Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many families celebrate this holiday by attending church on Easter Sunday, dressing in their "Sunday Best," and having an Easter egg hunt. This family tradition is indicative of the values which the family holds and seeks to foster within their family unit.
What is interesting about this Easter Sunday tradition is that many families seem to only attend church on 2 days of the year. One is Easter Sunday and the other is Christmas Eve. This leads me to consider what the goal of this tradition might be... What value is 'going to church twice a year' teaching your child? This empowers me to question the traditions I hold for my own family.
Family dynamics are so important in fostering happy and healthy individuals who will, one day, hopefully, enter a relationship with a partner who shares similar values to them. The shame is that many families are unaware or are unclear of what values they are instilling in their offspring.
Of course, many parents would say, "we want our kids to be honest, hardworking, and kind adults," but have we ever stopped to consider how we are modeling those values in our daily life?
Many families might say, it is important to practice spirituality or religion, but then only go to church two days a year. What might that teach our children? That it's important to go to church twice a year, and that's it— inconsistency at best!
Or, what about when we raise our voices and tell our children to not talk back, don't yell or curse, and "just do what I say!" Does that teach them to respect others or even to respect themselves? What about being honest? Is it honest to tell a child the Easter Bunny is real?
OK! OK! I know that's somewhat of an exaggeration, but this helps us consider where the line is between the example we might set and the values that we are fostering in our families.
In all seriousness, when family dynamics do not match up to family values, the results can be catastrophic. Poor congruence between those two factors can lead to the following: ambivalence to authority, risk-taking behavior, low self-efficacy, poor self-concept, and lack of self-awareness.
These symptoms can also be associated with Conduct Disorder in children and teens or Antisocial Personality Disorder in adolescents and adults. When there are not clear and evidenced guidelines of behavior, or there is a disconnect between what is expected and what is exemplified, ambivalence, confusion, rebellion, frustration, and angst can be the result.
Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, "Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it." Like a very good coach who was once a very good player, they can embody the level of dedication, skill, and resilience needed to help their team succeed.
If you are someone who wants to have a family one day, or you are a parent or individual who can relate to the level of ambivalence or angst discussed in this article, a mental health professional can help navigate this journey with you. A licensed therapist can help you identify, establish, and put into practice the values by which you desire to live and pass on to future generations.
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