Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family Culture

The girls at church were talking about siblings. We talked about how growing up in families, we don't know how to interact with people. For one, because whenever we go in public, we shadow our siblings, depend on (and annoy) each other, and never stand out on our own because we never have to. So we don't really know how to be autonomous people.

Then one friend began talking about something that set me thinking. She said how in her family, they tease each other a lot. And she didn't realize that not everyone is like her family. So you end up hurting people. You don't realize that you can't treat other people the way you treat your family. Because they grew up in different homes, and don't know how to deal with what your family understands. Each family has its own culture.

With my family, we don't tease each other that much. With us, we are always in this unknowingly intense pursuit of understanding and knowledge. So when we are having a conversation, as soon as we understand (or think we understand) what a person is saying, we cut them off and begin on the next step of the conversation, in pursuit of the end. This is especially strong in me, because I like to know much more than I like finding out. I like it when things are explained quickly. I don't like to wait. Interruption means nothing rude (well. . . most of the time) in our family. We understand that it means we are understood, and the other person is eager to reply to us.

Well, interrupting isn't an exactly socially acceptable practice. I caught myself doing it a few times, and thought, "oh, people don't understand what this means. I actually have to wait and let them finish their sentence." This past year, as I have been spending more time with other people's families, I have been noticing that families are not like the rest of the world. Each one has a subtly different culture. It's been kind of exciting, trying to figure out what it is that is important here, what can be done and what can't. Though mostly it's frightening. Because I'm going to mess up.

But families have cultures of their own. Maybe one thing, like jokes or interruptions, setting them apart from everyone else. Or maybe it is a good thing, like one set of manners held in high importance, that gets ignored by the rest of the world. And we children have to find out what it is that we can only do with our families and where we have to change. Or, where we have to change the world.