Family Values

As the Xmas holiday season approaches, my thoughts turn to a theme that is often on my mind: family values in today’s society. It seems to me that there has been a shift in recent times that is both troubling and possibly disastrous  to the quality of life we may have in the future. I was brought up with the idea that there was nothing more important than the family and that it was imperative to take the time and effort needed to keep those relationships alive.  Of course, one of the big problems today is that the families have become so “decentralized”; when I grew up, practically everyone that was related to me lived nearby and it was easy (and “normal”) to get together quite often. I thoroughly enjoyed these family gatherings and their significance changed as I got older. As a child, I could enjoy a carefree day playing with all my cousins (the best of times!) and, as an adult, I spent my time freely talking with all my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles , etc.(I have to admit here that during my teen years, I drifted slightly away from this but came to value it more as I became an adult and a parent). We openly discussed what was happening in our lives and celebrated our victories and empathized about our hardships. There were very few secrets and  everyone knew what was going on in everyone else’s lives. Today, most families are scattered all over the country (and some outside the US) and it is difficult to physically gather for any casual social event. Of course, we now have the internet, email and Facebook to keep us informed and “in touch” but that hardly takes the place of actually spending some quality time with relatives.

The real issue for me is the lack of emphasis that this generation puts on honoring these family relationships. I know this a generalization and that there are still a few who find it important to stay connected, but mostly I don’t see all that much effort. The area that really bothers me the most is in regards to how grandparents are relegated to the “back burner”. My wife, Helga, and I, feel tremendously fortunate (and thankful) to have been raised in the same physical house as our grandparents. We’ve often talked about how great it was to be able to visit with them and to feel safe and unconditionally loved while in their presence. For me, it was a haven that I could visit anytime I wanted; a refuge that I could escape to no matter how badly things were going in my “other world”. There were always kind words of encouragement, a warm hug and loving smiles, a feeling of total acceptance and safety. My tears would be wiped away and all my troubles would disappear. And, maybe more importantly, I learned a tremendous amount about life from them. Not so much in their words but by their example and their way of “being”. The elderly are an irreplaceable source of knowledge and wisdom that has been gathered through the trials and tribulations of a long and often tumultuous life journey.

Sadly, in today’s society, we relegate this great resource to nursing homes and other “elderly care ” units, leaving them to rot in loneliness and despair. We are all too busy with our own tiny, shallow lives to take the time and effort to care for them (or even to visit or call them!). I have to admit I’m as guilty as anyone else in regards to this and I often fall short in meeting my own expectations. But, as I grow older and I personally feel more of the pain of isolation and neglect, I’m forced to reflect on the severity of the situation. Everyone is a loser in this scenario (if you don’t see how this is so, please go back and re-read what I’ve written above) and our world becomes a little less meaningful. a little less loving and a lot more inconsequential , jaded and empty.

In closing, I have to say I have no solution to this; it really is a matter of each person examining their own lives and looking objectively and deeply at how this affects them personally,  and how it touches the lives of those they love. As the holiday season approaches and you are wondering what gifts to give, maybe it’s time to contemplate how powerful it would be to give the easiest gift of all: Your Self!

Many blessings and a Joyous, Peaceful, Prosperous and Loving New Year to you all….

7 thoughts on “Family Values

  1. I agree with your sentiments on this completely and I happen to be an expert on the subject, as about ninety percent of the roughly two thousand visually impaired people I have served over the past ten years have been eighty plus and many were in the bleak senior living facilities to which you refer — places where they sit and languish, while their grand children miss out on the teaching about life they could have offered them. The best thing I ever did in my life was taking care of my invalid father for the last three years of his life, instead of sticking him in one of those places.

    Another take on the “family values” thing is the disturbing direction the right has taken in defining them. Many confuse bigotry as being a family value as evidenced by the current hoopla over repealing don’t ask don’t tell. My message to them:
    Bigotry is not and never has been a family value — it is a social disease

    • Hey, Ross… thanks, again, for visiting and commenting… I, too, am concerned by the misguided “values” of some of the conservatives… however, their ideals are not shared by the majority of the “right”… just like terrorists only represent the radical fringe of the Muslim religion, these ignorant nut jobs are in the minority. My only concern is the unwillingness of the masses to educate themselves enough to be able to make an informed choice. If enough Americans continue to play lip service to these “hate mongers”, we are indeed in a lot of trouble!

  2. Maybe the majority of the right is like you say, but they have a minority of the power and are being led by their noses by the far right, so what does it matter that they aren’t personal facists. The right-wing nut-jobs have everybody dancing to their tune — with Palen, Cheney, Rove and Gingritch and their ilk on the loose out there, anything could happen.
    You could even have something as strange as having the Supreme Court in the pocket of big business. Oh wait! they are already in their pockets, as evidenced by that recent travesty which allows any group to buy a politician by just flooding the airways with whatever kind of lies they want to print without the requirement of having to say who is paying for said ad.– under the guise of free speech? What crap.

  3. Oh,
    And one question:
    Are you seeing my posts each time I make them? Do you get an email like I do when you make a post? If you haven’t checked my blog out lately, go ahead, I have added another post and pictures as well.

    • Yes, I see ur comments as soon as u make them and I get an email notification when it is posted. Is that what u were calling me about… sorry, I missed the calls.

      Will visit ur blog soon… later, dude!!

  4. Another comment on the family:
    The conjugal family — generations of people living in the same household and highly depending on one-another — has been disappearing especially in this country since the industrial revolution. Before that almost all families were multi-generational in the same house. Ethnic communities — Italian and Mexican to give two examples — have been much better at resisting this trend, but are rapidly being torn apart by the nature of economic conditions. Because people are not tied to a particular place any more and are ready to move anywhere they can make more money, it is next to impossible to hold the conjugal family together anymore. But don’t worry Frank, the conjugal family will be coming back by necessity as greed and stupidity usher us on our way back to the stone age.

    • So true, Ross… and, unfortunately, those “new values” are spreading through Europe. Helga’s family is starting to “de-centralize” and are becoming more “Americanized”. The “me generation” is a virus and is spreading throughout the world!! And, yes, the conjugal family unit may be returning… I think I need a bigger house!!! LOL

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