A healthy, happy family… the few who truly have that know what a blessing it can be. It’s something we want for ourselves, something we want to give to our children … something America increasingly just doesn’t have.
It’s not just about the ease of divorce – it’s about a lack of respect, mutual affection, and care among family members. Seniors get dumped in nursing homes, never to be visited again. Children are neglected in favor of work and social engagements. Relatives no longer enjoy spending time together and instead seem to be united only in a desire to humiliate and tear each other down.
The wounds of the me-first culture
Modern culture teaches selfishness and a me-first mentality. When you’re the center of your own universe, it’s hard to have room for the needs of others, even when those others are family members. Yet how can a family survive as a functioning unit when everyone’s just looking out for themselves?
The answer, of course, is that families aren’t surviving. Broken homes are so common these days that 68.7 percent of America’s youth live in “non-traditional” families: families with absent parents, step-parents, same-sex parents, or grandparents as the head of household. It’s often a shifting set of arrangements rather than a fixed family structure, further encouraging a mentality of looking out just for yourself.
With everyone’s outlook on themselves, it’s no wonder there’s so much neglect and callousness out there between family members. To live happily as a unit requires compromise, self-sacrifice, and a willingness to do things for the greater good over individual indulgence. Easy? No, and the current lack of self-discipline for rising to the challenge only contributes to the problems facing American families in all states.
A war between generations
Another element at work is what some cultural analysts refer to as a “war between generations.” It’s an emerging force in political issues and economic concerns, but the real fights will happen between the four walls of the family home.
Basically, the current youth generation is growing up in an environment burdened by the overspending and poor decisions of the previous generation. Baby Boomers retiring want to get all the benefits they’ve written into government policy and want to use up all the assets they’ve accumulated in their lives. The current working generation is expected to pay for it, with the youth of today expected to pay it off or live with the debt service.
Yet many young people don’t think there will be any Social Security left for them, and they look at the debts of their grandparents and parents as a raw deal. They don’t want any part of it, and they don’t appreciate the assumption that they’ll just pay for all of it. A duty to their elders? Maybe, but that’s not how they’re looking at it. Protestors and private arguments show that many young people feel they’re being thrown under the bus, and they’re only too willing to return the favor.
Unfortunately, if both sides are cutting each other down, there’s no side building things up. When each side thinks the other is greedy and lazy, there’s no respect or care being shown. An environment of pointing fingers and entitled attitudes doesn’t make for happy dinner tables or strong ongoing relationships between generations.
Getting back healthy families
Even with everything going wrong, many younger people dream of a happy marriage that lasts and a peaceful home life. They want to be a part of a family where everyone gets along and cares about each other. Yes, it’s an ideal state, and most know the statistics stacked against them – they live that reality at home. But the hope survives, and in that hope is the possibility of getting back healthy families.
It starts one household at a time. By honoring and supporting the family relationships that exist, more healthy familial relationships can be cultivated. It’s an attitude shift with the potential to gradually change culture. For every person who says in-fighting, disrespect, and callousness are okay, there needs to be a match who says no, that’s not how I will live, and I am willing to do the work to make a change. In that difference between perspectives, healthy families can emerge again and try to reclaim a positive home-life culture for this country.
©2012 Off the Grid News