Friday, October 16

Family Orientation

It goes without saying that different people are orientated in different ways. Be it work, friends, some hobby or religion, there is at least one thing which determines the decisions we make and the general way in which we live our lives. Most will know what's important to them and what priorities these various orientations take.

Most people, however, will always describe themselves as being family orientated. In fact I'm not sure I know anyone who wouldn't claim this about themselves. On the other hand the same people would disagree that being family orientated is something as vacuous, latent and so easily shared by everyone. Which in turn leads me to ask: are people as family orientated as they think they are? Is it a case of everyone being too scared of appearing inhuman if they didn't make such a claim? Perhaps being family orientated is something seen as universally good and desirable (when in actual fact it doesn't have to be)? It's be interesting to see how many of us, whether we have have families or not, actually allow family to impress on our decisions. But how do we figure out if someone is family orientated or not?

There are obvious indicators. For example they will spend a lot of time with their own families and treat them as friends as well as relatives and it's also clear where their priorities lie. But I reckon some people can be family orientated without necessarily demonstrating these qualities; perhaps they don't actually have a family, or you don't get to see them all together? What follows is a list of the qualities which I think a family orientated person has:

  1. Need. Being family orientated implies a non-trivial level of co-dependency on others. This means feeling comfortable with leaning on others as well as freely allowing others to rely on you too. This rules out independent people.
  2. Tolerance. Being family orientated means putting up with the bad, letting things slide and not bailing after a disagreement. Preferring your own company to that of others probably means that you're not family orientated.
  3. Consideration. Realising that almost everything you do, no matter how small, has a direct or indirect effect on your family. This means making sure your family is financially and emotionally secure, as well as trivial gestures like making an effort to eat together, keeping the noise down after hours or indeed synchronising your sleeping habits with the rest of the house.
  4. Sharing values. Someone who is family orientated is likely to agree with a lot their family has to say on matters. Likewise they will make an effort to represent them in the best way possible as well as recognise that there is a collective reputation to uphold.
  5. Priorities and focus. Someone who is family orientated will make everything to the benefit of their family. So a man would get qualified and get a good job, but only to provide for his family rather than some personal sense of achievement or gain.
  6. Simpleness. Someone who is family orientated will be content and happy with the simple things in life, especially in a world where there are sexier things on offer. They don't need adventure and excitement to feel fulfilled and neither do they need to be particularly outgoing. In fact they probably prefer nights in than out.
Bear in mind that not having any or all of the above doesn't imply that someone doesn't care of love their families. This is less of an emotional assessment and more of an analysis of how someone who can be considered family orientated behaves and what makes them tick. As I stated at the start being family orientated (at least how I describe it above) isn't necessarily a universal right way of behaving and in my opinion there is nothing wrong with being otherwise.

However I do think that some who claim to be family orientated aren't as mush as they think they are. But rather than accuse them of having misplaced and incorrect priorities, the only real comment I have is that they may be misrepresenting who they truly are both to themselves and others.

20 comments:

  1. I'm almost family-oriented then

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  2. I can't figure whether you've said that with surprise or disappointment (if either). Why almost?

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  3. Interesting read. I guess it's really a buzzword isn't it? People do use it too readily, alongside open minded , and 'havign a mix of east/west values'.
    I would describe myself as family orientated, but like many others I suppose I use that term very loosely. Re your list of qualities; number 2 is interesting, because it goes against our ideals of being an independent adult...Of late I feel the need to defend my parents because I feel they are too nice, and forgiving...but overall I suppose I can come back to number 3,that I care about them too much to cause any real lasting damage.

    How about you?
    Would you describe yourself as 'family orientated'?

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  4. By the definitions I've given above, yes, I think I am. But then again I did write it all myself so it's probably a vacuous claim :).

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  5. I'm neither surprised nor disappointed. I don't see why a person would have to be able to tick all the above to qualify as being a family person. They could pay more attention to work, etc., but when and where it matters, they'd choose family. That's what is important.

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  6. I think the point is that "when and where it matters" is a very subjective measure.

