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Wednesdays weighty wisdoms #6: Family

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by robsalvv, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. Sorry about the belated nature of this one today...

    It's often said that you can choose your friends, but not your family.

    In critical chasm teetering moments, most people list family as the most important thing in life... but it would seem that for the large part we tend to take them forgranted.

    Kids don't realise the worth of their parents till they themselves are much older or become parents themselves. Why?

    Parents sometimes get too busy with careers and what not and miss their kids growing up... why?

    Family is the basic building unit of any civilisation. The breakdown of "community" is often attributed to the breakdown of the basic family unit. Is our civilisation on the decline, or is it evolving into something new??

    Here is an open ended topic, the importance or otherwise of family.

    A seeder question to consider: Do family members need to earn respect and trust in the same way that friends do, or is respect and trust inherent by the act of birth??


    Helen Keller:
    A man can't make a place for himself in the sun if he keeps taking refuge under the family tree.

    George Santayana:
    The family is one of nature's masterpieces.

    Jane Howard:
    Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family:
    Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.

    Margaret Mead:
    No matter how many communes anybody invents, the family always creeps back.

    Marilyn French:
    To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons.

    Pearl S. Buck:
    I love people. I love my family, my children . . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that's where you renew your springs that never dry up.

    The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven's lieutenants.
  2. i'm gunna have to give this some thought......but my views will be coloured cause i genuinely like my kids as well as love them....sure they drive me crazy at times - but i wouldn't be without them.

    i think it is easier to trust family for a period of time - but then if that trust is broken it is even more devastating than if betrayed by a close friend. i respected my parents at first because it was expected, but as i got older, i respected them because they showed me what it meant to be respected - it is easier to respect someone who respects you.....

    until i became a mother i had absolutely no idea in the world about what my mum and dad went through. or what it really meant to be a parent. the responsibility that goes with having to consider another completely dependant life. for my first child, that sense became absolutely overwhelming to the point of post-natal depression and a period of time that is the darkest of my life. my daughter's life has been one that has given me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

    for my son, it was different. but the sense of responsibility was no less.

    but - the sense of delight in their achievements and their joys.....nothing beats that for me.

    my family - my kids and my mum - have driven me to distraction. but they have kept me sane. at the darkest times of my life - it most definitely was my family that pulled me through.....

    however, not everyone has experienced what i have. i wish they could.
  3. It is a right by birth. untill they loose it. then forginves is a right by birth. till they lose it again. forgiveness can come only so often till they must earn it back.
  4. i do think that trust and respect is inherant at birth (at least towards parents) its only time, stupidity and hormones that make us turn away from that ideal (unless obviously your parents were pretty damn bad / violent / abusive)

    it took a long time for me to have any kind of trust and respect for my farther after my mum kicked him out when i was 14 and it was good riddance at the time, although now we get on well and the trust is back, but still some respect is missing.

    siblings is a different matter, i trust and respect my sister but in no way do i my brother (as he has proved him self to be untrustworthy and undeserved of respect repeatedly)

    and my true friends i just see them as an extension of my family, we may fall out and argue occasionally but if they needed my help i would be there instantly with no questions asked except 'what can i do for you'

    in the main the people i have absolutely no respect for ar those poeple who are unwilling to educate themselves and improve thier life (not through monetary gain but a general life enhancement) i am not talking about those who cant (for whatever reason) but those that wont.

    some more quotes for you

    The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.
    Elain Heffner

    This is part of the essence of motherhood, watching your kid grow into her own person and not being able to do anything about it. Otherwise children would be nothing more than pets.
    Heather Armstrong

    The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.
    Sam Levenson

    My mother protected me from the world and my father threatened me with it.
    Quentin Crisp

    Happiness is seeing your mother-in-law's picture on the back of a milk carton.

    Nobody loves me but my mother,
    And she could be jivin' too.
    B. B. King

    Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children
    William Makepeace Thackeray
  6. Wow... well.... ok....

    I do believe the family unit is a diminishing thing.

    Too many families have parents broken up (incl mine), which may lead to the future generations seeing the acceptability of giving up without trying ("The grass is greener..." syndrome). In turn, i believe will lead to furthar breakdowns in communities and social duties.

