The English word
family is derived from the Latin word familia, meaning "household,"
and ultimately from the Latin famulus, "servant."
Family life and
the organization of the household has varied from place to place and through
history. From the time of the
Homeric poems (before 700 BC) as implied in the Iliad and Odyssey,
to the relatives of a king and by descriptions of
large extended families as those of Zeus on Mount Olympus and of Priam,
king of Troy, the primary unit of residence and domestic economy was the
nuclear family (husband, wife, and children).
times (900-1500 AD) the family was a product of diverse origins and
influences. This diversity includes several often interrelated aspects,
including geographic, region, occupation, social class, and whether the family
in question was rural or urban. The
family and kinship customs of the Germanic tribesmen, the legal system
inherited to a large extent from the Romans, the ideals of Christianity and
dominance of the church, and the emergence of feudalism all played a part in
shaping the European family of the medieval and post medieval periods.
Changes in the
family that were set in motion in medieval times continued through the
Renaissance and Reformation.
Industrial Revolution the most common type of family organization in European
society was that of the large extended family, with as many as three
generations sharing a common household.
In 19th century
Europe, North America, and other parts of the industrialized world, family
organization was based on a wider range of social interaction than was usual
by the late 20th century. Since marriage was relatively late and life
expectancy relatively short, children often remained at home throughout the
lifetimes of their parents. Families were large, and older children took part
in raising and teaching their younger brothers and sisters.
During the 20th
century it became common for parents to be left alone in the household in
middle age. Geographic, region, occupation, social class, and rural and urban
diversity continued to influence the families customs, values and ideals.
Exponential advances in education, science, medicine, industry, and
technology resulted in an explosion of input demanding that individuals and
family members become skilled to deal with dramatic changes.
decades, centuries and millenniums, have
ticked away and life in the family remains relatively constant.
Parents protect, provide for, and preside over their families; children
evolve through stages of dependency, independency and interdependency;
communication with and appreciation for each other is essential for family
unity; common interests and goals keep family members focused on meaningful
and productive purposes, and generations pass on character traits, traditions,
skills, and values so that each day will have meaning.
But with all of the enduring constants, the 21st century brings with it
common sense and respect, and obeying the laws of nature are
keys to meeting these challenges and insuring successful Family Life in the
live each day one-day-at-a-time.
An unknown author
Look to this
day for it is the very life of life.
In its brief
course lie all of the verities and realities of your existence -
the glory of
action, the bliss of growth, the splendor of beauty.
Yesterday is but
a dream and tomorrow only a vision;
but today well
lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
tomorrow a vision of hope.
therefore to this day.
My father was
born in 1910, and my mother in 1914. During
their lifetime they have personally witnessed the advent of motorized ground
and air transportation, the development of television, telephones, modern
plumbing, electricity, computers, and global communication through written and
In 1924 when my
Grandfather Wagstaff got his
first Model-T Ford he was living on a little farm in Carey Idaho.
One day while he was driving toward the bridge over a canal, he was
going too fast and miss judged getting on to the bridge.
Instead of stepping on the brake pedal, he pulled back vigorously on
the steering wheel (like he would on the reins of a horse) hoping to
woah the car to a stop. He
flew off the bank into the canal. Then
he went to the barn for a team of horses to pull the car out of the water.
Stepping on that
brake pedal was a simple task, but doing it in the midst of his confusion was
hard for him to do. It was quite a while before he attempted to drive that car
Family life can
be like driving that model-T Ford. On
the surface It may seem simple, but
when distractions and confusion set in it becomes more difficult to succeed.
Grandmother Wagstaffs favorite saying used to be: Keep your heart
free from hate, your mind free from worry, accept little,
give much, scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others.
remembers the joy of the simple life as she was growing up in a little town in
Northern Utah called, Riverside.
