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Putting family over self: why it matters

Fifty years ago, we tended to place the needs of families and communities over the needs of individuals more often. Today it is more common to believe instead that "I come first." What price are we paying for that shift in priorities?
Susan Swann, FamilyShare Modified: June 24, 2014 at 11:10 pm •  Published: June 30, 2014
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In an article titled "What Our Words Tell Us," columnist David Brooks makes the following statement: "Over the past half-century, society has become more individualistic. As it has become more individualistic, it has also become less morally aware."

He bases his conclusion on two studies that indicate a decline in the frequency of words such as “virtue,” “decency” "honesty,” “patience” and “compassion," as well as "faith." Brooks further asserts that the deterioration of these words in our language has been accompanied by a sharp rise in terms, such as “subjectivity,” and "individualism."

What price will we pay for becoming a loose federation of individuals?

Perhaps we might conclude, then, that while it may have been fashionable fifty years ago to be morally aware and place the needs of families and communities over the needs of individuals, today it is more common to believe instead that "I come first."

Former US President John Kennedy famously said: "Ask not what your country can to for you, but for what you can do for your country." Perhaps we might paraphrase his statement: Ask not what your family or your community can do for you, but what you can do for your family and your community. What price are we paying for becoming a loose federation of individuals, rather than a society of tightly-knit families?

What is the cost to a child, when a parent puts his needs first?

Greg and Katy (names changed) fell in love and were married. They had both been raised in homes where family, faith, and commitment mattered, and they shared those values. A few years later, they welcomed the birth of a beautiful baby. Greg was in a prestigious medical school and doing very well. Katy was working to support him and raise their small daughter. Life was good.

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