We hear talk of “family values” (well, maybe more so in the 1980s and 1990s), but what does that mean? It tends to reflect chastity, sobriety, obedience, service, monogamy, and heterosexuality. Certainly, abortion rights are frowned upon – and I myself can get behind not considering abortion “birth control.” The obedience to dogma, the patriarchy, the evangelism – they carry little weight in my opinion.
I have been reflecting on my family today. Let me share with you my family values – well, the values my dad, mom, sister, and wife espouse, uphold, and aspire to.
My father Mort was quite a remarkable man. He was born in 1932 and died just this year. The values he tended to exemplify and pursue were:
Accomplishment (he took great pride in moving up, achievement, and transcending the barriers he experienced)
Overcoming (he had much to overcome, and went on to achieve much)
Excellence/perfection (this was an Achilles’ heel, as well for him)
Humor (he was one of the funniest people ever)
Amiableness (everyone who knew him liked him)
Hard work (he pretty much never slowed down from middle school to his twilight years; he started working in his parents’ grocery store early, went to college and medical school, and became a physician and a Sheriff ‘s deputy (reserve)
Creation (like, creating new ideas, and husbanding animals of all sorts)
Family values (yes, the real kind though. Especially as a Jew and as a fairly conservative fellow)
Here is a video I made about his life and legacy. You will learn a ton if you watch.
My mother Ruth is also one of the most unique individuals I know of. Really “up there” in regard to the footprints she will one day leave behind. She is literally loved and respected by thousands of people. She is a proponent of a fairly liberal interpretation of family values, which looks more like generativity, loyalty, and service than some evangelical version of the term. She is all about:
Creativity (here is her book on the subject, and she is constantly doing and teaching art)
Accomplishment (she rarely sits around; she is a philanthropist, artist, grandmother, and recently received an honorary doctorate)
Generosity (many have benefitted from her kindness and patronage)
Health and well-being (she is an expert in and has funded efforts toward integrative wellness, de-coupling big business from the foods we eat and many factors re: health)
Education (she is a real self-starter, life-long learner, lover of quotes, and patron of equal opportunity for kids regardless of socioeconomic status)
Relationships (she is about the most liked and busiest person I know)
Progress (she is interested in moving forward, growing, and improving – herself and her world)
Humor (she loves a good joke and, happily, has always found me funny – not droll or uncouth)
My sister Kelly and I share approximately half our genes, and were raised in the same home for 10 years. We have some similarities and some differences, as any siblings do. She is a passionate mother of three, tireless advocate for choice when it comes to health, and is always doing something. She also makes beautiful jewelry – and gets the well-heeled to pony up for it! When I think of her, the values I think are salient include:
Accomplishment (she graduated from a great university with a sociology degree in three years and then earned a master’s degree; her jewelry business took a lot of work; she is raising three happy and self-assured children)
Expressiveness (she is a very good writer and expresses herself well verbally and non-verbally, too)
Health and well-being (she is on the front lines of researching and advocating for a healthy lifestyle and doesn’t take too kindly to government and multinational pharmaceutical companies leaning on the individual)
Family values (the real kind: she spends a LOT of time and energy trying to do right by her three unique children. She wants to raise happy, healthy, and ethical adults. She wants to live very near to our mother and she wishes I were more relationship-oriented)
Erudition (pound for pound, she spends about as much time as anyone on research, reading, and disseminating)
Truth and Justice (when I think of someone who really deeply gets justice, I think of her)
My wife Angela is known to me probably better than all three I just shared about. First, I live with her now. Second, she and I didn’t have the impediments my mom, dad, and sister had to our really knowing and relating to each other. And third, she is an open book. I don’t think she could lie with a straight face, and she is emotionally-transparent. I have learned a lot in the 6+ years we have known each other. Our nuclear family values are:
Hard work (she comes home exhausted and really tries to do right by her clients)
Humor (with a guy like me, you know she can appreciate a unique sense of humor!)
Loving-kindness (ask her cat, our puppy Freckles, or her family if she is a loving person)
Steadfastness (yep – not calling her stubborn!)
Liberality (we both hiss and spit at the television every time Trump shows his face)
Knowledge (try telling her that you don’t think she needs to know some little, minor tidbit of information and watch what happens)
Adaptability (she thinks she is a creature of habit, but I have seen her adapt quite a bit!)
God (she has a relationship with him for sure, and takes solace in it)
There you go, my family values (family’s values)! Here is a podcast about Happiness. I chose a picture of my sister and her husband on purpose.
Here again is a video I made about father’s life and legacy. In it is much about my mom and sister, too. A friend once said that he learned more about me watching the video than he did about my dad. Hmmm. Interesting….