    Also I believe in a lot of tendancies that a parent has, will be passed down (or more, seen as acceptable) to the child(ren), such as; violence, smoking, etc. And it takes an individual to break the mould from the parents and be able to change perspecives and 'conditioned reactions'.

    Even since i did 1 semester of sociology :p , and learnt about Marxism, I have a storng belief that society works because everyone has an equally important place and job to do, from the janitors to the CEO's. But lets not get dragged to deeply into sociology (save that for another wednesday ;) ) or is that tied in with today, and one will effect the other... he talks about his "theory of Alienation" (FN#1) in which society will grow to classes that resent others (funny that :? ) and thus a breakdown in society.
    And thus rose class and materialism, and one person sue'ing the other because of a bump on the head, FN#2:
    So is the family unit responsible for the breakdown in society?

    Everything evolves over time, so the family unit will ofcourse evolve too, but into something better or worse is the question. If there isn't a trend reversal in divorces and splits, the "family unit" will become a single working parent... But can one really call that a unit?
    And thus, I would tend to suggest that, appart for a few cases, communities (as we know/knew them) are breaking down.
    This is all based on the theory that I didn't have my eyes closed for the first 18 years of my life and that society wasn't always as f'd up as it is now... :?

    I was always nurtured and encouraged, and even tho i didn't know the worth or knowledge of my parents (and sometimes disliked them) I am glad for the way i was brought up (my parents didn't fully split till after i was finishing high school), and although i'm not a parent myself (not that i know of :p ), I now as an adult see the worth and reasoning of my parents, and probably would have made the same decisions on many things that effected my life over the years.
    Not till earlier this year, when my grandmother passed away, did i realise that i enjoyed going over and seeing her (and eating the wonderous meals she cooked), even tho i grumbled at the time. And I realised that another part of me had just grown up (scarey i know :p )

    But i will agree with:
    In closing, I do believe kids will take their parents for granted, but we all need a family of sorts (if yours is gone, NR is your new family ;) ). And that the family unit is important to society and unity with others, as it teaches values and morals to others, and that every job needs to be done, no matter how big or small.

    1. AN INTRODUCTION TO MARX'S THEORY OF ALIENATION - http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj79/cox.htm
    2. Marxism - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxism

    I think i'm done :)
    Thank you Mr. Speaker ;)
  7. i guess that depends on whether you concieve of the possibility that a 'family' does not necessarily have to reside in the same lodging....and that a single working parent with children is a 'unit'....as a single working parent of two kids, i believe that my children are still in a family - that is spread across two 'family units' - one is the mother and two kids in one house, and the other is the biological father in another house.....he and i don't get on - but for 14 years i have worked hard to reinforce that my children do have a family that consists of two parents.....and i know many others who have done the same thing in similar situations.

    i don't therefore, believe that just because there is divorce, that there is a breakdown in community.....
  8. Ooooooo this subject could potentially open up a can of worms :p

    This is a nice and simple quote I found on my very quick look around...most specifically "trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together".

    Sometimes this thread is long and strong. Sometimes it's barely even there. Sometimes it can be strong once, and now it has been weakened...and vice versa. Obviously, what category you fall under is entirely individual.

    I'll answer your original points first:

    I think that depends on how you're bought up and environmental influences outside of the family. I have seen many a child/teenager/adult that does whatever the hell they want because Mum and Dad will pull them out of any 'trouble' and not give it a second thought. In turn, I have seen many a friend of said child/teenager/adult try the same thing with THEIR parents - usually to be quickly shot down :LOL:

    I've got a friend with VERY well off parents. His brother and sisters use/used the money a LOT. My friend has been determined to look after himself. Now has his own business, his own money, and rarely, if ever goes to either of his parents.

    My parents aren't well off. I know that. They covered the cost of my car when I bought it off my brother (2.5k) and i've been slowly paying them back. They have yet to learn about my accident because I don't want them to feel they have to look after me. I'm getting everything sorted, being straight in my mind what I have to pay/how etc before I even mention it to them.......if I even do :oops: No, I don't want to take them for granted....and I'm shit scared of them :LOL: But I digress.

    Yeah, some people take their parents for granted. Some don't. _I_ don't think there's a hard and fast rule here.

