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Every family has its unique culture and traditions that set it apart from others. A family is the basic unit in a community and significantly influences its cultural and religious practices. In essence, the two units (family and community) have a symbiotic relationship where one influences the other. For example, a community consisting of Christian families is likely to hold on the values of Christianity as standard morals. Similarly, a non-Christian family that joins a “Christian community” has higher chances of converting to Christianity. However, the families often retain its distinctive traditions and my family is no exception.
In my family, we are all Christians sharing the same denominational faith. My parents- especially my mother, who believed our life must reflect the Christian values. Respect and obedience were the cornerstones of our upbringing. She always insisted we must show respects and obey everyone regardless of their age, race or sex. I must admit these two virtues has played a critical role in shaping my character and making me who I am today. The lessons we learn as children always stick in our minds in nearly our entire lives thus shaping our interactions with people from different cultures. We live in a globalized world and meet from every part of the world hence the need to respect their cultural background during interactions.
Currently, I do not have any issue dealing with people holding a contrary opinion to mine since I grew up in a relatively liberal family where my mother gave us the freedom to express our opinions. Occasionally, I differed with her or my siblings’ position but that did not result in form of punishment. She believed in freedom of expression as long as it is done in a respectful manner without demeaning the other character. In essence, the freedom to hold different opinions on issues was one way of letting us be ourselves. However, the freedom had limits and some areas like going to church, school and keeping away from a bad company were non-negotiable.
Besides, my family believed in hard work as way of earning honest leaving. We are living in a competitive world where your focus and determination is what sets you apart from others. Opportunities are limited and the population is increasing creating an environment where only the fittest survive. My parents acknowledged this fact and placed work at the core of their parenting. There was punishment for failure to meet the expectations or not attempting. Every member of the family played a distinctive role and performed various tasks. My mother as the head of the family expected us to undertake family chores without a reminder. She believed we were mature enough to know what to do and when. Failure to perform your duties was punished using various methods including beating, denied a chance to watch or opportunity to hang out with friends. Even though I did not agree with her disciplinary approach, they did inculcate the virtue of hard work and discipline in me. But I cannot recommend beating as a disciplinary approach to young considering its psychological and physical impact on them. Nonetheless, most parents at the time used beatings as a preferred approach since it made fearful to act in a certain way.
In addition, my family’s favorite dish was soul food (Jamaican or seafood) though we also enjoyed other dishes. Perhaps the budgetary constraints limited my mother’s ability to purchase other foods limiting our choices. As a single mother, she provided for the family with little or no support from relatives meaning we had to forgo some luxuries. Despite these challenges, I believe our family is the best and given another opportunity I will still choose it. Mealtime was one of my best moments as it also doubles up as bonding time where shared the daily changes and also received wise counsel from my mum.
My mother is a perfectionist and she believed on the saying “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” She emphasized the importance of keeping our environment, bodies, and souls clean as it is one of the easiest ways to stay close to God. We conducted cleaning off the compound and house every weekend. Besides, personal hygiene was a priority as it did not prevent us from contracting but also gave us self-confidence. We had to take a shower every morning when going to school and in the evening before going to bed. She also ensured we learned how to wash clothes, mop the house and sweep the compound.  As a result, we turned out responsible citizens who value our environment and personal hygiene.
Apart from external cleanliness, my mother also believed we had to remain pure in the heart and avoid any act that defiles our bodies. For instance, she was very categorical that drugs and alcohol were no for her children as she is alive. Additionally, she cautioned us against indulging in unplanned sexual activities as they defiled our bodies hence making the impure. Our bodies are the temple of God and we must always keep them pure and spiritually nourished.
In conclusion, my family’s cultural practice was no different from most families in the neighborhood. We were Christians like most of our neighbors and also enjoyed soul food as a favorite dish. Besides, we believed in keeping ourselves clean both physically and spiritually.