In an age of self absorption and extension of childhood selfishness many humans are beginning to lose an understanding of what it means to care. Historically men were the primary breadwinners, somewhat disciplinarian, and cared much less about raising offspring and about the emotional nuances which women were so adept at. Times have changed and both spouses often want careers and a major fatality is often neglected or ignored offspring. At no other time has caring for spouse and offspring been more important and it seems to be a dying skill which should be resurrected.

Caring fundamentally means to nurture and protect.  Nurturing fundamentally means encouraging or motivating the growth, development, or improvement of the love subject. If you care about someone then you encourage, praise where appropriate, empathize, converse or talk with, share experiences together, show affection and kindness, and offer your help and opinion as needed.

Protection fundamentally means trying to keep your family from harm or injury of a mental or physical kind. Mental protection may mean defending your spouse’s opinions, beliefs, and actions from abusive or critical humans. Physical protection may mean installing smoke alarms as an early warning of fire or stepping in to prevent violence on your spouse or offspring.

Caring for spouse and offspring is much more difficult if you don’t have a vocabulary of appropriate words to use when dealing with various emotional states. For example, what appropriate words of empathy do you use when a spouse or offspring seem to have had a bad day and are in a depressed mood? Do you ignore this depressed mood or empathize and say I know how you feel, tomorrow will be better, or how can I lift your spirits?

There is hatred, disgust, sadness, anger, envy or jealousy, fear, shame, pity, happiness, sympathy, anticipation, suffering, kindness, love, affection, surprise and other nuanced emotions which a human can display. How good are you at recognizing these emotions and what do you say or do when they are manifested or displayed in your spouse or offspring? Reading someone’s emotions and knowing the right responses is what emotional intelligence is all about. Emotional intelligence often only comes to humans with a lot of experience or interactions with all kinds of humans over a long period of time.

Caring is largely an acquired skill whose foundation lies in a human who is really interested in other humans and what makes them tick. If you are a novice at caring then my recommendation is that you read some books or articles about human emotions and feelings with plenty of real life examples to demonstrate this emotional behavior. Learn the vocabulary of emotions and their nuances so you can then begin to think about the emotions which humans are showing in your presence. This knowledge will become especially handy when you are teaching your offspring about the emotions which they are displaying so they too can begin to verbalize what is going on with them emotionally. Self emotional awareness is especially useful in life when evaluating interactions with other humans. Humans may not remember what you did but they will usually remember how you made them feel.

Fundamentally humans will either like, love, or approve of what you say or do or will disapprove or strongly disagree with what you say or do. Yes, there is often a third reaction which is just ignoring what you say or do. Learning how to react to this approval, disapproval, or ignoring is very important in life because relationships survive or gradually fade away based on appropriate or inappropriate responses or reactions.

Caring often means that you are willing to spend time, energy, effort, and money interacting with other humans, especially your spouse and offspring. Don’t spend enough time, energy, effort, and money on a human and they may begin to think that you are ignoring them and don’t really care that much about them. With many offspring one of them will feel less loved if you don’t spend as much time, energy, effort, and money on them as on the other offspring with which you are more generous with. Similarly you may feel less loved if your spouse lavishes much more time, energy, effort, and money on the offspring and not enough on you.

An important indication of caring is caring enough to spend adequate time conversing or discussing disagreements or problems and not constantly transitioning into an argumentative mode where someone must win the argument. Whenever a disagreement occurs it is important to try and learn the basic reason for it and to evaluate whether there is some truth to it or it is just an emotional point of view without a foundation.

Listening is very important as well as using plenty of follow up questions to pinpoint the foundation of the reason for being angry about something. What made you angry, why are you angry, and whose fault do you think it is for making you angry are all valid questions. Is there something that I or you can change to resolve the problem or source of your anger? Is it a situation which we will just have to live with or will it go away on its own with the passage of time?

Spending time, energy, effort, and money on your family can be looked at as a personal sacrifice of time, energy, effort, and money which you could have spent on yourself instead if you were single. A better way of looking at it is to think and believe that spending your time, energy, effort, and money is an investment in the family which will benefit you in the short and long run with a happy ongoing family life, successful adult offspring, and happy retirement years together with spouse, adult offspring, and possibly grandchildren.

With a family compromises are inevitable. Both spouses are bound to have differences and complaints about one another. The wife may feel that the husband is not spending enough time interacting with the offspring and the husband may think that the wife is spending too much money on fashionable clothes and shopping for miscellaneous items which aren’t really essential. A possible win win situation or compromise may be for the husband to promise to spend more time with the offspring and do some housework which the offspring are not old enough to do and the wife may promise to spend less money shopping and promise to consult with the husband for non food and non beverage purchases. So the husband promises to schedule his time and activities to better meet the wife’s demands and the wife promises to budget the money spent on what are mostly non essentials.

An important aspect of caring is motivating or encouraging family members with praise and other forms of reward. Well done, I knew you could do it, good job, that’s the right attitude, I like what you did, you did that better than your best friend, you kept your cool, wonderful, nice, you can do it, work smart and hard for it, couldn’t have done it better, what you are doing will pay off in the near future, I think you can do it, give it a try, you will never know unless you try, graduate from high school with great grades and I will buy you a used car, etc. are all words of encouragement which can be used to positively motivate family members to do well, behave well, and improve in some way with new skills, behaviors, and knowledge.

Caring about your family members, being a good role model, and having a good paying job is about 90% of a lasting loving parental relationship. You will have your ups and downs and family members will have their ups and downs but ultimately if you give a damn and do your best as a parent and breadwinner your family should be a happy successful one.

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