Meaning is not only in the quantity and quality of our interconnection to each other, but in our appreciation and active participation in those connections. After all, something that we take for granted, as our due or entitlement, has its meaning and value diminished, if not utterly lost.
Which is why we often do not appreciate people or situations or things until we no longer have them and are left with regret instead of meaning.
The closest connection that we have to other people is family – both the one we are born to, the one we are raised in and the one we chose to surround ourselves with.
The secondary connections are to people we are associated owing to situation and circumstances, the neighbours, the classmates, the colleagues at work or volunteer groups, the members of the larger community to the tertiary on-line community.
So the quantity and quality of the interconnections we made through life are very dependent on our experience in the family we are raised in. When our development is supported and safeguarded as opposed to neglected or abused, we can form healthy and secure connections with others.
While our ability to form connections can be impaired by mistreatment at any age, I believe that our ability to be resilient in the face of adversity is very much determined by our formative years and the quality of the connection or harshness of the disconnects within the family we are reared in – and especially the quality of said rearing.
Much has been made recently of the idea of being a tiger mom, which is essentially an Asian version for academics as being a Stage Mom is to the arts.
Neither allows a child to develop talent or aptitude at their own pace or even as their own interest – but rather both are an authoritarian disciplinarian who seeks to impose achievement on the offspring.
Children naturally look to parent(s) to explain the world, to safeguard them, to teach them how to interact and learn and generally be in the world, but being a parent is an art more than a skill, and it comes down to having been parented in a health manner or developing healthy parenting skills – to know your limits and breed within it, certainly, but also to understand that as a parent, you are the child’s connection to the larger world, but you are not the be all and end all, the sum total of the world.
You and your child are both still learning and exploring – you can share what you have learned, but know that you don’t know everything – except as compared to your child – at least until they are able to interact directly with the larger world and begin to seek out novel experience and expression on their own – as a separate being from yourself.
Balancing your need to protect your child against your child’s need to have a separate identity from you. Being authoritative enough to be a resources, a safety net and allow age appropriate self expression and exploration occur and increase as the child ages.
Parents and children, finding a balance between connection and independence, need not be in conflict at the terrible twos or the teenage years.
Much of that balance is not attempting to control the other or impose or overly assert one’s will or need or inability to accept the changes that come with age – of the offspring or the parent. That is the nature of conflict, but the willingness to work out or around or across differences despite them is the path to harmonious co-existence – be it between parents and children, or nation to nation.
If we can each get our own way some of the time, we tend towards being content to allow others to have it their way some of the time. In this way, we all get at least some needs and interests met – and we develop an understanding of each other, and with enough communication, become as committed to each other interests and success as we are our own.
Thus as a healthy family structure supports the exploratory and belonging needs, so too to people at work develop into teams working for common goals, rather than competitors seeking to win at any cost, which is usually at someone else’s expense. “Me and you” becomes “me at the expense of you.”
So, in a society where the 2 parent family with one parent staying at home is no longer the norm, and both parents working or there being only one working parent – whether children are being effectively reared in a manner that will result in resilient and semi-self-reliant but able to form healthy interconnections to other people, becomes quite a social issue and concern.
But of greater concern is how we conduct the social discussion – after all, what message are the children of gay or single parent(s) supposed to take when the opposite gender 2 parent with one staying at home is touted as the norm or ideal?
I don’t think it is helpful to idealize one type of family structure and demonize all others or create an artificial hierarchy of family structures in descending “best”-ness. The reality and facts on the ground is that a child raised in a caring and supportive manner will learn to thrive regardless of if the parent(s) is single or heterosexual while a child raised by a parent(s) who are authoritarian, unsupportive, abusive or neglectful, given if those parents are opposite gender biological parents.
Everyone needs to think of the children and change the public discussion to making sure children are supported by whatever family they have, instead of tearing their families down and labeling them bad according to the make up of the family rather than the quality of the care provided.
Because these children who are told that their families are inferior, will one day grow up and form families of their own – and the idea that the family that they were raised in and cared for as being lesser than, will undermine their ability to bond and connect with other people – and the debate will result in decreasing the family connections that people form, because they simply will not be able to live up to an ideal and not ever cope with the facts of reality.
Families are family when their interconnection is healthy, not because they are related or conform to a particular hierarchical structure and proper mix of gender – and being validated and reflected in society ensures people are connected to the larger society and can then be productive and healthy members of society.
We do not need to destabilize people because of narrow minded and change resistant thinking.
We need to remember that Mr. Rodger’s never sold his house because of a new neighbour, everyone was welcome in his neighbourhood.