Experts define the family as ‘the group, the household who live in the same house and consists of a husband and a wife at least, or a father, a mother, a child, and relatives as part of a larger family’. Yes, this is the description of a family; but what are the important principles and pillars which will support the family and prevent its collapse? The answer to this question is very important for the continuation of the family unit.
There are very important principles which tie family members to one another. I would like to mention one of those very important principles, which is ‘the sense of belonging’. This sense exists in us by creation. Humans want themselves to belong and depend on someone beginning from childhood because humans are weak and helpless. They are in need of many things. Meeting these needs and overcoming their weakness are only possible by depending on and adhering to someone. For this reason, a person depends on and adheres to first his mother and father, then his home, his friends, neighbours, street, town, city, homeland, national flag, religion, Prophet and most importantly his Creator. He gets support from them and feels safe. He protects himself against the hardships of life.
Having been created with such a nature, the human beings’ first thing which they depend on, ask help from, seek support of and take refuge in is their family and home. This is because humans do not have any anxiety and are at ease when they feel that they belong and are secure. They become closer to family members through the tie of belonging. They lives in harmony with them. They wait for and get their help and support. For this reason, it is a vitally important issue that this sense of belonging should be formed and developed for every person – man, woman, child, adult, mother, father, grandmother and grandfather. Since this sense of belonging is such an important issue, now what can we do for the protection and development of this sense? I want to specify five things:
- The environment where all the family members live with a sense of belonging in every aspect is called family!
A child and a daughter-in-law, for example, become familiar with, warm towards, and feel at ease in a new environment to the degree they feel that they are embraced there. Their sense of belonging appears after they know and love the new environment. Humans have difficulty in adopting a thing with which they do not have a strong tie. However, once they adopt it, they guard, protect and look after it. They may love it more than anything. Family members become a real family to the degree that they embrace and adopt one another; they interlock, guard each other, and feel responsible for one another.
This comes to such a state that one begins to accept the people one embraces as they are and tries to understand them. He does not belittle them but strives to praise them. He does not criticize, compare, condemn, judge or exclude them in a negative manner. On the contrary, he embraces, loves, adopts and guards affectionately.
- Family members’ valuing each other keeps family life alive!
From the very first days when the foundations of marriage were laid down, family members want to live peacefully and fearlessly in the environment they are in. Spouses attach themselves to one another, and children especially attach themselves to their mothers and fathers intimately. This intimate tie and secure environment can only continue to exist with family members’ valuing one another and making each other feel that they are important and precious. A person does not want to belong to an environment where he is not valued, not cared about, and not treated respectfully. He tries to depart and drift away from that environment at the earliest opportunity.
- A consistent and balanced relationship guarantees the continuity of family life!
One of the situations which harms the sense of belonging is inconsistency and imbalance. The sense of belonging becomes weaker in the homes where love, respect, and closeness are not consistent and balanced. For this reason, family members should maintain a balanced and consistent interaction and communication. For instance, the sense of belonging may be damaged in the families where the mother and father are away from home for long periods of time. For a family to be a real family, times and opportunities for family members to come together every day have to be increased. Having meals together, performing prayers together, having conversation about different subjects all together, going out to visit people or places with all family members, all of this reinforces the sense of belonging. Moreover, the obstacles which prevent consistent and balanced togetherness should be discussed in family council and must be overcome.
- Everyone in the family must be able to share their ideas and emotions with one another.
Humans feel close to the people with whom they can share their ideas and emotions and confide their troubles to. The family environment should be the place where the sharing of ideas and emotions happens the most. Sharing emotions and ideas is a human need. This need must first be met in the family. Family members who cannot sincerely share what is on their minds with their family will ultimately meet this need with others. For instance, a series on TV and social media play the role in meeting that need today. You can see that family members who are antisocial and silent in the house can be really active and social in the virtual world. Those who cannot even say hello to one another sincerely at home can be really talkative and friendly while chatting online.
- Parents and children should spend quality time together!
Family members may normally spend a lot of time together. However, what makes a family a real family is not the span of time spent together, but the quality of that time. Those who do not share what they do during the day, and hide their excitement, fears, joys and anxieties cannot become a family. The house these kinds of people live in cannot be called home but a hostel.
A mother is not a cook who never leaves the kitchen or a cleaner who always cleans the house. A father should not be a person who comes home, eats, watches TV and goes to bed. A measure which shows that quality time is being spent among family members is the following: Family members become a real family to the degree that they miss one another and their home. Family members who can have respect and mercy toward one another, show sincerity and share in material and spiritual pleasure do not seek happiness and pleasure outside the home. In fact, they will not be in any need of it.