Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Family is an important concept. This raises the question what is family? Over the year’s family has been defined in many different ways through many perspectives. Traditionally family was described as “a group of individuals related by blood, marriage, or adoption” (Smolka, 2001, p.3). Another example would be Aristotle’s perspective on family “Male and female must unite for the reproduction of the species, not from deliberate intention, but from the natural impulse which exists in animals generally and also exists in plants to leave behind them something of the same nature as themselves” (Hittinger, 2013, p.10). However, more recently family has begun to vary individually because of changes in family forms. Now families can be extended by including same-sex relations, couples living together without children and of course, many people consider friends as well. In reality, family is best described as a united support system as well as a feeling of belonging and love. That being said this essay will discuss the importance of family values, traditions, self-reflection, and what family has to do with life’s meaning.
Values are variable for each person and essentially are the things believed to be important in the way that you want to live, possibly seen as priorities in a person’s life. Families are normally the first place children learn about values. These values help shape the way a person views and perceives the world and the challenges faced in day-to-day existence. Aristotle believed that family was important to society because it teaches values of respect, love, and responsibility “Of the two qualities (love and respect) which chiefly inspire regard and affection—that a thing is your own and that it is your only one—neither can exist in such a state as [the one proposed by Plato]” (Goodsell & Whiting, 2016, p.484). It’s important to note that Aristotle believed that without families teaching values society would crumble as children would grow up without these values.
Moreover, from an Aristotelian perspective family “must address fundamental matters of right and wrong, of responsibility, and human virtue.” (Goodsell & Whiting, 2016, p.484). These values are then practiced through many generations. Although our values can change as we see others and grow older core values are closely associated with what you learned from your family. These values are then transcribed to how each person pursues meaning in their lives.
A large component of families is tradition. Every family has traditions that have been passed down through generations and they also have a new tradition they begin together. These traditions help create a sense of identity, stability, belonging, and a stronger bond within the family. Hans-Geog Gadamer thought the importance of tradition was “in establishing our understanding, shaping our intellect, our perspectives, our communication and, our predispositions” (Knight, 1977, p.3). For this reason, you can see how traditions make a huge impact on a person’s life. Traditions make people feel like they are a part of the bigger picture and they become an identity. Traditions can help family members discover things about themselves and define themselves by feeling like they belong. It is important to also mention that traditions are not just holiday rituals and the big-ticket items sometimes a tradition can be small events like meals (having spaghetti Fridays). Everyone has traditions in their lives and whether they are big or small they impact our lives.
A family to me means love. Families are the people who encourage you, teach you, support you, and share core values and morals with you. Growing up I learned to value those I considered family because they were there to help me feel secure and feel happy no matter what was going on in my life. I have always been a strong-headed individual determined not to lean on other people for help however knowing that I have a family to turn to in times of need gives me the motivation to push through obstacles. To further what family means to me it’s important to mention that roles and duties are a common theme that appears when analyzing what a family is. My family role is part of the reason I became the woman I am today and without it, my life could have been completely different. My family role I would consider myself in is the “rock”, I have always been the go-to shoulder to lean on when a family member is going through a rough time. My mother and sister both have mental health issues and as such had tried to end their lives on multiple occasions when I was young these events taught me to be strong for the ones I love. They taught me I did not have the luxury of breaking down because they needed me. These family experiences also drove me to nurse a career I love dearly.
Furthermore, many times in my youth I had to take on the role of mother, when my mom was having difficulties, I took care of my sister and her. Experiencing this was a blessing because at nineteen my daughter was born, my sister being unable to care for her gave me a chance to step up again. If I had not had more responsibility put on me through my youth, I may not have been able to step up and take care of my daughter. My daughter is the most important part of my life and I hope to teach her to grow up valuing herself and her family. My father was my rock he understood the struggles I faced with my mom and sister, and always gives me the confidence to keep pursuing my dreams. He also leaned on me when he needed to, my father to this day I still consider my best friend. In summary family to me are the people who I can count on to share experiences and values such as some of my friends but also those who count on me for the same support and love given back to them. The family is the people that can do a million wrongs and still have your love.
Throughout life many questions come up such as “who am I?” and “where do I belong?” and family in most cases answers them. Family helps you grow and learn who you are as a person. It also gives a great sense of belonging to know they are always there for you and do not judge your choices rather support them. To find the purpose in life means various things to each person, but it consists of motivating goals for their lives. In some situations’ part of someone’s purpose could be the responsibilities they have to their friends and family.
For me family is the motivation I use to reach my goals in life. Family is the biggest concept in my life that gives it meaning. When I am working towards a goal my first thought is will it make my family proud? Knowing that will give me the motivation to pursue it even when times are difficult, or I feel. Sometimes, when I feel like giving up, I look to my daughter. I think about what I want her to value and grow to be, and it helps me keep going. Everything I do in life now is for my daughter, if I increase my education, I can support her better and teach her to pursue her dreams. For me, my daughter gives my life meaning and as long as I have her, I have happiness. Family may not be the main meaning to everyone’s lives, but it is the first step everyone takes in the direction of finding their own meaning.
In conclusion, families can come in many different shapes and forms. Each person’s perspective on family is slightly different and who they include in their family will differ greatly. That being said, what a family tends to be centralized around general ideas thorough history. It is a support system that provides security, motivation, and belonging. Even Aristotle’s philosophy centralized around the importance of a family system and what it brings to the table in each person’s life. Families instill values and tradition in people that help them grow and perceive their lives as something bigger. Family is the foundation on which people begin to search for life’s meaning.