Family First

Family First

If there’s one thing my time in Kuwait has taught me, it’s the importance of family. Family values are particularly evident here and it’s a pleasure to see so many generations enjoying each other’s company. Of course, I’ve always appreciated my own family, but being so far away from them has reinforced my own family values and strengthened those blood ties.

Sadly, the circle of life means that none of us live forever. Sooner or later we lose those who mean the world to us – all the more reason to make the most of them while we can. However, all too often, I hear of people falling out with family members, sometimes over the most trivial things. These disagreements can last for many years with conflict eating away at the very heart of the family.

I understand how a clash of personalities can trigger a dispute – we’re all different after all – but is it really worth sacrificing your family for? Pride plays a big part when it comes to unresolved arguments but someone has to swallow their pride to enable harmony to be restored. At the very least, they should agree to disagree.
The reasons for family feuds are many and varied. They range from the simplest, petty disagreement to the most serious, apparently unforgivable, misdemeanor. The important thing to remember, not just for your own peace of mind but for that of the rest of your family, is that even if you can’t forgive, you must learn to forget.

Sibling squabbles are, understandably, considered the most disruptive of family fall-outs. All too often it’s the parents who suffer the most, constantly stuck in the middle of two or more stubborn offspring who refuse to call a truce. As if it’s not bad enough treading on eggshells on a daily basis, frustrated parents are also forced to face conflict at times when the family should be joined together in celebration. Who should they spend Christmas with? What will the others think? What will happen on the day of the wedding? It’s an impossible situation brought about by nothing but selfishness.

But it’s not just feuding brothers and sisters who fall out. I know of at least one situation where a son chose to walk away from his parents simply because they failed to take his side during an argument. Not only is the family now faced with daily dilemmas, think of all those lost years; the quality time that can never be replaced. To make matters worse, the son has since had children of his own who have never met their grandparents and who have been born into conflict instead of a family network of love and support. It’s likely that this particular dispute will remain unresolved, resulting in lifelong regret for most of the family, especially his parents. Evidence, should we need it, that the severing of family ties always comes at a cost.

I can never imagine not talking to my sister or arguing about something to the point of no return. We have shared a lifetime of memories and continue to make more. We share a love for our parents, a bond from our childhood and a future of hopes and dreams. I appreciate that we’re all different and don’t claim to understand the unique complexity of other families but I fail to understand how one disagreement, no matter how serious, can be allowed to destroy the very heart of a family.

Perhaps it comes down to respect; something else clearly evident in Kuwait. Having love and respect for other family members is essential for a content and stress-free existence. A lack of respect shows indifference when it comes to the happiness of others and indicates a selfish, uncaring attitude. This alone can result in disagreements and arguments within a family unit.

It’s fair to say that other cultures could learn a lot from Kuwait. In many other countries, teenagers tend to prefer the company of their friends to that of their own family; grandparents are often excluded from days or evenings out; and weekends are spent watching TV in separate rooms of the house. Thank you Kuwait for reminding me of the importance of family values. Time is precious, spend it wisely.

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