Why should you unconditionally love your family?
Some time ago, I came across this peculiar requirement in a dating profile:
Message me [...] if you like your parents"
Another form of this requirement for Mr. Right is to "be in good relations with your family".
Excuse me, what does that have to do with anything? Here's your message, Miss Family Values:
My parents back in Romania are divorced and they are both fundamentalist Orthodox Christians. I communicate somewhat rarely with them (but more than they do with each other!), because we have radically different views (I'm an atheist), and everyone has their own life, far away. My parents are very nice persons, but if I'm to maintain a "pen-pal" relationship, I probably have more in common with someone I pick at random on Facebook by searching for similar interests, than with mom and dad. This does sound harsh but it's the statistical and geographical truth.
Anyway, sometimes I'm told that I should keep in close touch with all of my family because... they're family, right?
Here's what I think.
The Bible (shout-out to mom&dad) says "Honor thy father and mother" - a pretty sane dictum for a rather insane book, but it fails to specify why, and under what conditions.
The "why" can be quite frustrating. Some parents tell their children that they've done so much for them: the very gift of life; food, clothing, shelter, education, affection and so on. Naturally, a child should be grateful for that.
However, a major problem here is that the child had no choice at all. We do not choose our parents. Rather, we're stuck with them.
Think about this: why would a parent want a child? For the child? They'd better not, as that amounts to abuse, since the unborn child has absolutely no choice in the matter. Children should be brought to life only if parents want to, and ideally if they know how to raise a child and have the resources to do so. What this means is that when a parent wants a child, that parent takes on a responsibility - the enormous responsibility of rearing a child into a functional (and ideally happy) adult. And this exonerates the child of any responsibility toward the parent.
If I were to become a parent in my late years, decrepit and unable to take care of myself, I would much rather die than demand of my children to take care of me just because I took care of them for about 20 years.
So far, I've dealt with the gratefulness and responsibility of a child is obliged to feel towards their parents - precisely none. With regards to relatives other than parents (let's just call them "relatives"), I see absolutely nothing that entitles a relative (again, except a spouse and children whom I chose), to anything of mine. I don't just "keep in touch with my relative because they're my relative". I keep in touch selectively with some members of my family because they are worth keeping in touch with and the connection is mutually beneficial. If others need help, I may help them because I feel compassion, but by no means do I have a duty to do so.
"Like everything else in life, love and respect, even that of a relative, must be earned through hard work and diligence." The amount of work it takes a relative to share a bloodline with someone is precisely zero.
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