The family is said to be the basic unit of society. It is where life begins. It is the foundation of a person’s being. Family is a person’s pillar of strength; it gives one a sense of identity. That is why every person would want to know who their real family is, to give sense to their existence and feel complete as a person. However like any other individual, no family is perfect. Even conventional families have their flaws which some members feel uncomfortable with. I guess it depends on how the head of the family manages the household and each member therein. The kind of family that an individual has is shown by how the individual presents himself/herself to others and how each member of the family behaves reflects the heads of the family. That is why parents are a bit uptight and strict most of the time because as much as possible they want to establish a good name for the family in order to be respected by others. Hence, they try to guide every member of the family in doing what is considered acceptable to maintain that good name. However let’s not be misled, each one of us does not necessarily have to be wealthy or powerful with might of strength in positions, status quo or weapons to be respected. Respect is not imposed or required but earned. We will be respected even as an ordinary individual if we earn the respect of others. All we need to do is respect ourselves and respect others as much as we want to be respected because “respect begets respect”.
It may not come as a surprise to know that there are family members who do not see the importance of respect within the family and for the family. When members of the family are being admonished for their actions that seem inappropriate they feel like they are being deprived of their joy without even stopping for a moment to think of how their actions and decisions may affect the family. In most cases people take their families for granted. Maybe because they feel like they have been with them their whole life since birth and since it is where they were molded as the person they have become to this day, they feel like they are in a cell with set of rules to follow and expectations to meet thereby suppressing their freedom of expression and will to do what they feel like doing to attain their hopes, dreams and ambitions for themselves. Each one of us is gifted with intelligence and freewill from which our rights and duties are delivered. That is why at some point we dream for ourselves and we make decisions for ourselves, we create our goals and objectives from our minds for us to follow on our journey to life – one of the reasons why at some point some try to break rules and deviate from the norms because they see it as a hindrance to their ambitions and goals. This could also be the reason behind why at a certain time in our lives we need to be on our own to become independent so we can make a life of our own. But this occasion does not entail leaving and forgetting your family. It just means that we, at some point will have to make a life of our own and maybe eventually make a family of our own too to add to the expanding family tree; to pass on the family legacy; the family name and the values as well as knowledge inculcated to us by our forefathers.
Each family has its own identity. Like any other individual, every family has its own set of qualities and characteristics that are distinctive. Although some are not the conventional type of family we may most likely picture in our mind, what is important is the home they make for every member. A home is where the family lives together harmoniously. A house cannot be a home unless there is harmony among the occupants within it, otherwise a house will only be a structure for a supposed home. If a person feels without a home that implies they are experiencing a problem within their family or household and it will manifest in the person’s personality and way of thinking. The foundation of an individual’s values is from the family an individual comes from or belongs with. So it is not surprising that many define a person based on his/her family background although we make our own identity at some point and as an individual we have our own authenticity yet the shadow of our family remains with us not just in our name but in our personality as well. True that not all families are ideal or soothing to our liking but it is not for us to discriminate. We may not have the privilege of choosing our family to begin with; at least we could be grateful for the opportunity of life they had given us. And with that gift of life given to us, we have the opportunity in our lifetime to use our freewill to pass on or make a difference for the coming generations of our family line. Experience is the best teacher. We learn from our experiences. So from our different experiences in our family we determine right from wrong, good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate ways to nurture and rear a better and wonderful family we can share and be proud of. We may not have a perfect family but at least we can aspire to have a better one.
Needless to say I guess, but no matter what or how our family may be, they are still part of our life. We may not see each other eye to eye or agree with each other’s faults and opinions as well as ways all the time yet they are literally part of us because we have the same blood line. We are affiliated by consanguinity. And blood is thicker than water so no matter what we may become one day, we will always see our family. Although we may not always earn their approval and sympathy to our cause, we know that they will always be there for us when we fall. Even the meanest person on earth is still acknowledged by his/her family, no matter how every member of the family may want to disown him/her for whatever crime he/she may have committed that blemishes the name of the family without integrity and bad credibility, still they can never deny the fact that the person is part of the family.
On the other hand, our family is our refuge and strength. Notice that when a person feels alone because everyone has turned their back and closes their doors, the family will always be the ones that a person will seek refuge for comfort and strength to face trials and stand again after every fall. Maybe because we know well that they will always be there for us and the fact that we are family is something that is binding for life. When we are down and troubled (especially when broke), we always turn to our family for assistance and comfort. Sometimes, just the thought of knowing that they are there already brings comfort. Much more when they show their support and we feel their presence and love in every way, even just in the most simple ways bring not only comfort but ease, peace and joy making us feel better a bit even at our most troubled times. Yet families are taken for granted. Many keep things from their families. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the family is mostly the last to know a member’s skeleton they never turn their back even if it pains them to know. Though there are those who seem tough and hard, I think they just want their family members to know their feelings and perhaps try to change them to their preference but regardless what, they are still willing to accept “the prodigal son” in time. While in some cases they just want their family members to learn the hard way, to really inculcate in their hearts and mind the lesson from the compromising situation they got themselves into. Nevertheless, their being hard has its limitations because I think they can only do until when they still see that they can still pick you up when the circumstances gets worst where you just keep stumbling and fall. Only a person without a heart that is apathetic who will not be moved to act upon a family member’s cry because of the pain and trouble they are going through. As individuals we are not perfect, we all make mistakes. Though we are entitled to our personal opinions and decisions, we are also responsible for the outcomes of our own actions. We cannot always rely on someone else to clean our mess; we have to learn to do it on our own too. At least we know that we have a family who is there for us no matter what. Hence, we will never be alone after all.
Know that we all have our share of responsibilities and contributions to make to our family be it big or small. We have to be aware that in whatever we do, it will always affect our family as well. Our pride is their pride as much as our shame is also their shame. Each member of the family has a role to perform in keeping the family healthy and strong as a unit. The roles may not necessarily be designated upon but eventually you find that out in every turn of events that unfolds over time. Regardless of how small your participation in the responsibilities may be, it is considerably significant otherwise you may not have to do it at all.
Let us not take our family for granted because they will always be the ones left for us when everyone else turns their back and closes their doors. So no matter what happens we should learn to take care of our family as much as our own selves. How every individual’s attitude towards their family says a lot about them as a person. We may not have a perfect family or at least the ideal family we wished for but what is important is the home we have with our family. A family in harmony is a family that is happy.
- Lizzy Grace E. Johnson
LGJ, June 2011
Family is a person’s pillar of strength;
it gives one a sense of identity.
Like any other individual,
no family is perfect.
Our family is our refuge and strength.
Though we are entitled to our personal opinions and decisions,
we are also responsible for the outcomes of our own actions.
We cannot always rely on someone else to clean our mess;
we have to learn to do it on our own too.
A family in harmony is a family that is happy.