In the yester years, most families would spend their weekends sharing their week experiences in different ways. Mine was not an exception. We always looked forward to weekends, as our parents would go out of their way to spoil us, after a hard working week. I am a 32 year old of Italian American. I spent my childhood days in Florida. Our parents, Italian migrants, worked in the city and had bought a house there. Depending on their schedule and convenience, they would organize for barbeques, road trips, lunch, or dinner out of town, or a visit to our grandparents. During these sessions, our parents would use the opportunity to instill in us important virtues about life. They always emphasized on the need to work hard, and would occasionally comment how if they had not worked hard in life, we would not be enjoying the little luxuries they offered us. Due to this bonding, family always came first and we would constantly look forward to weekends to spend time with the family.
In today’s world, most families rarely spend time together. The demands of modern society have transformed how families relate. Unlike the years when I was growing up, parents pay more attention to their jobs than to their children. In fact, a report compiled by Pavan, mentions that today’s families spend together an average of only 49 minutes in a day. Consequently, the education fraternity is becoming worried because the current society is raising children without understanding their basic needs. According to Fowler (21), children who spend up to 10 hours in school or daycare are likely to lag behind their peers, develop a tendency of not speaking to anyone, as well as fall asleep in times when they are supposed to interact with their peers. While both of my parents were working during my childhood days, I noticed how much they cared about us. I am the first-born of my family, which implies that I would automatically be assigned the role of looking after my younger sisters, while in school or in the absence of my parents. Interestingly, my parents were able to balance their work and family, and we never felt neglected. Our parents would make it their responsibility to ensure that at least one of them was around the house when we came back from school. We would do our homework under their supervision before preparing us to bed. Most of the times, our father would come back late, because his job was more demanding. However, this did not affect our interaction in any way.
Despite spending time as a family, our family had its differences. Contrary to my parent’s expectations, my sisters were stubborn and would destroy anything they found their way. They would break their toys, make noise in the house and were not willing to be controlled in any way. In contrast, I was labeled as the humble person. I would always try to intervene in the course of my sister’s fights. Most of the times, I tried to help them reconcile their differences, by using our parents as an example. So vivid are my memories that I try to establish whether children in today’s societies, which are characterized by cases of divorces and greed can use their parents as examples when solving disputes. We were lucky to have never witnessed our parents fight. Besides our differences in preferences, we would later have a laugh about it and life would go on.
One day, a summer afternoon, both of my parents were absent. It was during the holidays, and we were left alone at home. My sisters were assigned the role of washing dishes, while I was supposed to sweep the house. The dishwasher had malfunctioned. This meant that they would have to manually do the dishes. My parents had promised that if we behaved, they would take us for a vacation out of town in the coming weekend. I finished my chores and settled down with my favorite storybook. After about 30 minutes, l noticed smoke coming out of the kitchen. My mind did not register what could be happening and instead, I chose to ignore. However, a second thought ran into my mind. I could not hear the girls arguing, which was quite unusual of them. I rushed to open the kitchen door, only to be taken aback by wild flames, which were now threatening to burn one side of the room. I called the girls, but none responded. In panic, I rushed to the telephone and dialed 911, as I ran to my neighbor’s house to call for help. When we came back with my neighbors, the flames had grown and were now spreading to the other parts of the house. I could not trace my sisters and I immediately knew that they were trapped. The neighbors warned me not to enter the house, as it would make the rescuers work more difficult. Luckily, the firefighters arrived promptly and put out the fire within 20 minutes. My sisters were rushed to hospital for treatment. They had suffered major burns and would later stay in hospital for two months. During their stay in hospital, I would reminisce how lucky they were to have survived the fire. Efforts to establish the cause of the fire remain unknown, though preliminary results revealed that an electric fault caused it. On questioning, the girls mentioned that they had tried to connect the dishwasher to the power, then forgot to disconnect after confirming it was not working. They could not remember the events that transpired later, until they gained consciousness in hospital. The details remained sketchy, but one thing was evident, they failed to heed to our parent’s warning and were now suffering the consequences of disobedience. When they healed, mother and father would put us to task on the need to work together as a team, and not compete. They emphasized that not spending all the time with us is not a qualification to misbehave. They went ahead to mention that misbehaving would have cost us our lives. Moreover, they emphasized on the importance of obedience, and how if the girls had respected what they were instructed to do, they would have averted a major accident from taking place. Such are the events that transpire in families and homes whereby parents do not have time for the children
Learning from Family Role
As a first-born in the family, I learnt that obedience is an important virtue. My sisters cemented this belief after the accident. Through obeying those in authority at home, school, and even at work, I have been able to relate with my seniors in a diligent manner. Moreover, I learnt that family is an essential aspect of an individual’s life because it moulds you while at a tender age (Makusha 138). The lessons gained will be useful in helping families create stronger ties, as well as help parents mould their children in future. According to Baxter (78), children who come from stable families, exhibit better tendencies in terms of character, and are easier to get along within the society. Those from unstable families are likely to develop bad character and behavior.
Impact of Family Experiences
Family experiences have molded me into the person I am today. At 32 years of age, I am yet to make a family of my own, I am sure that the experiences gained from home, will help me nurture my children in future. Similarly, the discipline and virtue of obedience instilled in me as a child, still reigns. I ensure that I respect those in authorities, while I always demonstrate cooperation with those assigned to work with. My family experiences set a good precedence and foundation to understand why spending time with children helps nurture positive attributes and behavior. Similarly, I will advise my clients to ensure they spend time with their children to understands their needs, and detect any behavior changes, that are inappropriate.
As the only male child in the family, it was difficult to get along in a house full of women. Most of the times, my father would work until late. We only found time to bond over the weekend. However, the nature of my sisters would not allow me adequate time to interact with my father, even as I grew up, and felt that I needed a male person I could talk to. To date, I have difficulties relating with men, and care so much about women, because of the compassion I always felt for my little sisters. According Maroto-Navarro (3072) to male children who lack a father figure in their lives is likely to develop deliquescent behavior. As a result, I know that, this is a gap that I must address with caution because it would also have an influence on the lives of my clients.
Spending time as a family is an important step towards positive childhood development. Parents, who take time to nurture the dreams, and values of their children, instill a sense of responsibility amongst their children compared to those that do not. Additionally, those who discipline their children and involve them in doing house chores are likely to encourage responsibility compared to those that do not. As a result, parents must take time to learn the challenges and needs of their children, by spending more time with them. It is the only way to nurture responsible individuals.