    Seeing I don't have kids, I can't answer this in full. I CAN say that I guess the above example has shown that I realise the worth of my parents now that I'm older. I know what it is to struggle, I know the sacrifices they made for all three of us as we were growing up, and I know that I didn't appreciate that when I was younger.

    As for the why, I guess that's just a maturity thing. When you're 5/10/15 years old you mentally can't fathom 'the way of the world'. It isn't until you can mentally and physically go through life and experience some of the things your parents have been through that you realise. It's like saying you know all about depression (for example) when you've never actually been through it.

    From my limited life knowledge, I think a lot of this is because of how they were bought up. It is also because of the pressures we now face - from what I know a lot more than 30 years ago. Life is expensive. Success is hard. Some people use careers and what not as an escape from their 'home life' some people genuinely focus on that so much because they're trying to provide the best they can for their children and families. I don't know, I haven't experienced this sort of scenario to be able to answer properly.

    ......I'm skipping the community subject. It's gunna take me a while to get my head around that paragraph :?

    As I think has been mentioned, I also believe respect and trust are inherent from birth, however they CAN be lost. After which, it is possible to earn them back, however not always the case.

    When I was younger I was always running to Mum. Dad just didn't know how to relate to my sister and I. He had things like football to be able to relate with my brother, but not us girls.

    As I got older, Mum and I began to clash something shocking. I became aware of how she treated us kids and also my Dad. To an extent she lost a little of my respect and Dad and I became a lot closer. That being said, it was also hard for me to understand how my Dad could just 'take it on the chin'. (on reading this again I realised how this sounds. My mum isn't a bad person! She's just an emotional fighter and knows how to hurt you with words/actions (NOT physical as such!) )

    So the situations have reversed a little. If I knew Dad would not tell Mum about my accident, I'd tell him - because while I know that he'd help me out in an instant, I know that he'd also understand the need within myself to try and deal with the situation in my own way. Mum'll try and take over.

    There's a few different scenarios I could explain but you don't need to know my life story :)

    In short, I think that it's inherent to begin with, but that changes as you grow.

    And the same for me with my Pop. I was a lot younger than you when mine passed, but even that young (10) I knew exactly what I had lost.

    I also know that I'd feel the same way with my parents.

    My entire family unit is still around. But in some ways that unit has broken down already. I know that in a split second all of my family will be there for me if I need it, that DOESN'T mean that I trust them enough to go to them for help.

    But then there's different types of trust and THAT'S a whole other can of worms ;)

    That'll do Pia..that'll do. :)
  9. In the past, the word ‘family’ was used to refer to all members of one’s household – including servants and those who just happened to be living in the same home. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the more modern terminology portrayed ‘family’ as a nuclear group of parents/children.

    Today society generally views family as a refuge from the world – encouraging love, trust and understanding, while escaping from the stress and struggle of modern civilization. Ortho it must be said that no other aspect in ones life can influence you more as a child or as deeply than that of your family. In the best sense a family can provide you with a sense of belonging, affection and validation - nurturing positive emotional growth. On the down side ………

    But certainly, families are vitality important in ones life. Whether they be parents, siblings, spouses, children or just damn good friends. To me the depth of my ‘family’ is in the knowledge that they are always there for me and vise versa. It’s just a pity that ‘life’ gets in the way and one doesn’t let them know often enough (and often too late ….) just how significant they were – good and bad.

  10. To me, family is SOOOO important. My mother has been married three times and has said that she will never marry again. In spite of all this, she has brought up 4 outstanding kids who are *very* individual, *very* capable and *very* well balanced. Mum is my hero and I admire her more and more as I get older. She learnt everything she knows from my grandmother who was also an outstanding woman, bringing up 6 kids, often on her own as my grandfather worked for ASIO (that's right, everybody.....I have contacts! :wink: :LOL: )

    I come from a very maternal family. The girls are extremely powerful....confident, independent, yet loving and generous with heart and mind. We are honest and loyal (almost to a fault). Now that I have begun my own journey as the matriarch of my own family (OK, OK...its only Stookie and the puppy now, but just you wait!), I believe it will be the same.

