Friday Mar 28 2008
And Another Thing
By: Susan Rushton, And Another Thing
Family values vary from one person to next
My mother wouldn't approve of what I'm doing right now. Right now, I'm upstairs writing this and my husband Don's downstairs fixing hisÂ dinner. She'd say I should be downstairs cooking for him, notÂ scribbling on the computer. If not cooking for him, at least eating with him. I'd agree with her if this happened all the time. But we eat dinner separately only occasionally. If it happened all the time, I'd startÂ to wonder. But most of the time, I'm in the kitchen gathering stuffÂ together for us both to eat. I'd rather gather than have him gather. Don't tell him I said so. But if I do it, I know I'll have somethingÂ I like, and I'm pickier than he is. Those are some of our family values. They may not be traditional, butÂ they're family values anyway. We're a family, after all. We like eating together, and we do most of the time. I'm continuing my discussion of family values from last time. Two weeks ago, I talked about a scheme my niece and I have cooked up ” our own monthly book club, where she chooses a book from four IÂ suggest. This results in many things other than my giving her books. It connects us, makes us important to one another. I've also started connecting with a cousin in Washington ” via the veryÂ old-fashioned post office, and pen on paper. More family values, none of which have been mandated by the government. We connect because weÂ want to, not because a church or a government says we must. My thinking about family values started because my siblings and their spouses and children are getting together this summer to scatter ourÂ parents' ashes. Both of them loved the mountains, so that's where weÂ plan to meet. The impression I have is that although it will be hard,Â it will also be fun, and a delight, and good for us. I think we allÂ predict a lot of laughter ... because that's what happens when we allÂ get together. Because we value laughing, and we value each other. Family values ... Alison Sweetser ticked them off after some thought.Â It's tough, she said. What are traditional family values? Love.Â Honor. And respect, truthfulness, emotional generosity, andÂ tolerance. But love is the big package. It includes all those others. Alison didn't mention religion or God, but neither have I. Maybe sheÂ assumes the presence of both, but it's none of my business. It's noneÂ of anyone's business. Ken King did bring up religion when I asked him about family values.Â Religion should be in there, he said. It doesn't have to be myÂ religion. And tradition, he said, involves man, woman, husband,Â wife. One man, one woman. Plus charity, helping others. And kindness. I could get on a soapbox, but I won't. When I spoke to Donna Brooks, Easter was just around the corner, andÂ she was looking forward to nearly 20 people gathering for SundayÂ dinner, all of them family. That's certainly traditional. And theÂ values? Honesty and trust, she said. The ability to listen whenÂ there are problems. Not to judge, but to be supportive. AndÂ unconditional love: let people be who they're going to be. Finally,Â she said, I think a belief in God is important. Believing ” andÂ practicing what you believe. Joe Lentini, like Ken King, talked about marriage. In addition toÂ viewing marriage traditionally ” between a man and a woman ” heÂ believes family values means valuing the marriage. Take your vowsÂ seriously, he said. And don't get married too young, or tooÂ quickly, because you should stay married. And keep drugs and alcoholÂ out of your relationship, because if you don't, they become a thirdÂ person in the room that destroys relationships. Asking these four about traditional values was instructive. It'sÂ clear that we can make up our own minds about these ideas withoutÂ other people trying to decide for us. And while I may not agree withÂ all of them, that doesn't mean we can't continue talking. I get theÂ impression from the big media that the topic is so volatile that it'sÂ not discussible. My experience gives me hope. Susan Rushton's column appears every other Sunday in the Journal. HerÂ e-mail address is Rushton@cebridge.net.