What is family love?

In Photo: Here are some photos with my family during my recent birthday celebration at BBZ Bistro in Rockwell. From my husband, kids, dad and sister, to my relatives and, of course, my in-laws, I am grateful each day that I experience genuine and meaningful “family love” from them.

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LAST month I focused on self-love, and how knowing oneself leads to self-liberation. This month I would like to share my views on family love.

When I was in kindergarten, I remember a green book that contained short stories about a family. The family was composed of a father, mother, brother, sister, baby and a dog named “Tagpi”. A father provided. The mother took care of the kids. The big brother helped the dad protect the family. The sister helped the mom. The baby was the center of delight. Although our family dynamics today may vary, it still begs the question: Does “family love” mean the role we play in our family? Is it also determined by how well we perform this role?

I remember the story of a family friend, who as the firstborn gave everything to his siblings. He treated his own wife and kids secondary in importance. Is family love about sacrificing ourselves for the betterment of all the members?

At the other side of the spectrum, we also see situations where a sibling feels entitled to all that his or her parents provide. Is family love about how much financial support our family can give us?

Why is it important to discover what family love is to us? First, our primary experience as a social being is with our family.

It’s our first provision for security.  It greatly influences our views on love and relationships. Knowing what family love for us may be a good starting point in finding the right life partner.

Second, when we have our own family, our kids views on family love might become different from our own. Hence, the levels of affinities vary from a parent to a particular child or among siblings.  Knowing each one’s view may help us foster good relationships and maybe even form our family vision.

What is my own view on family love? I view family love as a safe haven of unconditional love, where everyone helps each other live a happy and fulfilled life. How and when did I firmly form this view? I actually formed it when I was already married. My own family had undergone a major division in 2010. When families divide, you always think it won’t happen to your own.

But when it does, I realize every member of the family takes it in different ways. For me, there were a lot of “whys” and “how comes”. I realized in time that each member of my family had totally different views on what makes a family.  We never professed it individually in the past.

Today I’m in an ongoing journey of getting to know what family love is for each one of us in the family. Both my husband and I draw our thoughts from our own experiences from our family and relatives. We show our family love in our daily actions, but I believe it’s also be good to put it in words. I believe our words give each of us a clearer idea on our shared and individual values.

Now that our kids are still young, I try to pick up cues. Reading The 5 Languages of Love by Gary Chapman was a good starting point.  Doing various activities with them individually and as a family also helps. I think our weekly “Game Night” continues to be a good avenue for discoveries. Recently, I saw how being with them when they faced challenges in school, instead of reprimanding them immediately, brought out a deeper family appreciation.

To me, another great effect of knowing what family love is that this allowed me to expand

my family.  It showed me that friends could be one’s “true family”.  I feel lucky to have discovered this principle, because it made the friendships I have today more meaningful. I will share more about this in my next column.

In conclusion, family love may be different for each person.  Moreover, our definition will surely evolve in time. But exploring it and putting our feelings and thoughts in words can only bear a positive impact on the life decisions we make in the relationships we build and continue to foster.

But the biggest impact for me is in our children. Our family love as parents affects their core values. It is their first sense of security.  It influences their purpose or nonpurpose. It influences their fears and nonfears. And, most important, it has a great impact on how they will transcend or not transcend these values with their own families in the future.