The Importance of Family

Daniel - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on October 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

I believe in the importance of family. If you ask me why, you better not expect a brief response because there is no easy way to explain why my family is so important to me. It is because of how I have grown up and many unique experiences that have influenced my life. These experiences have molded my beliefs about my family and have shaped me into the person I am today.

I grew up in a fairly normal family consisting of my parents and my older brother. Now, I say fairly normal because for all intents and purposes we are an average American family, except for one thing: my parents are missionaries living in Tanzania, East Africa. Because I have lived there essentially my whole life, Africa has had a huge impact on me: it has influenced the way I think and what I value, specifically why I value my family. In one sense I am almost an African myself, and in Africa family is extremely important. From a very young age, African children are taught to respect their parents and to learn from their elders. Oftentimes parents live with their sons or daughters even after they are grown up with families of their own. People will do as much as they are able to help out their family members, whether it is giving them a meal, a place to stay, helping them find a job, you name it. The bottom line is that if you take care of your family, your family will take care of you. Even though Africa is rapidly modernizing, the concept of loyalty to family is deeply instilled in most Africans. It is part of their culture, and way of life.

But I am also American. Growing up, my family typically lived four years in Africa and then we would come back to America for one year. As a result of this cycle I have travelled and moved many times. I have kept track of some of the friends I used to have, and others I know nothing about anymore. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but one thing I have learned is sometimes that friends and places can come and go and the future is never certain. But one constant throughout my life has been my family, no matter where I go.

So why is family so important to me? Because I have travelled and moved many times in my life, and I know that family is one thing that stays with you no matter where you are. And because family is a key element of the culture that I have grown up in, a culture that has affected me in every aspect of my life. Sure my parents and I don’t always get along, but I do love them and I appreciate all that they have done for me, and I will miss them when they are in Africa next year. My family means a lot to me, and I believe in that.