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Archive for December, 2012

In the last part of “Cause and Effect”, we looked at a dramatic example of the consequences of a few poor “personal” choices on the part of a college-aged guy. Here I will give some examples of how to make better choices and why. This is a work in progress and will hopefully be completed within the day.

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In recent interactions with various friends and family members I have frequently come across such phrases as “my life is my own”, “it’s none of your business”, and other similar angsty mantras essentially meaning that, since myself and other family members disagree, it is clearly the business of everyone else and not my business or the business of any members of the family related to one who has been giving cause for concern. What these “friends” fail to realize and acknowledge is the principle of causality. Causality (sometimes referred to as causation) is the relationship between an event, the cause, and a second event, the effect, where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first. Very often is seems that people do not realize how their individual, personal decisions affect those around them in a serious way.

At a glance, one might think that one’s choice of job, mate, home location, or whether to attend college has no affect on one’s family unit; however, little such decisions can profoundly impact those in our immediate AND extended family. For instance, my immediate family unit is comprised of parents, siblings who live at home, and my husband and myself who live not far away. Our interactions are not yet completely changed from the time when I lived at home, yet they are different. My safety, occupation, home comfort, and marriage are something that my immediate family members ask about on a fairly regular basis. We have no children, so that dynamic has not yet been introduced. The extended family (on my side) consists of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second-cousins spread about through the area. Some family members have the stigma of having made poor choices: divorce, live-in partners, disagreeable disposition, illegitimate children, shallowness, etc. Others are viewed as being more caring: friendly, inquisitive about personal events, excited for accomplishments, generous, communicative, accomplished in careers, supportive, lovingly corrective, etc. Seemingly small “personal” choices ultimately lead to the development of one’s personality, and effects the perception of those around us. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that our family example is a fairly typical “nuclear” family. The father has a a day job as a teacher, and the mother is a housewife, staying home to keep things in order and engage in smaller money-making activities (sewing, tutoring local children, odd-jobs, etc.). The family has never been well-off, but is happy nonetheless. The family is not particularly religious, but holds to traditional values of what good behavior should be, and gets their moral code from the traditions their parents were brought in: some things are appropriate and necessary, and there are certain things that are simply “not done”.

Let’s say this family has four children: the eldest is 25 and married, the next is a son who is age 20 and in college, the next a daughter age 14, and the youngest a son, aged 10. For clarity, I will call the children by alphabetical names. Angela, Bobby, Christine, and Daniel. Angela is married, has a stereotypical newlywed home arrangement: both she and her husband have degrees and jobs related to their degree, financially stable but not affluent, and busy in daily activities of work and home. Angela and her husband are close to her siblings, and enjoy being part of her family unit. Bobby is in college, studying for his general degree; he cannot decide whether to major in architecture, art, or business, so he is currently exploring his options. He has a girlfriend named Brittany. Christine is a freshman in high school, involved in art and music classes, and participates regularly in extra-curricular activities. She has a boy that she is interested in, but they are not yet dating. Daniel is 10 and in 5th grade. He is a boyscout, enjoys science projects, and is an avid bug catcher in his spare time. Let us see how the choices of young Bobby might effect his family…

Bobby is your typical 20-year-old college student; he has similar interests and philosophies as his peers, and is all about being independent and making his way in the world. He is taking general classes, and a few electives, but has a couple core classes he is not doing well in…English has never been his strong point, he has always succeeded with math and is a great planner (hence the pursuit of business or architecture). He is failing his Composition class, but doing quite well in all his other classes. He has many new friends at his college, and an active social life. He has a girlfriend whom he cares about very much, but the family does not approve of her and would like for the relationship to end, or for Brittany to behave better so she can be integrated into the family (which Bobby is not too keen on happening). She is a “woman of the world”, and is of the more vulgar sort of woman, though pretty, intelligent, and absolutely devoted to Bobby.

Let us jump forward by about three years. Angela now has a child, age 2, and her home life is much the same as it was before. Bobby is working a sales job at the mall and is engaged to Brittany, they are living together and seem to be happy; though his family is not supportive, his friends are. Christine is now a senior in high school, and has begun to make changes in her personality as she begins to be an adult. Daniel is 13, and in 8th grade, and has begun widening his group of friends.

Bobby’s choices and consequences.

Bobby failed English and lost his college scholarship. He now has to work full-time to pay off his college loans and to maintain the apartment that he has with Brittany (she only works part-time as she attends college). As a further consequence, his sister Christine has been struggling in her grades. When confronted by her parents she yells, “But it’s ok for Bobby to fail HIS classes!”

Bobby’s girlfriend is a “woman of the world”, with a bad reputation in the area, and has dragged him into dubious activities with unsavory characters; frequent visitors to the apartment often smell of marijuana and other substances. Bobby suspects he may have a sexually-transmitted disease, due to Brittany’s past and he feels unstable in his relationship because of Brittany’s tendency to flirt with other men. Brittany is also 5 months pregnant, and her changing figure has become a cause for concern as well, and a constant source of tension to the couple – Brittany fears that Bobby will begin to find her unattractive as she continues to gain weight. As a further result, his sister Christine has begun to act slightly differently in response to this: she feels that she is not as pretty as Brittany, and has started to dress in more revealing outfits in an attempt to attract guys. Angela was most strongly against Bobby’s relationship from the start; she has seen the negative influence that Brittany has had on him, and also the influence the relationship has had on the family. She refuses to allow her child to spend time with her brother and his fiance.

Daniel is now of an age where he is beginning to be attracted to girls. While his parents and older siblings have attempted to teach him the kind of woman to look for, Danny has observed his brother’s relationship and has seen that Bobby has chosen someone outside the guidelines the family has given for a healthy relationship. In his thirteen-year-old mind the relationship seems “not that bad”, and he broadens his concept of what type of girls he will find acceptable. The mothers of his better friends have begun to worry that Brittany might be a negative influence on their sons and have stopped allowing them to spend time with Daniel.

Through all of this the parents have attempted to love Bobby and be there for him when needed, but they lack the ability to assist him financially, and the family’s reputation has begun to suffer. Brittany is known negatively in the local “scene” and her relationship with Bobby, and his father’s inability to dissuade Bobby from making poor choices has given the father a bad reputation at work. Bobby’s grandparents are so disgusted with his choices that they refuse to invite Bobby over if his fiance will be with them, and have cut Bobby off from his inheritance.

All these things happened because a few supportive friends told Bobby that his relationship and school career were none of his family’s business. And he took their advice.

 

To be continued…

 

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