Family Comes First

Craig - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 13, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family
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For my entire life, my teachers and coaches always told me how to prioritize my life: “Family comes first, then religion, then school, then everything else.” I often asked myself, if family always comes first, then why can’t my mother’s side of the family seem to keep itself together?

My mother often tells me stories about growing up in Brooklyn with her parents and her two sisters. Many of these stories involve family conflicts. My grandparents used to fight endlessly and sometimes violently over insignificant issues. My mother tells me about how she and her sisters reacted to her parent’s conflicts. She used to sit in a room with her sisters and listen to her parents fighting, wishing for it to come to an end.

Another story that I often ponder is possibly the saddest of my mother’s stories. Involved in constant bickering with my grandparents, my mother’s older sister broke all connections with the family. I never got the chance to meet her. Years later, my mother’s eldest sister, my aunt, also severed all ties with my grandparents. Now, my immediate family is the only family that my grandparents have left.

I feel as though my mother’s family has been shattered. Pieces of all of our lives are missing because we can not resolve our differences. Our family will never truly be complete until all of the pieces can come together to form one.

My mother has learned from her family’s mistakes. She instills the same lessons that she has learned in my brothers and me. She has taught us that families are not always picture perfect; that something as simple as sitting down to eat dinner as a family is something to be cherished; that it takes the efforts of every member of a family to promote the family’s overall happiness and well-being; that no matter what, family members must always be there for one another to provide love and support. It is by these principles that my mother keeps our family stable and unified. It is by these principles that I hope to one day run my own household and maintain my own happy family.

From my mother, I have learned that family is in fact more important than knowledge, power, money, or even happiness. Rather, it is the key to happiness. My mother has done everything in her power to prevent our family from growing apart. She has learned from her experience that no matter what happens, nothing is more important than having a close-knit family to turn to when the going gets tough. My mother’s hard work and dedication to keeping our family close and united has rubbed off on me. I have learned from her that as long as I have a family, I will always have someone to turn to. For me, this is enough reason to feel that family should always be put first. This, I believe.