May 9      

Today's quotation:

I believe it's a fact of life that what we have is less important than what we make out of what we have.  The same holds true for families:  it's not how many people there are in a family that counts, but rather the feelings among the people who are there.

Fred Rogers

The World According to Mr. Rogers

Today's Meditation:

There are many times that I kind of wish that I had grown up in a relatively functional family, rather than the completely dysfunctional family in which I spent my early years of life.  I think of opportunities that I might have had, and I think of stress and anguish that I wouldn't have had.  But I am who I am, and I learned a lot from being a part of the family that I was born into, so far be it for me to say that it should have been different.  I'm fine with the person whom I've become, so I can't spend time regretting something that never could have or should have been changed.

But I did make sure that when I had a family of my own, I focused on trying to build up the children, on trying to encourage them to be themselves rather than trying to control and manipulate them into being who I wanted them to be.  I tried to foster a sense of belonging, while at the same time providing a sense of discipline and respect for others.  It's not an easy thing to do, of course, and I'm sure that I failed in many respects, but at least I tried to provide some stability that everyone could count on.

If we are blessed enough to have a family, then we also have a responsibility to raise individuals who live their lives in the ways that they see most fit-- not the ways that we think they should.  A family with children who are manipulated into being anything other than their authentic selves is less a family than a prison for the young people who want to find their own ways in life, and no young person deserves to be born into a prison environment.

In a true family, the people can depend upon each other for encouragement, support, love, and compassion.  When people know that they can depend upon these things when hard times come, they're more likely to be able to take risks in the world, to contribute to the world in their own unique and wonderful ways.  If we do our best to provide our family members with a family that loves and trusts and provides, we're providing a wonderful service to the world around us, to the people in our families, and to life.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so rare that people are taught how to raise their own families and to help young people to grow up in healthy ways?

What can we do for the members of our families to help them to know that the love we have for them is unconditional?

How is raising a strong and healthy family "the greatest social service"?
For further thought:

Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to this country and to mankind is to bring up a family.

George Bernard Shaw

more on family



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