A disclosure on the essence of the family and its inner workings.
The family is the principal organisational unit in our society built upon both parents or only one. What flows from this family essence?
2. Modern Families
All that really matters in modern life is the outcome namely:
- Care and love of children from birth to adulthood.
- Building bridges inside and beyond this central family unit.
- Education of these children and launching them on life including university education.
- Supporting each family member within inner and outer family through all life events – bereavement and illness for example.
- Encouraging children to marry and set up home apart from the original family set up.
- Acting in unison as a family to achieve the desired target of solidarity and comity inside and outside the family.
- Building up each family member to make their own religious choices freely and without pressure
- Ensuring all important decisions affecting the family are made after proper consultation and debate within the inner family.
- Where a confidence is imparted within the family from one member to another respecting that confidence and only divulging it to other family members after referring the matter back to the originator of the confidence first.
- Avoiding any detrimental and derogatory remarks about family members within their hearing or outside such hearing.
- Within these guidelines family conversation and debate should be pursued openly and sincerely. Each family member should speak their mind with the support of the others. Sincerity and openness are key to a good and healthy family ambience. Trust is essential.
3. Familial Arms
What are the highest aims of the family life: I would say formation of the children in conjunction with the chosen schools and university selected by the son or daughter. Matrimony if entered into is another pivotal function of the family but this marital union of the parents whilst creating the family is not the be all and end all of family life. Without this union the family will founder yet the union becomes merged into family life as children appear and thus the character of marriage is transformed by those children who loom large.
4. Parents and their children
Clearly the ambition of the parents for their children is basic. Each parent will have a vision for each child young or old. That vision will grow and mutate as time goes by. The parents may well not agree on that vision. It should be sensitively debated between the parents if permissible. Indeed the offspring have their own destiny and are in charge of it. Some children resent any parental guidance as they become adults and grow into maturity – that wish must be respected and accorded priority. However a parent should not be squashed but own up to his vision as the adult child’s parent and may be next a kin in law. The relationship between father and son is not simple as it was complex between God the Almighty and his Son when he was on earth. The earthly father like the Heavenly one has a deep understanding of his son. The earthly father should not supplant God himself but draw upon his prayer life and relationship to the Heavenly Father to gain an insight into his son’s characteristics. The image of the Almighty Father Himself and Christ will be a driving force to both father and son on earth. Clearly the earthly father should not come between his son and God the Father – it has been known to happen. God Himself will never come between the father on earth and his son also on earth. Ultimately the son must decide his own career path within these parameters – no one can remove his decision making from him – neither Heaven nor earth.
5. Broken Families
I have spent an important part of my professional life acting for parents from such fractured families. I have usually endeavoured to secure the child or children in one permutation or other for one if not both parents; once the case has started it is nigh impossible to dislodge the status quo, however hard the parent’s advocate tries in these Public Law Care cases. The Courts will usually facilitate contact for a father against the mother in Private Law cases. Contact may flicker and not last or be severely limited by conditions. The spectre of drug and alcohol tests can be daunting with allied allegations of criminality and mental ill-health for the father seeking contact. The result makes a Contact Order a mirage and of little value. Once the parents are living apart the meaningful parent/child bond is weakened and the short time together becomes unreal. The new concept of Shared Residence, where proper, may surmount this problem. The tragedy of these dysfunctional families turns not on the decisions of the Courts who are bound to follow the lead of social services and the Guardian in care cases and CAFCASS (Court Welfare service previously) in inter-parental cases but on the parents themselves who have mismanaged these families. We create our own families and bring up our children as we wish. There are no second chances – unless the parents agree to settle their dispute.
The essence of family life is the parent/child relationship without which there would be no family life. The mother breathes life into the child at the beginning. She does so throughout his life long or short. The father brings the child up with the mother; they both contribute their clarity to their progeny. They are equal partners in parenthood at the end of the day. We are taught to honour our father and mother in the Ten Commandments. Yet Christ says: “Leave your parents, sell your possessions, pick up your cross and follow me”. In a perfect world yes Christ but thank God that injunction is honoured in the breach like Martha and Mary teaching by Jesus. Again Christ recognises many will not exactly follow this New Testament teaching but rely on the good old Commandments of Moses. The old law is not dead but Christ did introduce the Lord’s Prayer and “Our Father – Let us always remember”: “Our father who art in Heaven..”