Most of us with elderly parents, siblings or children, will be able to relate.
Not everyone functions in society in quite the same way as everyone else. Some are mentally weak, physically weak or downright lazy. When they are immediate family the question of one’s’ responsibility is called into question.
With Children and their parents it is relatively straightforward, particularly if you are an only child to your parents. You have a responsibility, no matter what their condition or their decisions that they might have made in the past. The people who raise you to be free ultimately are also the ones who potentially ensnare you into a never-ending commitment of love and responsibility, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters alike.
With siblings it is a little more complex and with children one has to be very careful once they have reached the age of majority at what point are you no longer responsible for protecting them from themselves and at what point do you insist on cutting them loose. I do believe though, that charity begins at home and home ultimately starts with immediate family who one can often rely more on than the extended family. Not always, but the reality is that immediate family know your foibles and there is a debt that potentially is never repaid.
In Mrs Jones family and in my own, we’re fortunate in that we have good healthy functioning relationships with our parents (those that are alive) and our siblings and children but sometimes we do question their individual choices.
Everything happens, as it does in other families. From making poor financial choices to quitting jobs without a safety net to making bad lifestyle or relationship choices and we ultimately have to decide whether we should criticise, counsel or simply listen and try to be supportive. Its difficult. Sometimes we just want to shake them vigorously and tell them to ‘wake up‘. I guess this is not unusual.
One thing that i feel is particularly important is to make them aware of the consequences of their choices on those around them. None of us really exist in a vacuum. As an outsider looking inwards at an acquired extended family and how they are supported, subsidised or accommodated, it is easy to take the position of a non-partisan about ménage.
It is particularly easy when it relates to extended family that you have never met.
charity begins at home and in the home
I am sometimes accused of being uncharitable or not understanding Christian and particularly Catholic duty when it comes to charity and family in particular.
My view is relatively simple though. We all need a break occasionally, we all need a little help sometimes and if you are in a position to do this, you should. It is moral and ethical and quite frankly, human. It is particularly important that you engage in such gestures without pressure and without the need for duress from those who would ultimately benefit from your kindness. Better yet, if you can somehow do it in an almost anonymous way then great!
The problem I have, is where amongst such people, ‘expectation‘ is present and it is implicitly assumed by others that you’re in a strong position to be limitlessly generous and benevolent and should be prepared to provide a helping hand with regularity.
This is particularly problematic when those that would benefit, don’t seem to have the inclination to help dig themselves out of a hole or seem to regularly find themselves in new holes. Where the same people have no respect for acknowledgement of the value of what they receive and where they instead have developed a sense of entitlement and choose to rather be helpless than self sufficient.
Ultimately, I do wonder, what would happen if you turned your back and walked away from extended family who perpetually have their hands open or plead helplessness?
There is a line of thinking that suggests that these same people would give you the shirt off their own backs if you were in similar circumstances and they could help you out. I am not so sure of this, in fact I might argue that those who constantly lead lives that are peppered with disaster and who move from one crisis to another, largely do so because they don’t actually take the time and effort to be “truly good” and they can actually never get their own lives together.
I hope I am wrong.