13 April 2011

Old Possum on family

Now the family is an institution of which nearly everybody speaks well: but it is advisable to remember that this is a term that may vary in its extension. In the present age it means little more than the living members. Even of living members, it is a rare exception when an advertisement depicts a large family or three generations: the usual family on the hoardings consists of two parents and one or two young children. What is held up for admiration is not devotion to a family, but personal affection between the members of it: and the smaller the family, the more easily can this personal affection be sentimentalised. But when I speak of the family, I have in mind a bond which embraces a longer period of time than this: a piety towards the dead, however obscure, and a solicitude for the unborn, however remote. Unless this reverence for past and future is cultivated in the home, it can never be more than a verbal convention in the community.

T.S. Eliot, Christianity and Culture


etem said...

this is lovely and true.
i grew up in a family that always had three generations living in the same house. plus uncles and cousins and friends and anyone who might need a place to stay. it was never "just us" and plenty of people thought we were weird. maybe we were/are. but it changes everything.

Emommy said...

Thanks for this. Lately I've been bothered by the heightened realization that three kids is "a lot" by the average American family's standards. And I'm becoming less stressed by the idea that more children = less "personal affection" from parents to children, mainly by witnessing sibling love and realizing that being around counts for a whole lot more than all the material stuff that I think most parents mistakenly think qualifies for "personal affection."

Katy said...

Emommy, our 3rd is the most loving, affectionate baby yet. He hates being alone and gives hugs and kisses all day long. He takes great joy and interest in other people and what they are doing. My husband says it's because he's always known at least 4 people (if we don't count extended family...) loving him.

Of course, this theory will probably be disproved by a future grouch (does birth-order theory extend past 3 kids? I knew this 6th-born who was the grumpiest, moodiest toddler). But for now it makes me happy :)

Emommy said...

Thanks, Katy! I like that... "he's always known at least 4 people loving him." What a priceless gift!

Rebekah said...

>>more children = less "personal affection"

I've been trying to pay pretty close attention to this because if true it would be a real problem. What I've noticed is that more children = less soccer, less summer camp, less Disney vacationing, fewer extra-cameral complications in general on account of such things being a lot harder to finance for more than two kids. And what does fewer extra-cameral complications mean? More time spent intracamerally. TOGETHER. Personally. Affectionately.

etem, I think one of the greatest burdens placed on pastors' families is distance from extended family. I hate it that our grandparents are 90% imaginary. :( I don't mean that in just the practical sense of I could use some dang help around here. You understand.