One snowy Saturday afternoon in 1920, her father made skis for all the
children from barrel staves. He
fastened their feet on to the skis with straps of leather and she and her
brothers and sisters scurried all over the snow covered hills.
home was one where she never once saw an instance of discord between her
father and mother.
will, mutual understanding and appreciation are virtues to be fostered in
Many of us are
like the Scotchman who lost his wife. While
he was mourning her death, his neighbor came in and praised the virtues of the
deceased wife - a beautiful woman, a noble character, a good wife and
neighbor, etc. The grieving
husband listened, and finally said, Aye, Tammas, she was a noble woman. Janet was a guid neebar.
She was aye a guid, true, wifey tae me, and I cam near tellin her
sae aince or twice.
We need to slow
down from the fast pace of daily life and take time to express appreciation
for our family members. Love,
like the body must have nourishment or it will starve.
Common Sense and Respect
A lady in a
faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit,
stepped off the train in Boston. They
walked timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University
Presidents outer office. The
secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no
business at Harvard and probably didnt even deserve to be in Cambridge.
We want to see
the President, the man said softly. Hell
be busy all day, the secretary snapped.
Well wait, the lady replied.
For hours, the
secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become
discouraged and go away. They
didnt and the secretary grew frustrated and decided to disturb the
President, even though it was a chore she always regretted.
Maybe if they just see you for a few minutes, theyll leave,
she told him. He sighed in
exasperation and nodded. Someone
of his importance obviously didnt have the time to spend with them, but he
detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office.
stern-faced with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, We had a son who attended Harvard for
one year. He loved Harvard.
He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed and my
husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.
wasnt touched, he was shocked. Madam,
he said gruffly. We cant
put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.
Oh, no, the lady explained quickly. We dont want to erect a
statue. We thought we would like
to give a building to Harvard.
rolled his eyes. He glanced at
the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs?
We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical plant at
For a moment the
lady was silent. The president
was pleased. He could get rid of
them now. And the lady turned to
her husband and said quietly, Is that all it costs to start a University?
Why dont we just start our own?
Her husband nodded. The
presidents face wilted in confusion and bewilderment.
And Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, traveling to Palo Alto,
California where they established the university that bears their name, a
memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.
Common sense and
respect would have dramatically changed the outcome of that story.
once said, You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat
those who can do nothing for them or to them. As I mentioned earlier, the
ultimate definition of the word family comes from the Latin famulus,
Obey The Laws of Nature
When I was a
junior in high school, I joined the Professional Freestyle Skiing Circuit.
From the first
time I mounted a pair of skis to ride the hill in my back yard, until I was
competing in three World Championships, I had a love for flying through the
air on my skis. During my years
as a professional skier, I gained an appreciation for nature and the lessons
that we can learn from her.
Greylag Geese are
champion flyers. They exhibit a
family life existence that is in many ways similar to human family life.
conducted research on geese and identified five facts and lessons from geese
and their flight patterns. These
behavioral lessons are learned and passed along from generation to generation.
As each goose flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the birds
that follow. By flying in a
V formation the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if
each bird flew alone.
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get
where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the
thrust of one another.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and
resistance of flying alone. It
quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of
the bird immediately in front of it.
If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those
headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to
When the lead goose tires it rotates back into the formation and another
goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to
take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership.
As with geese, people are interdependent on each others skills,
capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.
The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up
Lesson: We need to
make sure our honking is encouraging. In
groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater.
The power of encouragement (to stand by ones heart or core values and
encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.
When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of
formation and follow it to help and protect it.
They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again.
Then, they take off with another formation or catch up with the flock.
Lesson: If we have
as much sense as geese, we will
stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.
living simply one day at a time, applying common sense and respect for others,
learning the laws of nature and teaching them to family members, helps to
insure a happy and successful family life.
(1846-1912) , an architect and city planner responsible for many of
the features of the city of Chicago extended this challenge to future
Make no little
plans; they have no magic [there] to stir mens
themselves will not be realized.
Make big plans; aim
high and hope and work.
Remembering that a
noble, logical diagram once recorded
will never die.
But long after we
Will be a living
with ever-growing insistency.
Remember that our
sons and grandsons are going to do things
That would stagger
Let your watchword
be order and your beacon beauty.
By accepting this
challenge, we can build upon the accomplishments of the past and make every
yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore and FLY2K!!