God has created us to live in community. Socializing occurs immediately after birth first with our mothers as she holds and feeds her newborn. This is our first sense of security and comfort. Our world then extends to fathers, siblings and later extended family. It is here that we learn to love and be loved. The family environment teaches how to live out the four aspects of the human person: physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual.
We come to understand the importance of (or lack there of) mealtime as not only a time of nourishment, but socialization. The types of food we enjoy become part of who we are. Do we finish our plate because there are starving children in China? Do we eat until we burst or until satisfied? Are we ridiculed for eating too much or not eating enough? Is mealtime pleasant? A time for sharing the days events? These and many more set the stage for how we treat our bodies regarding food.
I also noticed that families as a whole may or may not have been physically active. You could look at a family and know they were either playing sports or watching TV. Sports and exercising were not a priority in my house. Finding a physical activity I loved as well as making workouts a priority was challenging and took a long time to develop. Today, my family skies every year together, even though I would still rather park my butt at the beach with my mojito. It’s something we cherish and do together.
Emotionally, we come to understand appropriate displays of affection, core beliefs, manners and what is socially acceptable. We also learn how we should be treated and how to treat others, especially those closest to us. If we were constantly teased, rejected, abandoned, uplifted, loved unconditionally, etc., that is what we will swallow and regurgitate. How our parents treated each other, for example, is how we will treat our spouses, even unconsciously. Of course, some events are subtle and others extreme, like physical abuse. No matter, the family exhales its emotional fumes that fill our very being with the second-hand smoke from our environment that can either slowly kill us or breathe life into our souls.
Poor God! The family is the domestic church. It is here that we learn the basis for our religious and spiritual beliefs. Our parents (sorry, but in most cases, ugh!) are our mirror image of God. Think about the characteristics you have given to God. Is he ever an ever-present, loving, protecting, provider? Or is he absent, mean, judgmental, distant? Now think about who raised you. There is a good chance some or most of these attributes are the same.
Was school important in your family? Reading? Were you encouraged to pursue your creative dreams? Was it over emphasized? Did we let our parents down when we didn’t make the grades? How we feed our brain with good information also stems from what we learned at home. Getting a college degree was not an option for me. But I was never encouraged to pursue my dreams, whatever they were. I needed to get my degree, get a job, find a husband and settle down. None of this is bad in it of itself, but was this the whole picture for me? I can tell you no. As you see, I am 45 and just starting to find out what my dreams really are.
For Italians, the family is the primary social circle. The family always comes first (which I believe in to today). Sunday dinners are the event of the week. Baptisms, birthdays, weddings, wakes and funerals are all family affairs for us. This is so important to me, I set out to find living relatives in Sicily. God blessed me with a new extended family. I found my cousins in Reisi. What a great day this was. I could hardly speak. They are intending to invite my husband and I to my cousin’s wedding next year in Catania, such a blessing. I love my family. My extended family of cousins brought so much joy into my life; I almost crawl out of my skin when I know we are getting together. Now I have a new set of cousins. Enjoy some of my photos.
Tell me what’s going on in your life. I want to hear from you!
Wishing you love, balance and peace.
Amore & Baci (love & kisses),