evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo

They are indeed alright

Times are changing and as a result, so are families. With there being 'no successful template', the societal breakdown that some may have predicted didn't materialise

evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo
20 September 2017, 7:30am
'As long as they grow in an environment where the values of respect and care for one another reign, they will indeed be alright'
'As long as they grow in an environment where the values of respect and care for one another reign, they will indeed be alright'
Do you remember the American TV sitcoms for the 80s and 90s? They were usually aired on Italian TV stations. You always had the mother, in her forties or fifties, and the father coming home from work. Sometimes the father was a police officer (Family Matters – the one with Steve Urkel) or a maintenance worker (Roseanne). They had a few children and the series would focus on the function, and dysfunction, of it all. It was what you’d call ‘typical’. In some of them, you could see a spark of modernity – some of the topics discussed, such as drugs and gay relationships, were quite taboo at the time, especially the ones from the 1970s and 80s.

But things have changed since then. One of the most-viewed series at the moment is ‘Modern Family’ and it’s a bit more colourful than the older ones. The series became popular because it reflected societal changes that were present. Different kinds of relationships and structures. It brings to the forefront important themes and normalises what television didn’t normalise in the past decades. 

All around us we see different families. We know of tightly knit ones, and others which struggle more. There is no successful template. A recent video clip produced by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society entitled ‘our children are alright’ sheds light on the tolerance, or lack of it, faced by different families in Malta and Gozo.

"Legislation can be easily changed but attitudes and customs take longer. They need to be worked on everyday, but by bit"
It talks about the experiences of different families and how children, at the end of the day, are just fine. The societal breakdown that some predicted didn’t materialise. During the divorce referendum campaign, and other important civil rights pushes which came later, some sections of society saw their arrival as the devil’s work. Marriages will all fail. Gay marriages will destroy the fabric of society. Didn’t we all hear these? Wasn’t the world supposed to end? Yet, here we are.

It is not straightforward locally for such families. Despite huge progress, difficulties remain. As I’ve written repeatedly in the past, legislation can be easily changed but attitudes and customs take longer. They need to be worked on everyday, bit by bit. I think every generation is getting better but one can never rest on one’s laurels. Values such as respect and dignity to all have to be entrenched in every generation. The ‘millennial’ generation is most certainly the most open-minded. This is not just limited locally, it is a trend across the globe, especially the western culture. Eventually, all this will become the new ‘everyday’. Ages from now, we may even be incredulous at the manner we’ve treated swaths of individuals and people over the past decades. 

The message from the President’s Foundation clip is simple: the children are alright. Research and experience have repeatedly validated this notion. Children who were born and live in different structures of families face no additional challenges, except possibly bigotry by others. As long as they grow in an environment where the values of respect and care for one another reign, they will indeed be alright. The common denominators of the best childhoods are two (and I know this is a cliché but it’s true): respect and love. The rest, as the good folks at Modern Family show us every week, are just details.