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.

10 comments on “Family

  1. Great post, as always. Part of my problem is that my family, or at least, some of them, is not equipped for me to feel like I have a safe haven to use them as a resource. It’s just part of our dynamic, but that’s probably also why my friendships are so important to me, as they usually provide that outlet for me. But, I have to admit that I’m not up for sudden drop-ins, just b/c they seem to always happen when you’re in the middle of something.

  2. Are you sure you’re not 50? or maybe 70? I have not heard such wise words from so young a person in a very long time!!! I’ve always had the philosophy that if each person would ‘tend their own garden’ the whole world would be a better place. Too many moms, even of MY generation, are so busy ‘doing good’ out of the home that their own children are neglected… yes even by the stay-at-home moms!!! God love you.

  3. This is a great post! I have had so many issues with my family (mainly my mother, I want to know how many daughters out there really get along with their mothers?) and my extended big family but I do believe that family is the foundation and the source power to shape who you are today.

    I just remembered so clearly that how I used to seek the approval or assurance from my mother when I was a teen…and I swear that I would not spare any of those for my daughter (if I have one) in the future. I no longer seek my mother’s approval but just shut up and listen.

    It seems that daughters get along more with fathers and sons with mothers. Can anyone share their experiences and why is it like this?

  4. I love my grandparents and appreciate their time spending with me. I have gained so much from them. They keep me warm and safe. I did a personal health test the other day, the research shows that a person who has strong bond with their grandparents felt more secure and happier than those who don’t. So I guess I have to put up with my mother and give her a chance to be a good grandma.

  5. Sometimes Grandparent are better parents because they got to make the mistakes the first time around with the parents. Just a little humor.

  6. I never had any real problems with my mom or my dad, and have actually grown closer to them in a lot of ways since getting married and raising a family of my own. Ditto my extended family in some ways, but that comes more from not truly opening up in a meaningful way in the first place. We all get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas and everyone is nice and polite and fun and everyone has a nice time, but it’s mostly all surface – there’s no meat to our interactions. While it makes the evening pleasant, it’s also fairly bland. Kind of like pound cake – it’s got a nice, neutral taste but once you’ve had a piece you don’t really feel like you’ve had Cake.

    But I would vastly prefer what I have that to some family dynamics I have seen, heard of, or been exposed to. Thank you very much.

  7. John, whoah, you got a kewl website at Harvard Law to blog about you, how kewl! Anyhow, as far as my view, because you know I’m going to have to comment on this one. First off, I agree, that there is a lack of community involvement, but that is natural for the country we live in, because we are a highly capitalistic country, hence the word “capital” before “social” as the social community one would expect in a socialist society.

    On the other hand, I must disagree with the whole idea that mothers are the best child rearers. If there was ever a time to put more pressure on men to be better providers, it is now. Women carry too much of a burden already, and have been doing so for thousands of years, even though it takes two to make and rear a child. At first John, it may seem as if it would be better to go back to the days of old, when women took care of their children and made sure they had all the emotional support they needed, but men be just a good a parent as a woman. Indeed, I realize that a bond between a mother and child is very special both on an emotional level and genetic level, but behavior-wise, which is actually where most of a child’s ideologies about life develop, should, in an ideal situation, come equally from both the father and the mother. I hope this bit of info adds to your entry, because it was a good one, and I’m going to delicious it.

  8. Well April,

    I completely disagree on the capitalistic society angle. Colombia and many other countries are Capitalist societies and still have family values… granted, they are deteriorating world wide, but while I believe that being Capiltalist does hurt family I don’t think it should. I don’t believe that socialism necesarity improves family relationships either.

    I think we agree on fathers taking responsabilities helping the mother raise a child. Where I disagree is that a man can do a better job. It has been documented that what a mother provides to a child cannot be provided by anyone else, also man can provide a lot of things to a child but must of us lack the understanding of feelings and emotions that are innate on a woman.

    Our society teaches man to be strong, our instict is that of providers of food, shelter and protection but not of feelings, nuturing and care. I believe that while our society and humanity has evolved quite a bit in recent centuries, we cannot ignore the thousands of years where the roles of our sexes developed into what they are now. I don’t know of many matriarcal societies anymore, and I think that a woman is more suited to do rearing… now that said, that does not mean that I think that everyone in the world should be a parent… but that is a whole other post.

  9. I was curious as to what you thought about what I wrote. Intead of writing a long paragraph like I did the last time, I’ll just write a couple of bullets, relating to some of my commentary on your angle:

    On capitalism & family values: it is not that capitalism cannot be made good, but we do, however, focus more on “capital” in the U.S. than we do about society. I believe, that comparing Columbia and the U.S., it’s like comparing apples and oranges. They may both be about the same shape, but they are totally different in taste, color, and texture.

    On women and men in raising a child The reason, as you’ve noted as to why we do have sex roles in our society, is because they have been reinforced, not because they are innate. What you are stating is an ideology of what a woman and man’s role is in society, and honestly, I believe it is easier to accept societies reinforced ideologies than to challenge them. I encourage you to challenge these ideologies.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Family"

  1. Colombia: Rural Wi-Fi; Family…

    John Guzman links to an article about a large-scale broadband rural access project in Colombia on Proyecto Colombia, while he compares family structure between Colombia and the U.S.A. on his personal blog.


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