07 June 2011

On Family

I truly envy those people who have grown up in strong families in which they've received encouragement and help since day one.  These people aren't necessarily those who change the world or fight and claw their way to the top of things, but they're the people who go about life with a quiet satisfaction, who look at success and failure both as normal parts of life, who know always that there is someone there to help them, no matter how bad any situation may get.  These are the people who make good friends, for they're used to being treated like people, not like kids, and they're used to a life that's full of realistic expectations.

Family life must include discipline, but too often discipline turns into a reflection of the authority figure's own insecurities.  An insecure person disciplines far too much or not at all, and both are disastrous for children.

Family life must include love, unconditional love, but that love must be tempered with realistic expectations of children and of spouses, and when someone isn't living up to those expectations, that someone must be held accountable for his or her actions.

Family life must include security, but risk-taking must also be modeled.  Life without risk is no life at all--it's stagnant and boring, and nothing new is invited in ever, so no one learns more about life and other people.

In his novel Island, Aldous Huxley explores the concept of community as family, and explores a culture in which everyone sees everyone else as family--if a child isn't getting along with his or her parents at the moment, he or she goes to live with someone else for a few days.  The parents don't see this as a threat to their love or authority--they see it as a natural cooling-down period, a time for reflection and for taking a break from each other.

So many family problems come about because we're insecure--we're afraid someone won't love us any more, we're afraid they won't respect us, we're afraid we'll lose our security.  The people I know from strong families never fear any of these things--they know that love is strong and that the ties that bind are healthy and loving and secure, and they're able to give much more to others and to themselves because they know that they're supported.

I guess the problem is this:  What if our families aren't like this?

The answer is simple--look for family members.  Not all of our brothers were born into our biological family.  I have more sisters than my biological ones--they're people whom i love dearly, and who will always be there for me.  I've met other parents, and my second mother is as dear to me as my biological mother, though the tie that I have with my biological mother will never be matched.  Find the people who accept you for who you are, and who love you for being that person.  Look for sisters or brothers, not lovers, and your world will be transformed into a lovely, secure place in which even the disasters that are bound to happen won't destroy you or those you love, for you're part of a huge family that one day will recognize itself as such--the human race.

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