That’s a difficult subject for me. I’m 61, and like many of my generation, I was born only because my parents had NO idea how to prevent it, but I was allowed to stay because they were also expected to keep children, like cattle. My mother had been abandoned by her parents during the Depression and my father’s father was an alcoholic because of the Depression. They have few “values” to pass on except “poverty sucks”.
Fortunately, back in the fifties and sixties, the societal pressures were high to perform and behave, and I was born with a 142 i.q.; if not for these forces, I would have been in constant trouble because my parents provided nothing but an occasional whack on the butt. Dad would occasionally lecture us about life and religion. My mother would threaten to send us to an orphanage if we bothered her. My sister was the Good Girl. She still is, greeting unpleasant subjects with a smile and unbending silence that will not be broken until you drop said unpleasant subject. But she is a Christian and did a good job of her marriage and of raising her two boys; one of whom refuses to have children and the other was so desperate to start a family he passed up a college scholarship. I am the crazy aunt.
I’m not sure what the values were or what a family is, actually. My father died when I was twenty-nine and Mom remarried and move to Florida to keep the questions and problems of family far away from her. I learned to make a family from the cast and crew of my plays, or the students at the theater I was studying at or the building in which I lived. In my twenty-three years at United Media, I suppose UME was the family with me as, again, the crazy aunt.
You can try to make your friends your family until Thanksgiving, when the knives come out and you don’t know what they’re talking about and they don’t understand why the screaming bothers you. My best friend injected herself into another family and disappeared. I met someone who felt like a beloved sibling, but I had to step away and leave this person and pray that this person's friends would take care of...him. My sister has invited me to live near them when the MS cripples me completely, but I will never be invited to live with them. Crazy Aunt and all that.
So, I suppose the Unitarian Church is my family and I do like their values. Forgive me if I don’t volunteer to help with the children. I was taught by my mother that they are noisy pests, but I’m so glad the Church does take care of them. The commitment to taking care of our children; of listening to our children; of loving our children is so vital, especially in the way that Conservative forces are corrupting family values. I'm not the one to come up with the answers...I leave that to the families. But I'll do whatever I can as a writer and a human being to pass them on.