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Positive Influences on Home Life

family, common, income, children, welfare, union, ideal and expenditure

POSITIVE INFLUENCES ON HOME LIFE Before our discussion runs, as it inevitably must, into the destructive influences menacing normal home life, it is expedient to emphasize once more the positive resources for creating an affirmative home life, that we may not draw the mistaken in ference from these discussions, that painstaking defensive measures against the dangers represent the best social tactics.

There is no sociological recipe, so far as I know, for family affection: for that continuing and ever strengthening love of man for wife and of woman for husband, without which there is no family in the true sense; for that, if need be sacrificing, but in any event always uncalculating, love of parent for offspring, and that reciprocal attachment of child for parent which, beginning in physical de pendence, may ripen into a conscious loyalty match ing mother love itself; for all those natural ties, as we rightly call them, of brother and sister and other relations, extending into collateral lines in definitely according to circumstances, sometimes farther than consorts with the immediate economic welfare of the individual, so that a young man or even a young woman may at times obey a sound instinct when he goes into a far country for the express purpose of getting away from hii family and escaping from their traditions.

Common religious interests are among the strongest influences to support, develop, and main tain these natural domestic relations. The family altar is not so often outwardly visible in the mod ern home,—partly perhaps because rents are high, —but unless there is set up in the hearts of children a reverence for things really held sacred by the parents, one of the most ancient and the most es sential of intangible family bonds is broken.

Economic equality within the family, amount ing to the communistic formula, "From each ac cording to his powers, to each according to his needs," is another foundation stone of family soli darity. We accept that principle within the family as axiomatic. All the income is, of course, for the benefit—the wisely and justly apportioned benefit—of the whole family. If differences in education are made among the children, it is be cause of some real or assumed differences in their aptitudes, or because of changed conditions. Girls and boys share equally; eldest sons have no rights of primogeniture; youngest sons no exclus ive claim to affection. The welfare of each, broad based in the welfare of all, is our ideal, and even the persistent attempt at a practical realization of that ideal becomes a bond of union among the members of the family. No doubt that ideal fails in practice

often from miscalculation.

Such failure will be less frequent when the prac tice of budgetary standards becomes common, displacing the haphazard spending of whatever is in sight without regard to future or even present competing needs. As incomes increase, families have it in their power to pass over from forced standards to deliberately planned budgetary stand ards. On the lower plane they pay for rent, food, and clothing, more or less what they must. There is no margin for long-range planning, for saving and investment, as in building and loan societies or life insurance, except for burial expenses. On a higher plane of income many families continue just the same method of expenditure, not having ad justed their psychology to their earning power. Any American skilled workman or office man, with an income of nine hundred dollars a year or more, can ordinarily plan his budget on a monthly or annual basis, or his wife can do it for him if she has the chance, as, of course, she should; and such careful planning of expenditure, such matching up of expenditure to income, taking account of com mon family needs, and also of the changing individ ual needs of its individual members, will become a bond of union and strength in the family household.

Common interest in the physical and mental development of children, from the day of birth, through infancy, kindergarten, school, apprentice ship, college, professional school, wherever the destiny of the individual guided by parental care and encouragement and all other complex influences may lead him, is another such factor of family union. What subject is so engrossing in the family circle, what elastic and invisible bond so secure as the sharing of anxieties, the triumphs of such an interest as that of the education of the growing members of a family? Common house hold possessions, family parties at the theatre or elsewhere outside the home, or within its circle, and all the multitude of miscellaneous socializing ex periences,—each makes its special contribution towards that unique and indissoluble whole, the home life of the family.

Pride in family traditions may be good or bad. Often it is neither, but a rather harmless, some times amusing, artificially maintained satisfaction in doing things a little differently, in saying things a trifle otherwise, keeping up a distinction between the family and the neighbors, not so much because it is of any advantage to the family as because it may bother the neighbors.