Citizenship Of The Family
In the world of today, there is relentless messaging delivered around what constitutes a good family, a good parent, a good sibling, or a good human being. These messages are often delivered through the windows of our lives that we open up through social media. Comparing our lives to others has become second nature; we have become so hell-bent on portraying all that is "good" that we have somehow forgotten to actually be the good we so badly hope others perceive us to be.
With more hours spent working and fewer hours spent dedicated to the family, there is an unspoken devaluation of the importance of family. Essentially, families get lost in the chaos of modern life. We are exhausted, overworked, and still feel the need to pretend that we just aren't those things. We borrow time and energy from home life to fulfill work needs and sacrifice family time for productivity. This behaviour creates fatigue which in turn yields burn out - often nursed at the expense of the family. We start to do what is easier when it comes to our kids rather than what we know would be most beneficial.
Now more than ever is the time to start investing in your family. Family is a microcosm of the community and success outside of the home begins with success inside of the home. Family is the place to begin the vital process of socialization; to create a system of structure and expectation that you would be proud of your kids replicating in public. Family is the first lesson in relationship norms and how others should be treated. It is unfair to assume that your children can act a certain way inside the house but can't or won't behave that way outside of the home.
Being a part of a family is a privilege and, just like being a part of a community, there are a set of rules and responsibilities that should be followed within the house. These rules can and should be established within each household based on what works for the family and the age of your children. The point is that there is a level of respect, there are rules to be followed, and there are consequences that occur if there is no follow-through. Like in society at large, within the family, it is important to teach our kids that what we do is for the greater good of everyone. We do what is best for the most amount of people in spite of your individual convictions. Giving kids a free-pass in the house creates a sense of entitlement; this belief that all that we have is a given regardless of the way we behave.
Do I think that everyone should quit their jobs or cut their work hours? Absolutely not. That is not a practical thing to expect and quite frankly isn't what everyone wants. Instead, make dedicated family time a priority. Create rules that become the pillars of your family life. From the simplest acts of common courtesy (e.g., flushing the toilet or looking at people in the eye when you speak) to the expected behaviours (e.g., cleaning up after yourself or packing your own school lunches), model appropriate behaviour and enforce the rules that will constitute the values of your family. It isn't enough to tell your children to be kind, ask them to say sorry, or verbalize what is acceptable behaviour. We have to show our kids every day what is and isn't tolerated within the family and thus, within society no matter where their journey leads them. Children are much smarter than we give them credit for and will take every square inch of space we give to them. They know what they can get away with making it vital that there are no free passes.
After all, the individuals you walk with through life, from the very beginning to the bitter end, are your family members. It can't hurt fostering those relationships and creating an environment that promotes mutual respect.