Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way – Tolstoy’s opening sentence in Anna Karenina, still holds good. Families that share and care and have fun together, go through bad times as a team. The family is still the best unit which can give an individual a sense of security and fulfillment. Strong family ties is the best support system and especially so in the present context of nuclear families and working couples. But it takes a lot of effort by every member to keep this bond in place just as it takes a very minor issue to break them apart. Some ground rules have to be spelt out like everyone having at least one meal a day together-once a month family picnic, anniversary and birthday celebrations to be at home, traditions and customs to be followed….anything to keep the members of the family together. It is said that a family that prays together stays together so it would be a good idea to have a designated day in the week for a religious event. Playing together also helps families stick to each other. I remember my childhood when we had a sports day in our courtyard with all aunts/uncles/cousins participating and grandparents being judges. Having a family newsletter will bring far flung relatives together and in today’s internet connectivity, keeping in touch can be great fun. We are five siblings in different parts of the world and parents in Mysore. Every Saturday, we make it a point to join a private chat room we have created to have a get together where we share the week’s happenings, jokes, recipes and just bond. Our children join in too and there is tomfoolery and camaraderie. It is tragic when families break up over property feuds which can easily be resolved by having an across the table discussion. Communication is the key word in keeping families bonded. It is better to sort out differences than harbor ill will and turn the other way. In the workplace, many progressive organizations are introducing family friendly policies like flextime, day care centres, maternity and paternity leave etc, so that their employees can contribute better. Remember what FAMILY stands for Fun, Attention, Mentoring, Identity, Love, and Yearning (for each other)
‘Good kids require good dads’. Alan Hawkins, a professor at Brighman Young University, says a lack of caring, responsible fathers, is the No. I reason kids today are more likely than previous generations to fail in school, have premature sex, develop drug problems or be violent. It is said that a strong father can, by suggestion, influence his daughter’s life. More is made of a mother’s contribution than father’s in the upbringing of a child. But the best gift a man can give to his child is to love its mother. So it comes back to the role of a father in shaping the destiny of his child. I owe a lot to my father for empowering me by letting me take decisions – what to study, where to work, or whom to marry. Since I had to make the choice, I felt responsible for its consequences too. Since he trusted me, I wanted to justify that – so again, indirectly he influenced my actions in a positive way. If mother is unhappy, no one is happy. So it is father’s business to keep mother happy! He can do that best by being there for her and the kids. Not just physically or financially but emotionally.