It seems that there is, and has been, a ground swelling against the notion of Family Standards, but for the life of me I can’t really understand why.
First, let’s look at why people have traditionally had standards for their families. Historically, the children have been seen as the outpouring of the parents. That is to say that what the children did reflected on the character and reputation of the parents. While this type of understanding is deemed antiquated to some, it is still alive and well to a great number of people. After all, the parents are the main influencers of their children for a great deal of their young lives.
In fact, even the parents that wouldn’t seem to have much influence in the lives of their children still do. An absence of presence doesn’t indicate an absence of influence, at least in as far as the parents are concerned. This is because a parent’s quantity and quality of engagement and presence in a child life informs how they think about themselves and their relationships. We can think of the kid that is very self sufficient, because they have had to take care of themselves and perhaps younger siblings as their parents were away. Such a person may well seem to have it all together, but they may only be doing so because they can’t conceive of what it would mean to trust things to others enough to rest. Similar examples could be given for kids that have parents that “hover” over them, taking care of everything.
This brings us to the why of family standards. We should not have family standards only for our children, but for ourselves as well. Neither should we have standards without purpose that we can clearly explain to our children. This is because as a family we are a unit made up of smaller parts, and if the relationship of those parts should be askew, the whole unit becomes askew. If, for example, the mom in a family hovers over her son’s every action, and does most everything for him, it is likely that the relationship between the husband and wife would suffer as the time between the husband and wife would be minimized in favor of the son. Likewise, the daughter might feel as though she has to do everything, and her brother has to do nothing.
With all of this in mind, let us take a look at family standards or values themselves. I won’t presume upon your sensibilities or values, rather I’ll mention a few of the historical values for families. Honesty, faithfulness, hard work, knowledge, virtue, and integrity are all goals that families have aspired to in their family standards. How one gets there is a matter of personal and familial sensibilities. In this post I’m not considering so much of what those values should be, but that we should still have family standards, and that those standards should be clear, concise, and well known within the family unit. Likewise, everyone should be held to account in relation to those values. It is in this way that I believe families can begin to thrive again, as such an understanding respects both the individual and the family as a whole, and holds everyone within the family up to the same standard.