One of my fondest memories of my family in Colombia and growing up was the Sunday afternoons at my Grandma’s. I have only one sister, like most of you know, but I also grew up with 2 male cousins that were like my brothers. Every Sunday our whole family gathered for lunch and then spent the afternoon laughing at jokes, telling stories and just being a family. The kids would get money once in a while to run to the corner store to buy junk food. I also spent a lot of time listening to my Grandpa. While my other cousins got bored after his first story, I would stay there and listen to everything he had to say. A lot of what I believe in life everything from education to work ethic I learned from stories my Grand Father told me.
Family structure in the United States is completely different. While some of the human interaction is also centered on meal times, everyone’s busy schedules makes these times of getting together very short and lacking of real conversations. A dinner for example, does not involve sitting down afterwards and sipping coffee while you carry on a conversation. Something that I always saw as a bad thing in Spanish culture was people dropping in unexpectedly. Your family friends will show up in the afternoon and bring some kind of pastry to share over coffee. I used to think this practice was somewhat intrusive and inopportune at times, but now I miss it. I would not mind having some of my friends show up at my door and ring the bell to spend an afternoon sharing old stories.
I think therapy is a wonderful tool to help people with their mental health and overall wellbeing. I also think that our societies need for therapy should tell us that we are losing our sense of community. Our families do not communicate in an effective manner. I blame it on our schedules that leave little or no time for conversation beyond every day life monotony.
I watched an episode of CSI last night that showed how a cult had committed mass suicide. When we all heard about Heaven’s Gate it made many question how could people do something like that. I say it is actually very simple; our society is creating people vulnerable to addiction, brain washing and unhappiness. Our society has beat up the family structure to the point that the term broken family is part of everyone’s vocabulary. We all know someone that is from a broken family or currently part of one.
Do not get me wrong, I know that even from the worst background someone can overcome and be happy, emotionally stable and have a great life. I also understand that from the best family, or what would appear from the outside to be that (tere is really no perfection when it comes to humans), someone can be unhappy. What I want to discuss is how we as a society have forgotten how to communicate with one another especially at a family level.
Every day more and more kids get their values from peers, daycares, TV, and even the Internet instead of their parents. Morals and values seem to be something you read in an old book. In a lot of cases it is due to the fact that many Mothers have had to join the workforce instead of raising a family. While I am all for woman being equal, I believe that there is no one better equipped to raise a family than a mother. I am sure a lot of stay at home Dads do a wonderful job, but I believe that we need the old family structure do make a make comeback.
While I don’t think having a strong family will solve all the problems we have right now, I do believe it will help. I think that therapy would be provided by your family structure instead of having to pay a professional to help you. Some people do need the therapy and someone neutral to help them out, but where did we take a wrong turn and created so many enemies inside of our own “family.” I have met so many people that cannot stand their blood relatives. I also have plenty of issues with the family that I have living here in the US. It is so sad that what used to be a word that comforted me so much has lost a lot of its core meaning. I know it is not as simple as the cliché, “can we all just get along,” but that families have to learn how to get back to being the cornerstone and basic foundation of our society.