The day you come out of the womb of your mother, some excited angels in the form of close relatives are there to receive you. When you grow up a little, you are told they are your family – you mother, father, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmother and grandfather. In your childhood you tend to spend more time with your family, but as you grow into a working adult you become slowly distant from the same family, due to obvious pressures from work life, socializing etc.
Now if I ask you is your family important for your happiness, what will you say?
I think you’ll ask me first thing, who are you talking about? So let us discuss the changing meaning of the word family over the years.
Meaning of Family
Vasudeva Kutumbakam means “all the world is one family”. Philosophically it sounds great, but let us take the discussion forward in the more practical sense of the word.
People interpret family in different way across the world. This happens due to differences in geo-cultural backgrounds. The word ‘family’ itself will evoke different reactions from say a Japanese, an American, and Indian. In India too, an urban dweller will respond to family in a different way as that of a dweller from a small town.
So in today’s fast changing world the meaning of family is also changing. Earlier, in the pre-urbanization family was bigger, had a joint connotation to it as more number of members were dwelling together. They also use to work together and operate as businesses. Today also we have family businesses but lesser. Today, in the modern world, when we about family, it is more in context of the parents. When advertisements talk about caring for your family elders, it shows parents or inlaws. No advertisement shows a grand joint family of numerous uncles, aunts etc. and a greater responsibility of dealing with all of them, or caring for them.
Hence in today’s day and age family essentially refers to your parents, but loosely it includes your entire family tree.
Family – The Foundation
Of course, family is important for happiness. Your parents with whom you spend your life, you happiness, your sadness and all ups and downs of your life. Parents stand like pillars for their children. They realize it when they move to hostel life while pursuing studies in a different city or pursuing a job in a different city.
When Children go away
Some girls have to leave their parents home and relocate to an altogether new country after their marriage, some have it better when they relocate to a nearby place. In all instances, the value of family is understood only by going far away from them.
Children mature by settling outside their home cities, as they learn to look after themselves and rise above childishness. They grow with their professional achievements and are able to contribute to their family in small and big financial ways. This brings them happiness, when their parents are willing to accept them as they are and willing to share the fruits of their labor. That is when a child feels truly blessed.
Sharing is caring in any family. The way to care in any family is by sharing. When children are young, their parents share their income with them to feed them and raise them as educated and responsible adults.
When the same children grow up and become adults and start earning, even if that means parting physically with the family, the sense of duty to share and care must not be forgotten. When the essence of sharing and mutual respect is preserved in a family, all happiness remains intact. Parents look forward to festivals and holidays when their children will come home with gifts and love.
But sometimes, due to misunderstandings and immaturity, the ideal situation of sharing and caring, happiness and love is not maintained in a family. That is when, neighbors, relatives, society in general starts calling a family dysfunctional. They start pointing fingers that such and such family lacks understanding, maturity and coordination. The children don’t care for their parents. So on and so forth. Slowly the family also starts accepting that something is wrong with it. And conversations drift away from appreciation to hate and insult.
Sometimes, grown up children end up having affairs and marriages in their city of work. Some parents are unable to accept that. This becomes a breaking point in the relationships of parents and children, when their spouses are not welcome in the family. Practically, it is a very strange thing, a person has a right to choose his partner, but sometimes in families it becomes an ego war or even something worse. Shades of religion can give a total different color to the mess.
What happens when a family says we don’t accept you completely? What happens when a family says we choose to ignore the larger truth, the larger reality?
What happens? Obviously happiness is broken.
Happiness is an individual thing. It starts from within. It starts from a belief that something is great and beautiful. It is the result of deeper value/conviction.
I believe writing is a great thing. I write beautiful and feel happy. I pursue an occupation in writing and move abroad. But if that movement is not considered great by my family and they are constantly sad in their conversations with me, chances are that it can break me and make me come back. If I rise above that constant sadness then I might create a new family that loves me and accepts me for who I am.
We all need family support to feel great about our own selves. When families don’t support their children, their children will find a new family, or create a new family that supports their larger truth.
Karma – Good and Bad
Hence a family must remember that any body who is working for the family must be positively appreciated. After it is karma that’s coming back to parents, and they shouldn’t think of anything else at that time. Just open arms to your children, and they will give you back.
All children need when they grow up acceptance, the same thing they gave you as children in the form of obedience. A family is made up of few individuals, it is a small unit but it is the culture and mutual harmonies they share what makes them great.
So believe in the best and converse in the best, because conversations build relationship and communicate our love and respect for our loved ones. Let us be our best to receive the best.