme cases, be excluded from meetings, celebrations, trips or simply are not communicated or asked for their opinion on issues important to the group.

The so-called black sheep is that person whose behavior can be considered rebellious insofar as it opposes what is established and how things should be done and even questions its validity.

Usually, at least in their first years of life, these people tend to feel like the eternal misunderstood or the person that nobody wants or gives the value that he deserves because something is wrong with him.

An individual can reach this conclusion after repeatedly hearing how he does everything wrong and in what way he is a bad example given that he does not resemble the rest of his relatives and exhibits bad behavior for not behaving in the proper way.

The black sheep usually feels that it does not belong to the family in which it was born, it may come to believe that the fact that it has fallen there is the work of an error of nature or is adopted. He permanently feels like he doesn’t fit into that group.

The contempt and little acceptance that these people have can generate insecurities and low self-esteem that will interfere with the normal development of their personality.

These people will live in a continuous dilemma about what is right and what is not. Unlike the rest of the members of his family group, he will have a personality that will make him question family values ​​and beliefs and that prevent him from taking them for himself as a guide to get along in life. Their questionable nature doesn’t make them bad people, they are just different.

Qualities of a black sheep

Despite the fact that black sheep are usually the center of criticism, as well as the excluded from the family, they are not necessarily despicable individuals or with clearly negative characteristics.

On many occasions, the great sin that the black sheep commits, which makes it the target of all criticism and attributes to it the characteristic of despicableness, is to be different.

Their inequality with respect to the group focuses on ways of thinking, acting, beliefs and convictions. They have characteristics whose interaction with family dynamics are not harmonious.

They, through their actions, break the harmony of the group, so to speak, and alter the functioning of the family.

The family system, like other groups, execute coercive measures on its members that help maintain order and ensure their permanence over time. However, when one of the members shows resistance, it endangers what has been perpetuated in time until now.

This is why black sheep are kept out of the way, because they constitute a danger to tradition. However, if the family manages to approach this from another perspective, they could take advantage of adversity to grow and evolve in view of the fact that, since no person dares to question what is taken beforehand as true and unbreakable, perhaps some practices or norms already they don’t keep up with the times.

On the other hand, if the members of the system proposed to work on inclusion and acceptance instead of giving force to exclusion, they would be strengthening as a system and giving way to tolerance as a value for life.

To the extent that tolerance is worked on by the group towards the affected member, the family as a system will acquire the ability to evolve and transcend time in a healthy way in order to provide well-being to its members. In addition, they will be able to take from the black sheep those knowledge, criteria, abilities and skills to merge them as a complement.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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