Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Family Part I

What is a family?

Certainly the term “family” has evolved over history and especially the last few decades. Within this article, I have elected not to discuss the various types of families defined by the typical Webster’s dictionary. I also do not plan on discussing couples as being defined by tradition or non-tradition. The main focal point will be what I believe to define family and family values that I hold.

A little history

For myself; being adopted I never had the chance to meet my birth parents. My birth mother is still alive and I write her on occasion. My birth Father passed away years ago due to an ongoing heart condition. My adoptive parents were very traditional in most ways. They expected certain things of me, much like most parents would. The only thing I expected from them was basic necessities, love, compassion, and raising me (values instilled) until maturity (18 years of age). I was never rebellious; I attribute that to an early onset understanding, and respect of my adoptive parents choosing to take on the responsibility of me when it really wasn’t their obligation to begin with. Some could often become rebellious in such instances, but I chose to seek understanding through my experiences and situations.

While some would often want to reach out to their birth parents, I find that the strongest bonds are created by shared memories and experiences during childhood through adulthood. So seeking to create a relationship without experiences (whilst having high expectations) has always been challenging to me. I admit that these experiences come through time but the parent also has a responsibility to be part of the experience while that time is opportune. I did later find out that I also had a brother that was also given up for adoption; we finally met when we were both adults and both had our own families. I soon found that my brother and I, even with so much time apart between our childhood and adulthood, we both shared so many like traits.

I was never really much of a self-centered person so I didn’t really have an aggressive attitude; in fact there were many times where I felt insignificant in the mix of everyday life. In today’s society that may seem odd, but for me it didn’t. I would rather listen to someone else tell stories or recant memories rather than me recounting them to someone else. I think some of the better memories I can recall would be some of the things my father used to tell me about working a 40-hour job versus becoming an entrepreneur. My father was a welder by trade and held various other titles for a number of years before deciding to be his own boss. I would like to think that some attributes are instilled from my parents and the remaining--left to my current needs.

My thoughts about family

Certainly, within most families there are civil rivalries that extend from the oldest, middle, and youngest. For me, I didn’t really pay that much attention to such pursuits, I always viewed them as trivial (subjective, perhaps). By that, I mean that these are views that stem from a personal point of view from which a child or adolescent would not ascertain to a utilitarian view. From a parent standpoint, I knew that they (my parents) often made decisions that they attributed to be the best scenario for all at that instance. Did everyone benefit from those choices, most likely not, but the thing I attribute from such decisions (not mine) is that I can’t always see every side of the argument or situation. Perhaps, I didn’t always show this in my actions, but I had this inane sense that it was so. Notwithstanding I often find myself asking the logic behind many decisions (that are not my own) but realize that I do not always see all things; I am vastly limited to what is surrounding myself and my own thoughts. Keeping an open mind often means being open, what a concept.

So what do I believe are the traits of a family?

• Love (mutually reciprocated)

• Respect (earning your keep, teamwork, sticking strong to your words)

• Helping (reaching out, giving and receiving help when in need)

• Understanding (not always a one-way street)

• Trust (learning to put trust, despite not fully understanding)

• Honor (respecting of self and others)

• Sharing and creating memories (good and bad)

• Sharing experiences (good and bad)

• Learning from experiences and sometimes mistakes (parents and siblings)

• Reliance (but not to be ever-ending one-way over extending expectations)

• Teaching/Learning independence (arising self-reliance)

• Realistic expectations (of parents and children)

• Struggles and hardships (health, wealth, sickness, poverty, relocation, etc.)

• Caring (sometimes tough-love)

• Tolerance (not so much criticizing especially of the past)

• Forgiveness (letting go of the past, ego, and pride)

• Guidance (willingness to be open and lucid but not to extremes)

• Respect (even if there is a disagreement)

• Clarity (seeking authorial intent, not baseless conclusions)

• Listening and understanding (ability to listen and discern)

• Reasoning (valid and sound rationality)

• Self-Assessment (reaching for perfection of one’s self before criticizing others)

• Space (learning not to become overbearing)

There are a number of other traits that I have not listed but for brevity sake these are some of the most difficult to obtain. Throughout the good and bad times, it should be the good times that are reminisced, not so much the bad times. Focusing too much on the bad only leads to behavioral and mental (thought processes implied, not disorders) problems.

I am certain most everyone has been wronged or thought they have been wronged. The problem is there are no do-over’s (at least until time machines are invented), and we can’t take back the negative and hurtful things we have said or done. I find that it helps to become more aware of things that trigger anger and learning how to prevent such things from taking over your thoughts and your life. I am not much one for “karma” but I do feel that by virtue--of a no reward basis, you should always do the right thing. I realize that we may not at times do or say the right things, but forgiveness goes a long way in building a relationship within a family.

In most cases there are always two-sides to the story and somewhere in-between you find truth. This truth sometimes isn’t always what you believe or perceive (objective reality). Being able to discern the implied meaning often means letting go of your preconceived notions and pre-understandings and truly being open (not just open to your own ideology, and this isn’t hippie 101 by any means).

More to come...