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Bermudian family values under siege

Under siege: the closeness of families

When the family unit begins to crack for whatever reasons, values for good positive living are sometimes neglected, even when there is no intention to do so, and troubled young minds become vulnerable to negative elements that are never far away.

In today’s climate of electronic nightmares with just about every type of material flowing 24/7, good and bad, the family as we once knew it could be under siege.

Many of the social problems being encountered these days could be traced back to crumbling family values that often go undetected until it is too late. A strong value system where respect, honesty, truth and good manners are held as more important than financial gain or image status creates an atmosphere where values are kept alive to pass the torch to future generations.

Much has changed in recent decades in Bermudian family life. Gone is the closeness that prevailed within families even during the days of racial injustice. Remarkably during that period, the family was the foundation for discipline and respect, and that applied to families black and white. It probably was that social ingredient within our Bermudian communities that formed a special link that would lead to change, although not without a struggle, which involved citizens from both sides.

A key factor that is often overlooked is that the strength of the family was something that all Bermudians took pride in, and to some degree that continues today. However, times have changed indeed, and unlike many decades ago, the amount of distractions families face has presented new challenges for even the best of them. There was a time when families sat at the meal table, especially on Sundays, to share experiences and to mend any disputes that might have occurred during the week. It was a time of family togetherness, which has diminished over the years.

With an increasingly crowded calendar of events of all types, we would be in denial not to admit that something has happened to our cultural family structure, which played such a key role in shaping many of our successful citizens — black and white. With the electronic world of hi-tech communication sweeping the globe, a face-to-face conversation without interruption is becoming a rare event. We all know there is such a thing called progress, and one should expect things to change. On the other hand, there are certain values vital to any decent society that no amount of time will change. Truth, respect, and common decency remain golden rules of life, and the family is where these qualities should take root.

Our hats go off to all families who struggle to keep such qualities prominent in day-to-day activities. It is far from easy because children from different family environments behave according to their teachings.As adults, all those in leadership positions of authority must remember that everything they say or do is picked up by the younger generation. In other words, leading by example is always the best teacher, and nothing will change there.

It is never too late to reflect on whether anything can be done to strengthen the family unit, whether it is a single or two-parent situation. What matters most is what children are learning during those early years, which could determine how well armed they are with proper values to take on life’s many challenges.

It is accepted that we cannot return to the days of old, but we should be mindful that without good strong values the Bermudian family will remain under siege. The ball is in our court.