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Family

  • A good home is a place where children can do what they like ... but not to somebody else.

  • To the family — that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.

  • One of life's few really reliable pleasures: to have a family you love, and to leave them for a week.

  • The cold truth is that family dinners are more often than not an ordeal of nervous indigestion, preceded by hidden resentment and ennui and accompanied by psychosomatic jitters.

  • Television's contribution to family life has been an equivocal one. For while it has, indeed, kept the members of the family from dispersing, it has not served to bring them together. By its domination of the time families spend together, it destroys the special quality that distinguishes one family from another, a quality that depends to a great extent on what a family does, what special rituals, games, recurrent jokes, familiar songs, and shared activities it accumulates.

  • In its effect on family relationships, in its facilitation of parental withdrawal from an active role in the socialization of their children, and in its replacement of family rituals and special events, television has played an important role in the disintegration of the American family.

  • ... the psychological attitudes which are indispensable in the American market place are disastrous to family life. Family life ... requires yieldingness, generosity, sympathy, altruism, tenderness—all the qualities, in fact, which lead straight to bankruptcy. ... the American family is tragically out of gear with the profit structure which has mushroomed up around it.

  • ... the American family is failing in its job of turning out stable human beings. ... It is failing because Americans do not dare to cultivate in themselves those characteristics which would make family life creative and rewarding. To do so, would ruin them financially.

  • How close beneath the surface, even in the happiest family, is the chronic grievance! I sometimes think that tinderboxes are inert and powder kegs mere talcum compared to the explosive possibilities in the most commoplace domestic situation.

  • The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.

  • ... my parents ... had decided early on that all of the problems in my family had somehow to do with me. All roads led to Roseyville, a messy, chaotic town where, as parents, they were required to visit, but could never get out of quick enough or find a decent parking place.

  • Without democracy in our homes, we will never have it in the world.

  • ... there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.

  • One never knows how much a family may grow; and when a hive is too full, and it is necessary to form a new swarm, each one thinks of carrying away his own honey.

  • Unkindness is death to the home. One unkind, unsocial, critical, eternally dissatisfied member can destroy any family.

  • Families composed of rugged individualists have to do things obliquely ...

  • Absence is one of the most useful ingredients of family life, and to dose it rightly is an art like any other.

  • The particular human chain we're part of is central to our individual identity. Even if we loathe our families, in order to know ourselves, we seem to need to know about them, just as prologue. Not to know is to live with some of the disorientation and anxiety of the amnesiac.

  • The family is our first culture, and, like all cultures, it wants to make known its norms and mores. It does so through daily life, but it also does so through family stories which underscore, in a way invariably clear to its members, the essentials, like the unspoken and unadmitted family policy on marriage or illness. Or suicide. Or who the family saints and sinners are, or how much anger can be expressed and by whom. Like all cultures, one of the family's first jobs is to persuade its members they're special, more wonderful than the neighboring barbarians. The persuasion consists of stories showing family members demonstrating admirable traits, which it claims are family traits. Attention to the stories' actual truth is never the family's most compelling consideration. Encouraging belief is. The family's survival depends on the shared sensibility of its members.

  • Every home has its influences, for good or evil, upon humanity at large.

  • A good home owes it, as an expression of thankfulness for its own happiness, to try and make up something of the lack that is in other homes.

  • It's not the best between my family and me. There are so many crimes left unpunished, debts unpaid, white elephants in the middle of the room that no one will even offer a peanut to. We are in the red, emotionally speaking.

  • We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.

  • Within our family there was no such thing as a person who did not matter. Second cousins thrice removed mattered. We knew — and thriftily made use of — everybody's middle name. We knew who was buried where. We all mattered, and the dead most of all.

  • Family jokes, of course, though rightly cursed by strangers, are the bond that keeps most families alive.

  • You ought to try surviving one of my family reunions. It's like having a bowling alley in your brain.

  • Family life! The United Nations is child's play compared to the tugs and splits and need to understand and forgive in any family.

  • ... they none of them threw themselves into the interests of the rest, but each plowed his or her own furrow. Their thoughts, their little passions and hopes and desires, all ran along separate lines. Family life is like this — animated, but collateral.

  • We cannot hide from one another: we know too much. We know one another's faults, virtues, catastrophes, mortifications, triumphs, rivalries, desires, and how long we can each hang by our hands to a bar. We have been banded together under pack codes and tribal laws.

  • A group of closely related persons living under one roof; it is a convenience, often a necessity, sometimes a pleasure, sometimes the reverse; but who first exalted it as admirable, an almost religious ideal?

  • I discovered, quite early in motherhood, that the longest and most painful deliveries occur when you give birth to stepchildren.

