Recently I came across this interesting article about Danish families on the topic of "Hygge" and fascinatingly in the process of reading I realised that the Danish essentially practise something that we have come to create as our core family values; something that we now refer to as connectivity.
Over the years as we became a family and grew in size and moved about the world, we saw different ways of being a family and interacting as a family. On the whole we came to view the Australian way of family life as rather negative-children constantly competing, boys against girls, men against women. Somewhere along the way (I think this started in Glasgow, when Damien and I only had each other for support) we started discussing co-operating, working together, supporting each other. As Willow and Gabriel got bigger we discussed their roles in supporting, how able they were to help, and how we appreciated their help. Initially this was simple things such as housework, and figuring out how to get along together, and eventually it progressed into looking out for the smaller people in the family, and offering support to them.
Day in day out we focus on co-operation. How as a unit of 6 do we get along? How do we share our space and still be ourselves? How can I be me whilst still
being part of the "we" of our family? "I" am important and "we" are important. What things are non-negotiable
for our unit? We focus on acceptance, understanding, co-operation,
support. We also focus on individuals feelings and needs in relation to
We like to live at hope in a space of safeness, everybody has the right at home to be themselves and comfortable with themselves at all times without ridicule or judgement. Our home is our haven, a place where we can nurture and support ourselves, where we can be in pain and be joyous without judgement but with the knowledge that anyone here can help, from the smallest to the tallest, even if that help is just a hug. The smallest people can always help in caring ways, and sometimes that's just a pat on the head, and sometimes that's enough to help return a smile to a sad person.
As a continuation we have the right to be interested and involved in what appeals to us without fear; without the possibility of ridicule or insult. We have a wide variety of interests in our home, and we always work towards acceptance and understanding towards peoples different desires, motivations and goals.
When one lives in a competitive community and family it seems to me that it becomes dangerous to express one's inner self, inner beauty and interests, so we aim to avoid competing at home unless the children are emotionally able to cope with the competing. Many board games here have been turned into co-operative games until various children have had the emotional skills to cope with losing the game. When everyone works together to win or lose, there is no emotional distress associated with failure for the child, and it is much easier for them to cope with the game. It is of course useful to discuss playing competitively and encourage children like this to see that it could be fun to compete, but introducing competition before the child is ready creates fear of failing and can be very unhelpful for certain personality types.
Australian culture is generally competitive so by keeping competition out of our home we create a haven where one can be oneself, and where the challenge is to improve oneself, rather than to create hollow comparisons that leave a child and young person feeling emotionally vulnerable and inclined to hide their true nature and personality. Home needs to be the place where the child can reveal all of themselves, and be safe from judgement.