In preparing to write on this topic, it was not surprising to find that a vast amount of research exists on families. Research included interviews with the real experts, trusted friends and colleagues who, in my opinion, are exceptional parents with wonderful children.
Family is defined in The International Webster’s Concise Dictionary of the English Language (2000 Edition) as: a group of persons consisting of parents and their children; a group of persons forming a household; a succession of persons connected by blood, name, etc.; any class of like or related things, as a group of languages; and, of, belonging to, or suitable for a family.
When asked to define family, many of the parents interviewed defined it similarly, noting particularly the importance of the sense of belonging. We all have a need to belong, to be in relationship with others as family can provide. The kind or quality of association between family members is the result of many factors and, as research has proven, begins to develop in children prior to birth.
Family is expected to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. However, sometimes even under the best of circumstances and intentions, this is difficult to accomplish. In his book titled The Other Wes Moore, author Wes Moore shares his story about two kids with the same name living in the same city where one becomes very successful and the other is serving a life sentence in prison. Although living under similar circumstances (difficult childhoods, fatherless, trouble with police, etc.), their lives turned out very differently. You are encouraged to read his story and learn how both families, especially their parents, became major determinants in shaping their respective values and ultimately, their choices.
Parents do indeed play a very important role in shaping their children’s values for life. Many of the values shared by the parents interviewed were the same. The top ten (10) are noted below (not listed by priority):
• Commitment/Always do your best
• Accepting/Failure is part of learning & growing
What happens when children are not taught key values by their parents? That is when we all become responsible for modeling these and other positive values in our behaviors that reflect who we are as a member of our largest family, humanity. You do not need to be reminded that we all have a tremendous stake in its outcome.
Take action by treating family as a sacred gift and be responsible for its care and nurture, both individually and collectively.
Michael E. Linker
Partnership for Children of Lincoln & Gaston Counties