    I doubt anyone would choose work over their family, but that doesn't mean everyone is family orientated. So in your example I'd say that the person isn't family orientated because if they were they wouldn't need or want to work in the first place, unless they're working for the benefit of their family.

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  7. >So in your example I'd say that the person isn't family orientated because if they were they wouldn't need or want to work in the first place, unless they're working for the benefit of their family.

    So you're saying a family-oriented person would have a job only to support their family? And if they worked harder, it would be only to be able to afford better cake? It would give this person just as much utility if they were given the extra money, than if they had a better position at work? Being told they had done well would mean nothing to this person?

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  8. >So you're saying a family-oriented person would have a job only to support their family? And if they worked harder, it would be only to be able to afford better cake? It would give this person just as much utility if they were given the extra money, than if they had a better position at work?

    Well, at risk of making this black and white (and I realise I may have done that first, I'm not accusing you) pretty much, yes. As with everything, there's a cost to working hard or doing things well, and some will choose to spend that on other things. Like family.

    >Being told they had done well would mean nothing to this person?

    Depends on who's telling them. If it's their work mates, society or even themselves then not really, no. If it's their families, then yes.

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  9. Well I'm definitely not family oriented then, and I don't know anyone else who does/could take it this far.

    So if your wife didn't need to eat and didn't care much for pretty clothes, you would quit your job and spend the rest of your life at home, spending time with her? Do you realise how boring that would be?

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  10. >Well I'm definitely not family oriented then, and I don't know anyone else who does/could take it this far.

    Well I did say that even those who think they are probably aren't. I also think it's becoming a rarer and rarer thing too.

    >So if your wife didn't need to eat and didn't care much for pretty clothes, you would quit your job and spend the rest of your life at home, spending time with her? Do you realise how boring that would be?

    Well I didn't say anything about /having/ to stay at home. If no one had to work then there'd be plenty of time to do lots of other things together. But aside from that, no, I don't think a family orientated person would find that boring. That's almost by definition, right?

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  11. Poor work-oriented guy, then. A balance would be good.

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  12. If balance is what someone (you?) wants, then that's great. I've never once said that EVERYONE has to or even should be family orientated. Personally I don't find a "balanced" life appealing at all, but it's all a matter of taste really.

    People just shouldn't lie to themselves about it just because they think they'll look bad if they admit otherwise. It's like honestwaffle implies: people are so scared of saying who they really are that they resort to using inaccurate staple terms which hinder more than help.

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  13. You're right, people shouldn't lie about it that's haram.

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  14. Anonymous22:17

    i agree with your definition of what constitutes a family orientated individual but i have to say your definition is extremly rare to find although very desirable, as some may find their families are provided for in most ways possible so it may be healthy to have a balance with other areas like work, social areas and spending all your time together doesnt have to be the default to constitute you being family orientated. On the other hand some families may have greater needs and may involve the woman not working or having a greatly active social life to meet these
    needs.. i.e. where it matters she is actually there for the family. As for men they shud continue to work hard and strive to do well regardless but not at the cost to the family ethos being compromised as theres also the issue of setting an example to your children and to what reality actually is as its not easy to juggle all the different facets to life.

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  15. Anonymous18:19

    I find your judgemental dissecting of human feelings and behaviour quite mortifying. What a horrible, black and white, box-ticking view of the world you have!

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  16. Anonymous21:26

    i can see where you are coming from. but it would be really interesting to know how is it that you are family orientated at present??
    for someone to be as family orientated as you define one self to be you seem to have a lot of time to watch all the movies you do all the dramas, theatres you do, all the places you go to eat and discover and the amount of time you have to read all that u do, and write the blog oh and your work.. so how much time do u spend with your family? how much do ur family rely upon u at present? what do you do for yor family? you shouldnt have to wait to have a family (wife 2.4kids) of ur own to then say how u would intend to be with them.. but how u are now shud be an example of that..
    so yep.. u may not be as family orientated as you think you are yourself..

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  17. Anonymous19:51

    ??

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  18. Anon - Judgemental? Are you serious? he is merely stating an opinion, and on his blog at that.

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  19. Anonymous22:42

    I don't think being family oriented rules out independent people, and is anyone completely independent?

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