Is Loyalty Dead? Family Life in an Unfaithful World

By: Rachel Doherty

Loyalty seems a discarded value in the 21st century world. But what if it’s essential to good family functioning and effective parenting?

I recently spent a day researching a better deal on our electricity bills. We’ve been faithful customers of our electricity provider for over 15 years but discovered I can save around $60 a quarter by moving. A couple of weeks after I made the move, I received a call from our old company offering an even better deal. For 12 months I’d be $100 better off.

I find it frustrating that the only time you’re valued these days as a customer, is when you’re ready to go somewhere else. They won’t offer you their best, until you’ve already made the decision to go. That seems to be happening in the workplace too.

It got me thinking whether loyalty is dead, and if so, what it means for our families. Because family is all about loyalty and faithfulness. Having one another’s best interests at heart through the good times and the bad ones.

“Family is the most important thing in the world.” – Princess Diana

Putting family first is one of the parenting lessons I’ve learned from Donald Trump. It’s fitting that the President of the United States champions loyalty, given his conservative values. But the liberal world we live in today seems to make ideals like loyalty feel old-fashioned.

If you want your family life to be one of faithfulness and constancy, you’re going to need to be counter-cultural. Reward loyalty and make it the cornerstone of your family functioning. Read on to find out how to make it work in this faithless age.

Reviving loyalty in your family relationships

The concept of loyalty seems wrapped up in consumerism. The idea that if companies provide the right goods, great service and connect, you’ll come back every time.

Loyalty in a family might not work quite the same way, but there’s still some common themes. After all, parenting is about providing a service to our children. It’s about raising kids to be responsible adults who can make their own way in the world.

So I did a bit of digging about what builds loyalty in the marketplace. The best loyalty programs seem to have these features:

  • Outstanding rewards that consumers want
  • An emotional connection – well, at least we can do that one well!
  • Making membership about more than a transaction
  • Surprising the customer
  • Keeping the loyalty program simple

Translating that to a family, loyalty is built on that emotional connection. Those relationships between parents and children, between the adults and between the kids. We also need to offer something our kids genuinely want – love, affection, encouragement, empathy and a hug for those challenging times. Family life needs to stay simple, safe and secure.

“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” – Barbara Bush

We need to build time into our lives to hang out with our kids, so family life is about more than just getting things done. They’re the transactions that customers tire of too. And when it comes to cementing the loyalty of your kids, surprises are the stuff that memories get built on.

But putting these ideas into practice, is about more than a membership card when it comes to a family. Try these five principles to build loyalty into your family life:

1. Fight change, focus on progression. Life now features constant change; it’s something we all have to get used to, particularly kids. But our homes need to be a stable refuge, where people can expect things to be the same day after day. Make change a reaction, not the norm.

2. Value traditions. Much of loyalty is built on traditions. If you stick around for long enough you get the gold star and the free watch. The rites of passages that families honour on birthdays, graduations and other special occasions all add to a rich tapestry of belonging.

3. Be loyal to the person, not their behaviour. We still need kids to become socially responsible, so loyalty isn’t about protecting them from the consequences of their actions. It’s about being their ally as they face them.

4. Recognise constancy. Our world might not champion the quiet achiever, the peacemaker or the rule follower, but they all make the world a better place. Parents need to pick up that slack. Let kids know that their ordinariness is what enables extraordinary people to shine.

5. Include others. It seems a shame that if you’re not in the right club, you miss out on the special promo. Thank goodness family life doesn’t have to be like that! We can make our homes a place of welcome for others, where everyone can experience the magic of your family. You never know who’s life you might touch.

My new electricity provider has promised to pass on any better deals they make to lure new customers, even though I’ve signed up to this one. And at the end of the contract period, I’ll stay on the current deal if there’s nothing better on offer. It sounds too good to be true based on my past experience, but at the moment I’m just enjoying feeling valued again.

And that’s what loyalty is all about. Valuing the relationships we have. So what do you think? Can you buck the trend and build your family relationships around faithfulness, trust and loyalty? If we do it well enough, we’re going to have great teenagers who pass those qualities on to their own families. That’s worth working towards!

Article supplied with thanks to Tweens 2 Teen.

About the Author: Rachel Doherty helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.

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