Before we talk about the requirements that make a happy family, let’s try to define what a happy family is. What makes for family happy? Is it something material like a big house or a nice car? Is it financial stability? Is it a good paying job, vacations, a cabin by the lake? I know that at least for me, a nice job, a big house, and a nice car I could drive to my cabin by the lake would definitely make my family at least a couple of notches happier. But are those the things that really make a family happy. I think about the really happy moments in my family’s history and they all come back through flashes of smiles, hugs and laughter. I may not remember what car we had then, when I was a young little woman, but I clearly remember the times my father took me fossil hunting and how happy those times were for me having special time together. So I believe there is something more profound, something deeper, something that lasts long after the shine of the new car is gone. I do not know, and I do not think it really matters which one is more important than the other, but my belief is that the main ingredients for a happy family life are: Love, honesty, and caring. I believe that every good thing comes from some combination of those three.
Love is the main ingredient, the feeling that keeps the family together in spite of anything. Love lets us forgive easier and understand each other better. It makes us care for one another, worry about one another, want to do nice things for one another. Love is the one thing that keeps the family together. Love brings about empathy, compassion for the loved one, it makes his pain our pain, his sadness our sadness and the wanting of doing everything we can do to stop his and our pain. Honesty would have to be another one of these requirements for a happy family. Being honest with our partner releases us from having to keep things secret and from the constant effort of not being ourselves. Honesty brings people together because we get to know them they way they really are, we get to know their fears and their happiness. And they also get to know about us. Children learn by watching their parents.They will learn to be host by watching thei parents being honest.
Our children will then feel closer to us knowing they can be honest to us as their parents. Knowing what is really in the hearts of our family gives us and understanding of one another. And this understanding brings with it, a tolerance to everybody’s quirks and peculiarities. Finally, honesty is about truth, and teaching our kids to be honest and true makes them want to teach their children and that’s a good thing to be able to say we were responsible for. And then there is caring. So much is connected to caring. We care for the things we love, and we love the things we take care of.
Theres nothing like taking the new car for that first wash; looking at how the light comes through the windows, how shiny the tires look, and how much better it drives when its clean. Just the act of caring for something brings about love. By really caring about our partner’s or children’s dreams and goals, we show them we love them. Those are the three most important thing, I think, a happy family should have; love caring and honesty. We can teach our children by being honest, caring and loving with them. If we can teach our children to teach theirs about these three things, then is not too hard to see how this could really go on for ever.This makes me hopefull of a better place in the future.
Family Happiness is the last work in the series that might be called early Tolstoy, extending from Detstvo (1852; Childhood, 1862), his first published work, through Otrochestvo (1854; Boyhood, 1886) and Yunost (1857; Youth, 1886), and several short stories. He had dealt with a wide range of themes: the subjugation of the Caucasus, the Crimean War, agriculture, art and the artist, death. In Family Happiness, he took up the classic literary subject he had not yet treated, love. Of necessity, this change of subject put him in competition with Turgenev, whose specialty was “first love.” Tolstoy, however, had no sympathy with Turgenev’s minor-key poetry of lost loves, being skeptical in general of romantic exaggerations and idealizations and having a strong sense of biological imperatives. Nature cares nothing for lost loves,he insisted; nature wants fertilization, babies. He would therefore write a Turgenevesque idyllic love story, but unlike Turgenev, he would carry it past the altar into married life, shown with both its warts and its nightingales. Even in the courtship phase, despite the book’s genuine lyricism, Tolstoy debunked some romantic cliches.
The aftermath of Family Happiness marked a crisis in Tolstoy’s career. The enormous success of Childhood and the Sevastopol sketches had not been sustained, and his later stories attracted little attention. Tolstoy was becoming disgusted with the literary life in St. Petersburg, with its factions, it politics, and its vanities. Family Happiness itself was hardly noticed by the critics, who at that time were interested primarily in muckraking exposes of social evils. Tolstoy himself lost confidence in his capacities as a writer and in the validity of the literary profession. “Family Happiness,” he wrote in his diary, “is a shameful abomination,” and in a letter to a friend he stated, “I am buried as a writer and as a human being.... There is not a live word in the whole thing. The ugliness of language, which derives from the ugliness of thought, is inexpressible.” He retreated to his estate at Yasnaya Polyana, resolving to have nothing more to do with literature, and for four years he did not publish another line of fiction.