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The First Mission of the Family is Educational Published: Friday, December 30, 2005 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Creating the Puertorian society of the future it is a matter of shoring-up our economic growth and development. But it is also a matter of personal and social renewal. There are two key dimensions for this kind of titanic reconstruction. First, is the development of mutuality, which is a positive and effective bond among all of us, and second is the nourishing of civility, which points to the commitment to the commonweal. We spend an excessive amount of time fighting with each other, and very little discussing societal scenarios for the future.

Without mutuality people are diminished, and we lose the capacity to live well. Without civility the community deteriorates, and the society runs the risk of becoming anarchic, neglecting the importance of working hard in our shared concerns. So in the global age of narcissism, pointing to the wrong idea that the human being can be its own best friend, we have to be alert to false and foreign prophets celebrating antisocial philosophies and announcing the time for self-centered Puerto Ricans who disdain their bonds to one another as well as the rest of society. It is time for all of us to be aware and understand the incoherence of some of these messages that destroy our public, psychological and intellectual confidence.

If we Puertoricans value personal, social and societal progress we should be alert to absolutist cures that violate the process of trying to enhance our quality of life. The challenge is to balance individual freedom with social development in the renewal of our main economic and educational institutions.

Engaging ourselves into the formidable task of redesigning government has to be coupled with an intelligent venture of recovering the community, the family, the schools, the neighborhood, the society, and above all, the renewal of the Puerto Rican psychology.

In order to foster the Puertorican prospect we have to acknowledge that the family is the first educational institution, and all others build on the family’s educational achievements, or must remedy its failures, in creating the personal foundations of relating to others (a healthy psychology of social reciprocity) and civic virtue (a healthy psychology of commonweal).

The family is also the most elementary mediating structure protecting members from the calamities of the over governed society or from the excessive state. Totalitarian governments have all tried to diminish the family or control it.

Moreover, the family, by setting patterns of behavior and providing essential psychological services to its members, reduces the demands and pressures on the government, so long as it is functioning fairly well. The Puertorican family required, for an era of reconstruction, is one that attends to its educational purpose and provides patterns of mutuality for all of its members. Education, particularly character formation, is the essential family task because children are first formed by family and under-educating them tends to have a domino effect in all the institutions that follow.

The family has to lay the psychological foundations, so that schools and even universities do not become overloaded and less able to do their job, and they in turn overload the institutions of work and of public security and safety.

While profiling the family for public policy purposes, we will have to come into terms with the answers to several essential questions: What is the meaning of a functional family? What are the visionary elements for the Puertorican family of the future? How can Puertoricans work with the visionary elements of their respective families? What are the empirical realities of these families, and how are they performing as they enter in the future? What is the real structure of values for the Puertorican families?

Family members are effectively moved by what they consider proper reciprocity. I have always cultivated the hope and the optimism that what works in frequently and small scales occasions for give and take, like Christmas and birthdays can also work (if properly designed) for larger scales infrequent; more strong out exchanges like children’s repaying their parents and taking responsibility for the future of their reality.

We all have to engage into researching and clarifying what can be expected for our families in the way to the future. The family mission is educational.

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