    I have been brought up with mum's belief that a mother's focus in life is her children. Through all the crap mum has dealt with since I was born, the kids have always come first. I strongly believe this is a big part of why our family is so close.

    We still have a lot of contact with dad and he is often at family events, but there is not the bond that we have with mum. I recall mum saying years ago that a mother's focus is the children and a father's focus is the mother. I guess that's how a family (in theory) should stay strong.

    I am really sad that as society develops, the importance of family seems to diminish. My greatest and definately most challenging goal for me as I get older is building and maintaining (with help, of course!!!) a *really* strong and well balanced family unit.

    As to the respect from birth point:
    I believe respect is earned, but you start off with a neutral level of respect. You have done nothing to earn it and nothing to lose it. I think this starts to change as you get older...as your awareness of right and wrong develops (this is an important role with parenting :wink: ). As I have grown up, the only thing mum has ever been really angry about is if we were to lie to her. The most devastating thing I have ever heard from mum's mouth is when she has said she is disappointed in me. That is when I knew I had lost her respect and it took me a *long* time to get that back.

    I think that there are times in our lives when we take family for granted, but I think it is a part of the growing up process. Some people don't grow up and never learn that.

    I have a crazy family, but it works really well and we all love each other and respect each other even though there are some really big differences. We ahd a friend of mum's stay at her place for about 6 weeks earlier this year. He commented on how close we are as a family and how much he enjoyed being a part of our interactions. It made him realise that he may have missed out on a lot because of decisions he made when he was younger to remove his family from his life at the time. Ironically, he was going home to live with his mum when he left.

    As far as I'm concerned, blood runs thicker than water and when the going gets tough, I know I can depend on my family to help me through.

    N.B. the opinions expressed in this post are mine and, while I welcome comment, do not criticise me for my thoughts on something that is *very* close to my heart.
  11. ....and Rob, I reckon this is the best weighty wisdom yet!!!

    In case you hadn't noticed, this is a topic very important to me. I could go on forever about my family and how excited I am about my new family :oops: :)
  12. Richard Bach Rocks! BB I'll have to consider your post when I have some brain capacity It's a weighty work.

    Thanks for the open and honest contris folks. Very moving. Worth delving into... I'll have to do that tomorrow! (well later today)

    Triway, I think "Snap!" would be an appropriate response. I agreed with your comments.

    For the record, I realised at around 14 that my parents were given unconditional trust and love without any conscious decision on my behalf and that seemed "wrong". An odd thing for a child to realise...

    They have my trust and respect now in equal measure/proportion to how they've earned it... and it goes deep.

    To me family is important and I have indeed taken them forgranted at times when I was a lot younger... in my case, age brought maturity and realisation of their mortality, and so I appreciate my family much more now than I did in the past... big statement from an Italian... the importance of the family is a religiously ingrained concept... which makes my 14y.o. revelation even more interesting.

    But in the same family, I have cousins who have divorced their father, my blood uncle, such was the folly of his ways that he alienated his kids and wife so strongly... it's an interesting situation to have observed from arms length.

    Blood isn't necessarily thicker than water - sometimes the choices we make as to who to let "in" can carry as much weight as the people we look upon as blood family. Family is a broad word... it's not a cut and dry thing is it?

    There's quite a lot that can be said on this topic, and I look forward to the ensuing discussion... each persons upbringing is unique as is their view and perspective - so that should be pretty interesting.

    Hopefully you feel safe to share... you never know who needs to hear what you have to say....

    edit:Lil - extra bonus moving points to you :)
  13. Heh...Booga and I were talking about trust a little while ago, and I was finding it hard to explain how I felt about it. I was saying something along the lines of that I'll 'trust' new people, but will still be guarded and it was a little contradictory.

    "Letting them in" is exactly what I was trying to say.

    And you're right, you don't have to be blood related to be 'family', so while I understand entirely where you're coming from Lil, I don't 100% agree that blood is thicker than water.

    The Mornington boys (Jason in particular lately!!) have been more like family to me than my sister has been in a long time. When I had my accident Jason was literally the first person I thought to call. In the shortest of times those boys have gained more trust and respect than I've had for my sibling in 24 years. Thinking about it, I think one of the main reasons for that is that they accept (or at least pretend pretty damn well ;) ) me for who I am, faults and all.

