One's family is generally a manifestation and a melee of the generations which preceded it. Just as abuse and dysfunction can be transferred from generation to generation, so can love, respect and other values. While the families from whence I originate are by no means perfect, previous generations continue to showcase values which are cherished and revered even today. This paper will explore my family background from both my maternal and paternal sides, and will also examine the values that have been passed down and preserved from previous generations.
My family has always been quite proud of our heritage and values the family as an institution. My paternal grandparents are of Italian descent and arrived in Argentina in their early twenties. He was a man marked by remarkable kindness and generosity and was loved by all who met him. He had an undying devotion to my grandmother, and was known by all as a dedicated family man. Even though he was so madly in love with her, my grandmother was markedly different from him: she had a tendency to be gloomy which was no doubt the manifestation of some undiagnosed depression. She also no doubt suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Tendencies. She was described by many in the family as being distant, and ruled the household with a lack of warmth or emotion. My paternal grandparents had three children: two sons and a daughter. My father was the middle child, though never exhibited any of the characteristics typical of middle children, such as acting out or being desperate for attention. My father always explained that the way his parents treated them demonstrated the importance and primacy of what's known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. His parents always treated them as efficient, mature successful individuals and that's what they became. In spite of his mother's difficult demeanor, all of their children grew up to be well-educated, prosperous individuals.
However, my father did remark that his siblings sometimes exhibited manifestations of their mother's coldness. His brother had difficulty establishing emotional bonds with people, and his sister was often acting in ways that one could argue was symptomatic behavior of obsessive compulsive disorder.
My maternal grandparents are Spanish and French Basque who arrived in Argentina in their late teens: they were married for 70 years, parted only by death. My maternal grandfather was a man who acted as the absolute authority figure. This was problematic for the family in a host of ways. This father figure utilized an authoritarian stance and expected the children to respect them solely for the sake of the fact that they had authority. This was such an issue because it reduces parenting to nothing but an issue of control, and the independent nature of the child is viewed as an issue. The child is expected to echo the parental voice at all times, acting as a carbon copy of the parent, or else. My mother explained that she was able to survive this household because she understood that it was dysfunctional. She was not given to despair or sense of hopelessness or depression, as children in such imbalanced households are often given to. She never questioned her own sense of self, because she explains, she was born with a very good sense of self. She did, however, admit to being anxious, and explained that have such an extreme authority figure in the house did cause her to become timid.
In spite of the more oppressive qualities that he exhibited, my mother's father did highly prize hard work, integrity and pride. He believed anything was possible, something that many families don't have the benefit of feeling and believing. My grandmother complemented him well, being a gentle creature who also had a very optimistic view...
She believed in the importance of laughter, and also believed that anything was possible with hard work and dedication. My mother has always said that if it were not for the affection given by her own mother, she does not know where she would be today.
Even though the household where my mother grew up in was characterized by this amount of skewed masculinity and extreme authoritarianism, it was also marked by stability and happiness. It was a household guided by self-sufficiency and supported by entrepreneurship: my grandfather was a race car driver and my grandmother owned a deli.
My parents boast an extremely romantic story of how they got met and fell in love. They met in their teens and got married at the age 20. Many people thought their young love would never last, but they will be married for 50 years in December of 2014. Some have speculated that the fact they both had one emotionally unavailable parent was the reason why they were able to forge such a strong and lasting love, and was part of the reason that they fell in love so young. They both were familiar with a lack of love in their own lives and that radiated a desire and attraction for another person. There was more room for love in both of their lives.
I was very fortunate as a child in that I grew up in a stable home with lots of love and laughter. I never took this for granted as I knew that I was lucky: many of the kids I grew up around weren't as fortunate as I was. My parents were the first to go to college in their families and thus, the value of education was always instilled in my early on, along with a strong sense of pride, courage, dedication and integrity. I am their only child, now married with a child of my own, a son named Luke.
What keeps our family strong is a strong sense of family values, integrity, hard work, and overall support for one another. We take family seriously and make one another a priority. We are there for each other in good times and through rough patches and times of transition. One of the aspects which has made our family so functional is that there is no expectation to be perfect. We all realize that we will never be perfect and that we all have flaws: these flaws are accepted, and we are all made better because of this unconditional love which is put forth.
Thus, I can say that placing importance on the family unit is definitively something that I see as having been passed down through the generations. We make time for the family to spend meals together and other activities. It's important that we simply do things together: whether it's cleaning the house, or cooking dinner together or just going on vacation together, doing things as a unit is important. Our values as a family also mean that while we might not agree on everything, it's important that we respect one another's opinions so that we can give clarity and respect to the other person.
Integrity has always been a value that we've placed a high priority on. Lying is completely unacceptable in our household. We realize that we might not always like the truth, but that we need to hear it. However, we have always taught one another the importance of being kind as well. Thus, while we place a high importance on honesty, we do not tolerate brutal honesty, as that could hurt someone's feelings. Integrity means setting an example for other people, and not engaging in actions which go against one's personal value system. Thus, this also means not giving in to peer pressure, for any of us.
Hard work is another pillar that has been passed down through the generations. My family has always been strongly achievement based and we've always wanted to accomplish all objectives that we've set out for ourselves. Our family believes in the power of hard work and the necessity of pushing oneself as much as possible in order to achieve the best results and turn out. My family believes that hard work can be transformative and all that really needs to be done to achieve it is a willingness to push one's boundaries. Hard work is something that we've all always believed in and which we push one another to commit to.
Thus, the values that make my family strong are the ones which reinforce the things that are important to us and which allow our behavior to evolve to a higher level of excellence. My family has never been perfect, but I believe that it has been via an awareness of our flaws that we've become stronger with each passing generation. For example, my parents were aware of the amount of coldness in one of their parents and worked hard to ensure that they never passed on such parenting dynamics to any of their kids. They allow themselves to be vulnerable and to engage in an honest show of emotions. It was because of that self-awareness that they were such good parents to my siblings and…
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