  • It was the old psychosomatic side-step. Everyone in my family dances it at every opportunity. You've given me a splitting headache! You've given me indigestion! You've given me crotch rot! You've given me auditory hallucinations! You've given me a heart attack! You've given me cancer!

  • ... we all carry the Houses of our Youth inside, and our Parents, too, grown small enough to fit within our Hearts.

  • However sugarcoated and ambiguous, every form of authoritarianism must start with a belief in some group's greater right to power, whether that right is justified by sex, race, class, religion or all four. However far it may expand, the progression inevitably rests on unequal power and airtight roles within the family.

  • I no longer believe the conservative message that children are naturally selfish and destructive creatures who need civilizing by hierarchies or painful controls. On the contrary, I believe that hierarchy and painful controls create destructive people. And I no longer believe the liberal message that children are blank slates on which society can write anything. On the contrary, I believe a unique core self is born into every human being; the result of millennia of environment and heredity combined in an unpredictable way that could never happen before or again.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • "A Balance Between Nature and Nurture," in Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds., This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women ()
  • And this is the way / We start the day / In a corner of Hell called home.

  • ... a true gentleman ... was characterized as the man that asks the fewest questions. This trait of refined society might be adopted into home-like in a far greater degree than it is, and make it far more agreeable.

  • Family is the source of life's most profound blessings.

  • Respect for each other is at the heart of maintaining balance in a family. If we cannot accept each other's ways we risk losing each other entirely.

  • One may have staunch friends in one's own family, but one seldom has admirers.

  • Personal hatred and family affection are not incompatible; they often flourish and grow strong together.

  • Against the long years when family bonds make up all that is happiest in life, there must always be reckoned those moments of agitation and revolution, during which the bosom of a family is the most unrestful and disturbing place in existence ...

  • Nobody, who has not been in the interior of a family, can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be.

  • Heirlooms we don't have in our family. But stories we've got.

  • [There is a] disconnect between official rhetoric and lived realities. Americans are constantly extolling 'traditions'; litanies to family values are at the center of every politician's discourse. And yet the culture of America is extremely corrosive of family life, indeed of all traditions except those redefined as 'identities' that fit into the large patterns of distinctiveness, cooperation, and openness to innovation.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Literature Is Freedom," At the Same Time ()
  • I doubt whether there is any subject in the world of equal importance that has received so little serious and articulate consideration as the economic status of the family — of its members in relation to each other and of the whole unit in relation to the other units of which the community is made up.

  • ... of the family as an economic unit — something which has its own claim, based on its own value to the nation, to its own share in the nation's wealth — there has been next to no consideration at all.

  • Pluck from under the family all the props which religion and morality have given it, strip it of the glamour, true or false, cast round it by romance, it will still remain a prosaic, indisputable fact, that the whole business of begetting, bearing and rearing children, is the most essential of all the nation's businesses.

  • When Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are alike, what he meant was that there are no happy families.

  • Peace, comfort, quiet, happiness, I have found away from home. Only your own family, those nearest and dearest, can hurt you.

  • We have the bad habit, some of us, of looking back to a time — almost any time will do — when society was stable and orderly, family ties stronger and deeper, love more lasting and faithful, and so on. Let me be your Cassandra prophesying after the fact, and a long study of the documents in the case: it was never true, that is, no truer than it is now.

  • I know why families were created, with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1926, Linotte, the Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 3 ()
  • The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet.

  • The etiquette of intimacy is very different from the etiquette of formality, but manners are not just something to show off to the outside world. If you offend the head waiter, you can always go to another restaurant. If you offend the person you live with, it's very cumbersome to switch to a different family.

    • Judith Martin,
    • in Susan Goodman, "Judith Martin," Modern Maturity ()
  • We have been a scattered family. If some of my Children could now be collected round the parent Hive it appears to me, that it would add much to the happiness of our declining Years.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to John Quincy Adams (1801), in Marie B. Hecht, John Quincy Adams ()
  • ... I had a family. They can be a nuisance in identity but there is no doubt no shadow of doubt that that identity the family identity we can do without.

  • I have always known that being very poor, which we were, had nothing to do with lovingness or familyness, or character or any of that ... We were quite clear that what we didn't have didn't have anything to do with what we were.

  • Everyone bowed to that unwritten law of family life which ordains that, in the long run, everyone submerges his personal preference in the effort to conform to that of the member of the circle who complains most loudly and is most difficult to satisfy.

  • To be polite to everybody except the people they love most is a nervous affectation that afflicts many families ... when they come home, they take off their smiles and soft words, and sit about, spiritually in their underwear. This isn't pretty.

  • Every articulate family ... generates its own stories, explanations and myths to illuminate the differences in temperament and talent among its children, the lines of allegiance and influence between parent and child.