    My family can be very judgemental. And while I'm sure the boys have not fundamentally agreed with some of the things I've said or done, I know - as has been proven - that they'll still be there for me if I need them, no questions asked.

    That's family.....in my view anyways ;)
  14. What's the measure/yard stick that tells you when a friend has become like "family" i.e., when they become like "like a brother/sister" versus being an abiding close friend?

    Does the bullet test apply? If you'd take a bullet for a friend, does that make them effectively family?

    Or is it a time thing?? I have a couple of absolutely cherished friendships that started from early adolescence. They are like sisters to me... One I actually do call my sister - but I "adopted" her moments after meeting her... so I don't personally have an answer...

    Then we talk about the NR family... care, friendship & comradeship related to our passion of motorcycling - it's a family on a lower level though isn't it? We're less forgiving of personality issues in this particular family aren't we! lol.

    Still cogitating on this one...
  15. Does this open up the nature versus nurture discussion?

    No doubt ones family experience shapes you, but there's definitely something intangible/inherent that we're born with that inherently makes us different from the next sibling. The same genetic material and the same parental/family environment/influences can produce vastly different individuals, that but for the fact of being "family" you might not ever have chosen them as friends.


    Did you start of with a nuetral level of respect for your family members which has grown/shrunk accordingly, or was this a conscious decision later??
  16. Great topic! The only problem I have with weighty wisdoms is finding the time to read, process, and respond in the course of pretending to work :grin: This is the first effort, and it'll be short.

    I agree. I acknowledge that a fair percentage of others won't. I also recognise that my lack of familial "connection" is largely due to nurture and, I suspect, this is the likely cause of similar misgivings in others.

    I should say that my feelings towards my relatives (or lack thereof) don't harbour any resentment or anger, they simple ARE. My parents divorced when I was 5 and each of them, in various ways, managed to let me down on many occasions when I was growing up. I became a fiercely independent person, and for this, I am thankful.

    My intense desire to forge my own path, from a very young age, changed the course of my life forever. Whilst it may have been 'nice' to have more support in some of the really difficult times, I learned that *I* was strong enough to carry on without it.

    The end result has been an overwhelmingly positive one. I would not have been to the places I've been, seen the things I've seen, or accomplished what I have had I relied on my family. This is not to say that things would have turned out 'miserably', but they certainly would have turned out differently.

    I speak to (some) of them 3 or 4 times a year, just to make sure that everyone is healthy and doing well. That suffices.

    As I see it, this fulfils the nature argument.

    We are biologically programmed for kinship and support. One might say that we need this kinship to survive. This may not be the case in a physical sense in the modern world, but I'm of the view that it is still entirely relevant on a psychological level.

    Thankfully, our ability to form relationships and develop a kinship with others has expanded from a tribal "world" to the world at large. Questions of biology and geography are largely irrelevant as communication has largely broken free of those boundaries. NR is a perfect example of what I'm talking about here.

    Friends, and partners, have played major roles in my personal development and advancement. The enduring relationships are with people that I would call “family†in the sense that my connection with them is on the same terms as others might have with their biological parents. These relationships are, in my view, the important ones.
    Now, in closing, I must say something about the issue of love and respect. In light of my arguments above, you can probably surmise where this is going…but I’ll press on anyway:

    Love and respect must be earned. Full stop. One should not be entitled to them as a matter of course. I expect others to earn these things from me and, in turn, I expect that I shall be required to earn them myself. A biological parent, should they be of a high standard as such, is more likely to earn these easily from their offspring at a very young age, though one could argue that such feelings arise out of dependence. They are, however, easily lost as the child ages and becomes an adult, but I digress.

    In conclusion, family, in the sense of kinship and relationships with others is important for our survival. These relationships make life worth living. For purely biological reasons, however, the word has less meaning to me. So long as we can find love, trust, and support in the people we surround ourselves with, be they related or otherwise, the nature of those relationships has little relevance.

