Family Values – Are They Still Significant?

A culture is a mirror of society in which we get the glimpse of the language, way of life, social activities, and history; namely the culture is the thumbnail reflection of the society. Among various cultures of the world, Indian culture is marked by the highest degree of syncretism and cultural pluralism based on the family values.

Family values are pragmatic social beliefs that hold the joint and nuclear families to be the essential ethical and moral units of society. Family ethics are those that promote the family and its values as an institution. Although the phrase has become vague because of its shifting meanings, nowadays it is most often associated with social and religious conservatives.

Amidst all our social institutions, the family is perhaps the only one with which we all are familiar. As we follow our life’s path, our experiences within the family develops to some strong bonds. Within the family context even lies some paradoxes, however most of us hope for love and support within the family. Absence of family values in a family equates to a haven in a heartless world, i.e. the family can also be a place of violence and abuse.

In fact, a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dining table, but by the love, care and respect you show for the other family members, by the memories you share with each other, by the commitment of time to each other and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit. Each family member has to understand that ‘Love’ is a continuum with no discernible starting point.

We Indians have managed to preserve our established traditions, while absorbing the new ones from invaders and immigrants, and spreading our cultural influence to other parts of the world. The American singer “Katy Perry”, who on October 23, 2010 tied the knot with comedian “Russell Brand” in India as per the Hindu tradition and the salutation ‘Namaste’ of the US President “Barack Obama” to all the Indians during his recent three days official visit to India in November 2010 exemplifies the impact of Indian culture around the world.

Although nuclear and matriarchal families too are becoming common in urban areas, traditional Indian family values are still highly respected, and multi-generational patriarchal joint families have been the norm since ages. Myriads of Indians have their marriages arranged by their parents and other respected family members, though with the consent of the bride and the groom.

Every family has a story that narrates itself, that it passes on to the children and grandchildren. The story grows over the years, mutates, some parts are strictly focused on, others gets dropped, and there is often debate about what really transpired and whether it was good or bad for the family. But even with these different sides of the same story, there is still a belief that this is the story of our family. And in the absence of other narratives, it becomes the insignia that the family hangs its identity around.

On one side the elders are strictly pondering over the issue of diminishing family values among their clans, blaming the modernisation and urbanization as the root cause; whereas the progenies of those elders too are bewildered over the same issue. Finding suffocated amidst the orthodox family values, they want to establish a different independent world for themselves; but are also willing to not to hurt their elders, hence agree to keep alive the family values within the restraints of social and religious assimilation.

Thus in modern times the family gets drifted on to the high sea of bewilderment. In this voyage the question that runs through every mind is, ‘had the winds always blown so strongly as now? Had the currents always been so powerful making the family and independent values so fragile to navigate a separate course?

As long as the spell of love, care, respect, responsibilities and proportional flexibility lasts, the families will tend to have a strong spiritual base that facilitates everyone to work together in times of stress.

 

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