Planning for the Virtue of Friendship: #3 Family

Planning for the Virtue of Friendship: #3 Family
members of alex's family at her christening planning for family
my christening – I even know who some of these family are

Before we get to planning for family let’s do a quick recap.

The virtue of friendship relates to the development of excellence in relationships, and this combines aspects of household, relationships and spirit as a result of the values rethink.

We’ve done some analysis and found that a friendship is a mutually beneficial relationship that has developed over time, through shared experiences.

You can have a lot of friends but only about 10% off them will be special enough to be your besties.  But I also suggested that while some friends are more special than others, we should give equal consideration to all – even those we don’t personally know.

The friendship matrix in shown below.



I trust and treat other beings as well as I want to be treated.


Establishing a safe and fun space for my dogs that includes safe haven for native creatures


Maintaining and improving relationship with significant other. (Not mentioned further)


Maintaining and improving relationships international and e- friends, making new friends, especially local.


Managing and constraining relationships with family.


Giving something back to the community and the planet.

Immanuel Kant is my least favourite philosopher. He seems very dull and stolid by comparison to Jean-Paul Satre or Friedrich Nietzsche.

However, good old Kant is responsible for one of my most favourite philosophical notions. That is, that we should treat people as ends in themselves, not as a means to our own ends.

This is why I find the insult “tool” so disturbing – because it strips us of our humanity and makes us all screwdrivers, or hammers, or even worse – vacuum cleaners!

You may be wondering what this has to do with family…

In my observations, there are two different kinds of families. There may be more, you can let me know if yours is different – I will be very interested. Of course, it’s not either/or, it’s a continuum.

At one end, you have the kind of family where a child is a chattel – property. You might even call them a sort of slave for their parent’s pleasure. They are not permitted to be who they are. Maybe they are sent into the fields to labour, maybe they are sold, maybe they are killed (though this would be the really extreme end).

At the other, there are families where each child is nurtured and treasured for the unique individual they are. As though they own themselves, and just like the training wheels on your bike, they just need the merest hint of support while they become who they’re meant to be.

At one end, the family is held together by duty, and the other by love. For one Christmas is rules and obligations, the other a good fun catch up. The child serves the parents, or the parents the child.

Of course, this is a massive generalisation because all people are different, but if the idea makes no sense to you, tell me where I am going wrong. I dare you! I think both extremes are equally bad. I think the best place would be somewhere in the middle.

Anyway, my family falls at the duty end of the continuum. I think it’s too late to do much about that. We’re certainly not “friends” as we have defined them here, but they are definitely in the circle somewhere.

The general self-help consensus (another massive generalisation) is that I should work hard to restore the relationship… But I wonder why I should put the lion’s share of the effort into what should be a mutually beneficial relationship.

In any case, when you factor in dementia, it’s hard to imagine that I could achieve an outcome that would meet my needs. And that is ok too. I have already mentioned that my life is more like a tangled ball of string than a nice neat road map. Sometimes we just have to accept that we can’t get what we need, and we just have to choose to need something else. Hard as that is.

So for me, the thing to do is to develop a cordial relationship as if with a stranger, for example, someone who I see every day at the bus stop. To query their wellness, purchase things they need. Devote my suffering for the benefit of someone else.

How does that sound? Would you make the effort to remediate a familial relationship? Would you do it from love or duty?

Next time I’ll be tackling the notion of contribution.

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