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Families provide people with an atmosphere in which to live, grow, and develop. A family culture is established by the parents and instilled in the children during their upbringing. A healthy family is a family which follows a set of strong morals, stays loyal to one another, cooperates, and works together to avoid conflict. An environment where there is openness amongst family members is ideal because minds that are open are more susceptible to avoiding conflict than minds that are closed. If conflict gets the best of a family, it has the potential to increase hostility and create remoteness between family members, however, if a family resolves conflict, it can strengthen and enforce the family relationships.
A family must establish a set of values and morals that the members should try to live and abide by. It does not mean writing them down on paper and following them as if they are laws, but it simply means taking a practical approach to raising a family. The best way to ensure that these morals are followed by the children is by having the parents follow them as well. Children learn by modeling the authorities and in every family, the authorities are the parents. The parents are ultimately responsible for their children s behavior because the children act accordingly to what they are taught and what they witness. If the parents set a bad example for behavior, chances are that the children justify any wrong behavior by arguing that that is how their parents act.
An important precept that any parent should follow is not to give into temptation. This means being loyal to their partner by not committing acts of adultery. Willy Loman gave into temptation. He did not follow proper morals when his exposure to loneliness got the best of him. His son, Biff, was devastated after he caught his father being disloyal and having an affair behind his mother s back. The incident scarred Biff for life and at the same time, caused great conflict between him and his father. If Willy would not have even become involved in an affair, his relationship with his son and family could have been more fulfilling. However, Willy was an impulsive, even selfish thinker and he went ahead with having an affair, giving in to temptation.
For a parent to have an affair is very risky because it jeopardizes his whole family relationship. If his actions continue, disloyalty can lead to greater conflict and eventually complete family dysfunction. That is why a person must choose a partner wisely. We must choose a partner with whom loyalty seems most likely and feelings of temptation seem absent. When there is loyalty in a family, there is less hostility between family members, which leads to less conflict.
However, conflict can take on many forms, so for a family to be fully prepared to deal with conflict, family members must be willing to cooperate with one another in a mature and civilized manner. Stubbornness is a mental blockade in people that can prevent families from resolving their differences. It causes people to be narrow-minded and prevents them from considering and visualizing other people s views, which makes it even harder for families to overcome conflict. No family or group is perfect; however, it should not be too much to ask from each person for a little cooperation and open-mindedness on most issues. Cooperating is one way to combat conflicts that arise. If a family succeeds in resolving conflict, then the process that they took resolving that conflict can strengthen their relationship and turn a negative situation into a positive one.
Willy Loman was a man who created conflict because of his stubbornness. His mind was closed to suggestions from people, and he did not want to be the first to admit that he was wrong. His family suffered because of this characteristic, and as a result, they were unable to resolve conflicts that festered over long periods and eventually developed into deep, emotional hurts which never healed.
Miscommunication was also a reason for why these deep, emotional hurts never healed. Willy was unwilling to talk with Biff about the affair incident that Willy created his own reasons for why Biff did not get along with him. Willy insisted that Biff was spiting him, but in reality, Biff had already come to accept the fact that his father was not perfect and that spiting him had worn off as a motive for retribution. It was not until the end of the play that Willy and Biff reconciled after they finally talked about their differences and their love for each other. It turned out, all they needed to do was just talk to each other, instead of fighting and refusing to confront one another.
A family should be willing to take risks and confront problems that pose as conflicts. Confronting every single issue is not healthy, but confronting those issues that significantly bother family members should be considered. Linda was an emotionally weak character who was unable to confront Willy about his thoughts of committing suicide. She was afraid of what might happen if he found out that she knew that he was emotionally unstable. Psychologically, she was powerless to talk him out of the state he was in, so each day she tried to sweep the problem under the rug, hoping that it would magically go away. Unfortunately, there came the day when she could no longer sweep the problem under the rug and Willy succeeded in killing himself because there was no one with whom he could openly discuss his problems.
Willy buried many of his problems deep inside of him. Problems with paying insurance, selling merchandise, earning money, and talking with Biff were problems that Willy tried not to bring to the attention of his family because he did want them to think that he was a lesser man. He did not want to admit to himself that he had not achieved everything in life that he wanted. As a way of relieving his own lost potential, he constantly pushed his son Biff in hopes of making him a sports superstar. Pushing a kid very heavily is taking a risk. The kid may become extremely competitive in nature and may not be able to handle any situation of loss. A parent should not do everything for his child just because the parent knows what he is doing. The parent should just guide and direct the child so that the child takes some initiative and learns things for himself. In Willy s case, he did almost everything for Biff and never really gave Biff a chance to do something for himself. This way, Biff never fully matured like kids such as Bernard; Biff relied on his father to rescue him when the going got tough.
Another example of Willy s poor fathering skills was that he never admitted the truth. He made up lies and denied that he was less than a success. Unfortunately, this disposition was replicated by his other son, Happy. Happy grew up distorting the truth and conjuring lies to make himself look better than he actually was, just like Willy. Happy was a prime example of how completely a parent s demeanor can be mimicked by a child. Reasons for Happy s warped personality can also be attributed to the fact that he lived in the shadow of his brother Biff, who was the favored child. Happy always strove for attention but his efforts seemed fruitless. It is not fair for parents to favor one child over the other. All children should be shown love and affection equally from their parents in order for them to feel accepted and affirmed by the most important people in their lives. Neglected children are innocent victims of negligent parents. Feelings of rejection at a young age can seriously damage a child s psyche and consequently, he might be an underachiever the rest of his life.
Equality amongst family members, especially children, is essential for the proper development of a healthy family relationship. During the early stages of family growth, the parents have more control and influence over their children s lives so the parents must be sure to instill positive values in their children. These values are put to the test as the children enter the teenage years and are more exposed and susceptible to other influences. After a family goes through some tough conflicts, the goal is to overcome those conflicts and pull the family more closely together.
Conflict in families where strong morals and cooperation are lacking can produce a hostile and remote relationship between members; however, families that have these two aspects established can actually overcome conflict and by doing so, grow closer together. The Lomans were a family plagued with dysfunction because of incompetent parents who were unable to create and maintain a healthy family relationship. Disloyalty was a significant factor that challenged the unity in their family. It caused a huge conflict to incubate into family dysfunction and it signaled the break up of the foundation of what holds a family together, the parents. The parents unify the family and keep everything under control; at least, that is what they should do. Conflict should not be seen as an issue to doom the fabric of a family, but rather it should be seen as an opportunity to bring the best out in a family, no matter how challenging that may seem.
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