  • We had codes / In our house.

  • Over the years, this family has had enough pets to make us feel as all-American as the next family. This is not to say that any of the pets have been successful. I have a theory about this. Animals, particularly dogs, pick up whatever human instability is in the air and become its primary 'host carrier.' And since I have always acquired a new pet to calm things down, the various rabbits, gerbils, mice, singing canaries and dogs have absorbed the tension and gone crazy — if they weren't already crazy when they arrived.

  • Food became the antidote for feelings of guilt, sadness, and anger. ... Food is a resolution to controversy; food is rescue. We ate and talked and cried and laughed in the kitchen and ate again. This was about more than just food. It was about our mom making connections the best she could and in the way she knew best across the kitchen table, across time and across sadness.

    • Rose Quiello,
    • "Dedicated to An Old Friend Whose Kindness I Shall Never Forget," in Regina Barreca, ed., Don't Tell Mama! ()
  • ... family relationships have made me so ill!

    • Sophia Tolstoy,
    • 1897, in O.A. Golinenko et al., eds., The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy ()
  • ... there is a spirit in every home, a sort of composite spirit composed of the thoughts and feelings of the members of the family as a composite photograph is formed of the features of different individuals.

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
    • 1917, in Stephen W. Hines, ed., Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, The Rediscovered Writings ()
  • If the members of a home are ill-temperered and quarrelsome, how quickly you feel it when you enter the house. You may not know just what is wrong, but you wish to make your visit short.

  • My father was a proctologist, my mother an abstract artist. That's how I see the world.

  • Some people have family crests, lions, tigers, unicorns, elephants — a whole menagerie — and if my family had a crest, you know what would be on it? A blintze. I mean it. All the good things in my life are measured in blintzes because by us it's not a party if there isn't a blintze ...

    • Gertrude Berg,
    • in Gertrude Berg and Myra Waldo, The Molly Goldberg Jewish Cookbook ()
  • All coming-out stories are a continuing process. Strangers take a long time to become acquainted, particularly when they are from the same family.

    • M. E. Kerr,
    • "We Might As Well All Be Strangers," in Marion Dane Bauer, ed., Am I Blue? ()
  • I do think that families are the most beautiful things in all the world.

  • My pride had been starched by a family who assumed unlimited authority in its own affairs.

  • Blacks concede that hurrawing, jibing, jiving, signifying, disrespecting, cursing, even outright insults might be acceptable under particular conditions, but aspersions cast against one's family call for immediate attack.

  • In our contemporary world, no one can think or work with a single picture of what a family is. No one can fit all human behavior, all thought and feeling, into a single pattern.

  • ... the task of each family is also the task of all humanity. This is to cherish the living, remember those who have gone before, and prepare for those who are not yet born.

  • As far back as our knowledge takes us, human beings have lived in families. We know of no period when this was not so. We know of no people who have succeeded for long in dissolving the family or displacing it.

  • ... where families suffer from disasters that are preventable, this is a measure of a whole nation's neglect. A society imperils its own future when, out of negligence or contempt, it overlooks the need of children to be reared in a family ... or when, in the midst of plenty, some families cannot give their children adequate food and shelter, safe activity and rest, and an opportunity to grow into full adulthood as people who can care for and cherish other human beings like themselves.

  • We cannot destroy kindred: our chains stretch a little sometimes, but they never break.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1670, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 1 ()
  • The family is not only a living arrangement. It has always been a symbol of survival.

    • Barbara Mikulski,
    • in Barbara Peters and Victoria Samuels, eds., Dialogue on Diversity ()
  • The free expression of resentment against one's parents represents a great opportunity. It provides access to one's true self, reactivates numbed feelings, opens the way for mourning and — with luck — reconciliation.

    • Alice Miller,
    • "Unintentional Cruelty Hurts, Too," For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence ()
  • It was only among your own people that you didn't need to shine, because that wasn't what mattered. Your own people were your own people. You could take them for granted, and be taken for granted by them. The bosom of the family was an extraordinarily restful place.

  • Over the years since I left home, I have kept thinking about the people I grew up with and about our way of life. I realize how much the bond that held us had to do with food.

  • When someone is born, wed or buried, there food will be, giving sustenance, making one feel secure. Food is the vehicle of love that is passed on in an Italian family, generation after generation. It is tradition.

  • We believe that the bigger the group that is eating, the bigger your appetite will be. We eat off one big tray set in the center, each person taking food with their right hand and throwing it into their mouth. We'd sit outside in the fresh air, drinking milk fresh from the cow, and eating meat fresh from the animals and vegetables fresh from the gardens. In our village eating was a celebration of good food, good company, good conversation, and good health.

