Our cultural drift in recent decades prompt a gathering of thought on ” Family,” especially for the youth and the younger ‘ professionals ‘ who are most empowered in the society, physically and financially.
It is easy for them to ignore the others, because they can. But as a direct consequence of their short-sight and their emotional self – absorption, which they can afford, they reinforce and aggravate faultlines in the collective that includes them. In addition to the misery and overall loss their attitude causes, the impact of backwaves reverberating from without often leaves them too deplete, both materially and mentally.
We may ignore or force our way against such after-effects of attitudinal change while we are still in our twenties and thirties, but the loss and negativity keeps building up and crashes upon us when it becomes unavoidable and can no longer be prevented. What is at stake here is the care, love and happiness we all have in our lives, individually and as a group.
A bad mother is likely to raise a rapacious warped mind; a selfish father, without respect for common decency, will spawn a monstrous progeny. It is families that constitute our larger social collectives : locality, town, state, diverse communities religious or secular, province, professional groups and the nation.
I take no religious cues and quote no reference text in saying that a Family is an institution. It has a purpose or mandate, an organisation and structure, values and attitudinal norms, and behavioural processes to abide by. But mostly, it is not a formal or legal entity, has no documented basis to existence and functioning, and hence can be easily flouted and transgressed. They keep getting dysfunctional all the time and are destroyed within the span of a generation or two.
But the family is the closest and the most important group, of which each one of us are a part. To avoid going generic, I would present my view of a ‘ fictional ‘ family as it would be in Indian context and as, perhaps, I myself would be happy to have despite the imperfections and peculiarities of its individual members !
Values, Organisation & Roles
Purpose, Values & Rules :
01 To Pursue Collective Material Abundance and Emotional Happiness
02 To Promote Personal Growth and Intellectual Evolution
03 To Honour Individual Goal of Spiritual Fulfillment
Not every member of the family would be inclined or capable of furthering along the stated purposes and values. There would be those who would stop at the material and the emotional. Others would be more willing to put in the effort for educating themselves further and a rare one might pitch for more morally evolved strengths and awareness.
The personal values and rules of behaviour however is set for all by the instituted purposes : at cooperating among themselves for collective material abundance and behaving with sufficient care and mindfulness, especially towards the weak and more disadvantaged, to allow collective emotional happiness. The family could have additional commandments in their values system… say, ” We will never wrong others,” ” We will respect facts and truths against our opinions or assumptions,” ” We will always restore trust amongst each other and act in fairness,” etc.
The Father in the family is the head of the institution, above all, by virtue of his being in a position to best represent the family values, guide it through the present and keep its future in his trust.
The Mother, again, is a position in the family that keeps it together, serves its vital needs and answers the emotional call of individuals in the family.
It is clearly important that the Mother and Father have open and smooth communication line between them. They must have the maturity to come into conflict on occasions, even rage at each other on issues, but withdraw sufficiently well in time to reassess and cool off enough to understand the other’s stand. It is necessary to appreciate that what is on table is institutional in nature and not a matter of mere personal preference. For instance, a member’s need for food cannot be ignored just because one is busy or does not feel like it. Similarly, a decision to invest cannot be taken at the cost of essential need of a member or if it makes the family’s material life miserable.
All members are to be as children of the family. The adult must add to the family’s purposes to the best of their abilities. They also have a responsibility towards themselves which, if not attempted for, would adversely affect the family as a whole.
Children yet growing up must obviously strive to add to their learning, awareness of facts, experience and knowledge.
All children however, regardless of age, must defer to the Father and Mother of the family, which is working towards its purposes on behalf of all.
A family that does not have a place for personal imperfections and peculiarities, even vice, of individual members is heading for extinction. Institutionally, it should be able to encourage the individuals with patience and love, for them to establish a moderation in respect of such deviations. The other members, despite their conflicting personal values, should be able to accommodate the departing behaviour and accept the person for what he or she means to the family in institutional terms.
No member of the family, including the Father and the Mother, should be expected to be a paragon of ALL personal virtues at ALL the time. And, it is actually easier to accept the odd weakness or failing of anyone when the our primary identity is institutional, rooted in the family.
Inviting you all to raise a happier family and to contribute better to the happiness of one you are already a part of !