In the past 10 yrs my son and I have started some of our own family values, they may not be typical but for a mom and her son sometimes things have to get creative, so bed time chats and prayers, encouraging helping with dinner, playing video games (something he is interested in), wrestling around, volunteering at the food bank, and sometimes simply sitting in the same room together is what we have created for our family. As Raiden has been growing up and realizing the world around him.. He has asked, “Mom, how come other families live and spend time differently and some not even at all?”
So I got to thinking….for centuries family structures have been ever changing. With change in family structures it is inevitable that family values are ever changing as well. The definition of family values according to Webster’s Dictionary is “the moral and ethical principles traditionally upheld and transmitted within a family… such as relationships with others.” If we look at the family structure in the 1950’s, most family structures operated under the structure of the nuclear family. (Scherer) According to David Elkind, professor of Child Studies at Tuft University, the definition of the nuclear family at that time was two parents, two and one-half children, with one parent at home with the children. Today Elkind refers to the post-modern family as the permeable family- two parents working; single-parent families; adoptive families; remarried families; and so on.
With the family structure changing and the new fast pace life people now days seem to be living, people have become so inherently busy, and it is questionable whether or not the new generation is being instilled with the same family values as the nuclear family was. Elkind states that real family values grow out of togetherness with the notion that the family is the most important relationship in one’s life. Our society has replaced togetherness with autonomy and with that the individual is more important than the family. Autonomy means in effect that each family member is empowered to place his or her need for self-realization and self-fulfillment before the needs of the family as a unit. (Elkind 63) The new focus on the individual has lessened our ability to teach our children the same family values we were once taught, with the most important being the value of relationships.
Another relationship aspect of family values we are losing is the ability to instill rituals, because families are together less. Rituals for many years have been a positive way to show togetherness to children. Again the family meal can be used to define a family ritual. Rituals are critical because it teaches children that something they do together is important. Many family rituals pave out time for parents and children to be together for some quality time. It is extremely important that children feel important enough in their parent’s lives that they are going to sacrifice time in another area of their life for time with their children. (Scherer) Without rituals that help build a togetherness bond it becomes more difficult to instill structure and development and family values.
Numerous studies have revealed that family time (togetherness) has tremendous benefits for children, but with the reality of busy schedules and individualism, the concept of traditional family time is a dyeing notion. (Reissig). With this dyeing notion of togetherness, it becomes increasingly difficult to instill family values with in a family. Leading one to believe that in today’s post-modern family the importance of family values has changed and is less likely to be as instilled as a “nuclear family”. “The loss of family togetherness is a symptom of a culture that is increasingly embracing individualism over community.” (Reissig)
So after all of that….. My response to Raiden was.. “Well the whole world is raised differently allowing for different traditions and as everyone grows up traditions, family values and the things that are important change.. And for some priorities of work are more important than their families. Leaving it up to us to lead our family in a way that will inspire others to want to spend time together as a family.”
Getting involved with your family and or others.
How to get involved? Well that is a great question. If you feel compelled to help other families learn and obtain the feeling of togetherness there are many homeless shelters that are looking for help, to both make and sever dinner or play games and converse with the families.
Here are some great places to start,
- http://www.caowash.org A program that helps families start over, offering financial services, parenting help and education.
- http://www.homeplateyouth.org/ This place helps empower youth, build community and helps feed and clothe people in need.
But if you do not have time for that… simply making a planned time each week to foster family values and togetherness ie: creating a family game night, making and eating dinner, talking about each other’s days, volunteering to help others, things that create togetherness.
This web site gives a few short ways to help create togetherness for families. Like communicating, listening, and having fun.
This article has some fun ideas to help create togetherness.
Another great way my son and I like to work together is by volunteering to help others together. This is one of his favorites to volunteer at.