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.