Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Father's Day and Reflections on Family

                                                        Four Generations of Yost Men.                                                                             
This past Sunday was Father's Day and, as a result, I found myself reflecting about what my dad, as well as what my family, mean to me. There can be no doubt that I have been extremely fortunate to be blessed with a wonderful family that has been so loving and supportive my entire life, but I doubt that I reflect on this enough.

My dad has always been there for me. We are definitely very different people with very different interests, hobbies, and skills, but he has always demonstrated a deep and caring love for me. My parents scrimped and saved so I would be able to get a better education than what the lousy public school in our district would have provided, and this continued as I went to college and eventually moved to the D.C. area where I am now. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today without all the support my family, and especially my dad, has provided. Moving several hundred miles from home to one of the most expensive zip codes in the country requires significant capital that I would never have been able to furnish on my own, being a broke college graduate and all. I was fortunate to have a job opportunity right after college, but, without my dad, I wouldn't have been able to take advantage of it.

                                My dad's truck loaded with most of my worldly possessions.

Speaking of work, if there is one thing that stands out about my dad (and my grandfather too, who is practically a second dad), it is his work ethic. He is constantly working hard. But, all this hard work is not for its own sake, as is the case for the unfortunate people who live to work rather than the other way around. His hard work has always been to improve his life and the life of his family. Compared to my dad, I am simply a lazy bum. He has provided a clear model of someone who desires to improve his lot in life, and rather than waiting around for something to change, he goes and pursues that change to make it a reality. Looking around at the world today, it is clear that we need more people like my dad who are willing to put in the hard work to bring about change in their lives.

The world is a rough place to be on your own. The institution of family can make things a lot easier. If one looks at family economically, it is a way to drastically reduce transaction costs and pool capital and resources, not to mention fulfilling important social needs. There is a lot of trash talking about millennials living with their parents, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing if the family is still working as a unit and the millennial is working towards being a net contributor to said unit. Parents invest lots of startup capital into their children to get them off the ground. In a lot of cases the return on investment is largely psychological, but if a family is close-knit it can serve as an important institution that profits everyone who is a member.

It seems to me that people who suffer from the breakdown of the family are, in the end, suffering from a foundational problem. A successful family serves as a solid foundation upon which one can build one's life, and eventually even contribute to strengthening the foundation as well. On the other hand, people trying to start out life without a family that has their back need to establish their own solid foundation or they will be building their life on sand. It is harder to begin with and is prone to more serious accidents as the construction project commences. In my view, the breakdown of the family is fundamentally a problem that affects well-being. Those of us who profess to care about the promotion of well-being for ourselves and others should prioritize encouraging the strengthing of familial ties and strive to set a good example with our own families.

I am fortunate to have been born with a dad and a whole family that has provided a solid foundation on which to start my life, and, for that, I am very grateful.

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