    ...I've just scrolled through and noticed that my post may be a lot of this, but SHORT isn't one of them :shock:
  17. I think you start off learning about respect with your parent/s showing you respect when its earned and taking some away when deserved as well. I guess its kinda like that piggy bank analogy, you put into the piggy bank when you have earned respect and have some taken away when you don't deserve respect. I think parents start out with the most, though when you are little you don't know what respect is....you just listen and do as you are told when told to do so by your parents. I guess that's why kids tend to do as they are told by their parents, but as soon as a babysitter appears they act up as there is no respect built yet into that relationship.

    I know that for me I have great respect for my mother and it grows all the time. My respect for my father tends to fluctuate a lot more, mostly due to his actions (or lack thereof :roll: ) especially in difficult situations. Its a really sad thing....he is dying of cancer, but because he wants to die (he has said it himself....its the easy way out :evil: ), he isn't doing anything to make life as easy as it can be for him. My respect for him has dropped, yet I love him as I always have.
  18. Some interesting reading here - like most I guess one can relate to a bit of info in all threads.

    But we talk about parents earning our love/respect - what about the vice versa? As a child should we expect our parents to love us unconditionally? Most teenage homes have more than their share of arguments - how does one respect their child when they're acting like a total brat?

    Do we expect too much from our parents/siblings/children. Assuming they will ultimately understand what motives us because of shared genetics. Maybe accepting them as people - vulnerable to their own mistakes, and remembering they are acting upon their own learned experiences.

    Like many, I didn't have the smoothest of upbringings - my family certainly didn't share my visions or even approve of the paths I took along the way. But I love them nevertheless - unconditionally. And I know that is mutual. You may not always like the people you love.
  19. Jts - apart from the fact that I'm in regular contact with my family and love 'em to pieces, I could have written that entire post. I've been well accused by my folks of being too independent...

    BB, nice spin to the question: i.e, children needing to earn respect of parents. I'm guessing that being older and wiser, parents are generally forgiving because kids are younger and dumber... there is a limit though isn't there? When kids come of an age, then I think it's a two way street - respect needs to be earned and granted all round.

    Peeahhh, if a common thread that binds people defines a family, then that suggests that any group with a common goal/interest can be counted as family... which is a concept I'm partial too, but there's something about famililial family which does set it apart from a "common" thread kind of family. What is it about the accident of ones birth that makes those people whom you have a blood connection with more important than friends? (I guess this question is sibling and relative-centric. The parent / child connection would seem to be pretty self explanatory - ala what Kezza wrote) Is a cousin more important than your best friend??

    Hey Booga, interesting post, especially since you touched on nature versus nuture. You make an interesting point:
    But I have to ask - especially since you seem like such an optimistic kinda guy, do you really believe that?? Couldn't family break up make one more focussed on making the right choice in life partner and ultimately strive to be a better parent??

    The whole marxism angle was an unexpected twist and I haven't given it any thought. I'll have a ponder when I get some clear air... sounds like something worth reading.
  20. Who's to say that blood connection IS more important than with friends? If I had parents that beat me as a child, I would argue that a friend in life that treats me even 5% better than my parents did has the potential to be more important to me than my parents are.

    That being said, I agree that the famililial family is set apart...in general.

    Being 7 years older than me, I didn't have much of a relationship with my brother when I was younger. My sister is 4 years older than me, and we've faught like cats and dogs from day one. My sister and I have never gotten along. When I was old enough to realise the importance of family I went off at my brother for being so sucky. We now have a great relationship. I never bothered with my sister. We'll talk. She fricken made me bridesmaid at her wedding :evil:. People go "aww...that's sweet". They don't realise how much of an effort that was...and not ONLY because I was made to wear a dress :twisted: :p The relationship just isn't there...but I digress.

    In your cousin example, I'm here to tell you my friends are more important to me. But again, that depends on how you interacted with them growing up.

    There's not one cousin that's around my age. The closest cousins in age both took the drug path. One to the stage that her parents are now looking after their grandchild 24/7 because Heroin is more important to my cousin than her own daughter. Zero love or respect for that cousin.

    It could make them more focussed to be the opposite (Dave Pelzer comes to mind - not a parent break up, but he was abused..good book..read it ;) ) however unfortunately that's not always the case.

    There's just too much monkey see, monkey do in this world. Given the right support I think it'd be easy to be more than what you had growing up, but there's just such a lack of that support these days that's it's not always the case :(