    • Halima Bashir,
    • in Halima Bashir with Damien Lewis, Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur ()
  • ... there are dozens and dozens of ways to be a family ... Family tends to happen.

  • The first world we find ourselves in is a family that is not of our choosing.

  • The ideal family encourages the optimal growth of all its members and provides a safe space where individuals can more or less be themselves. At their best moments, families promote a sense of unity and belonging (the 'We'), while respecting the separateness and difference of individual members (the 'I'). Parents make and enforce rules that guide a child's behavior, but they do not regulate the child's emotional and intellectual life. Individual family members can feel free to share their honest thoughts and feelings on emotionally loaded subjects, without telling others what to think and feel, and without getting too nervous about differences. No family member has to deny or silence an important aspect of the self in order to belong and be heard.

  • But they tell us that even the little pigs grunt when the old boar suffers.

  • There are pictures of the people in my family where we look like the most awkward and desperate folk you ever saw, poster children for the human condition.

  • Your own family resemblances are a frustrating code, most easily read by those who know you least.

  • Friends, there is nothing like your own family to make you appreciate strangers!

  • You can be a nuisance to your family. You mustn't be a nuisance to your friends.

  • When you come from where I come from, if anyone in the family makes it out, the others kind of come with you.

    • Dolly Parton,
    • in Lola Scobey, Dolly, Daughter of the South ()
  • The one thing ... maybe no family could tolerate was things coming out into the open.

  • But there were years when, in search of what I thought was better, nobler things I denied these, my people, and my family. I forgot the songs they sung — and most of those songs are now dead; I erased their dialect from my tongue; I was ashamed of them and their ways of life. But now — yes, I love them; they are a part of my blood; they, with all their virtues and their faults, played a great part in forming my way of looking at life.

  • ... the national belief that there was a golden age of the family, a time when women and men contentedly played out their roles as given, when female chastity resolved the sexual conflicts between women and men, expresses not a reality about the past, but a longing for a world that exists in imagination alone.

  • ... each member of a family writes its biography differently ...

  • The structure of the family is not born in nature but in human design. What we can do, we can also undo.

  • In fact, the family as an institution is both oppressive and protective and, depending on the issue, is experienced sometimes one way, sometimes the other — often in some mix of the two — by most people who live in families.

  • My mother imparted her daily truths so she could help my older brothers and me rise above our circumstances. We lived in San Francisco's Chinatown. Like most of the other Chinese children who played in the back alleys of restaurants and curio shops, I didn't think we were poor. My bowl was always full, three five-course meals every day, beginning with a soup full of mysterious things I didn't want to know the names of.

  • The average family exists only on paper and its average budget is a fiction, invented by statisticians for the convenience of statisticians.


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  • Like many another romance, the romance of the family turns sour when the money runs out. If we really cared about families, we would not let 'born again' patriarchs send up moral abstractions as a smokescreen for the scandal of American family economics.

  • Nothing can more totally subdue the passions than familial piety.

    • Jean Stafford,
    • "The Liberation," The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford ()
  • To have all my dear ones together under one roof — that is all I ask of life ...

  • A bone of contention in the Drew household was always picked bare, being brought out at every meal and worried over with snarls and snappings.

  • I think the essence of family is that you have to agree to it, and then supply, out of your imagination and capacity for loyalty, the contents of it.

  • For families will not be broken. Curse and expel them, send their children wandering, drown them in floods and fires, and old women will make songs out of all these sorrows and sit in the porches and sing them on mild evenings.

  • Whatever might be the truth about heredity, it was immensely disturbing to be pressed upon by two families, to discover, in their so different qualities, the explanation of oneself.

  • I know that family life in America is a minefield, an economic trap for women, a study in disappointment for both sexes.

  • Freedom, like charity, begins at home.

  • We all owe each other concessions of taste and opinion for the sake of family peace and affection ...

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1838), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • In a family, the same spoken lines come in over and over. Intimacy exhausts.

  • Families never die.

  • ... there is practically no difference at all between a family and a nation, except the difference in size. A family is a nation seen through the wrong end of a telescope; a nation is a family seen through the right end of a telescope, and I don't believe it is possible to achieve a happy and successful family life, or a happy and successful national life, unless we bear this simple fact in mind and behave accordingly.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Unity Among Americans," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... unhappy families are conspiracies of silence. The one who breaks the silence is never forgiven.

  • The family is the scene of the most intimate and powerful of human experiences. Family situations are bloodier and more passionate than any others, and the costs are greater.

  • Does everyone turn into a truculent thirteen-year-old when they go home, or is it just me?

  • What families have in common the world around is that they are the place where people learn who they are and how to be that way.

  • You can cut the ties that bind but not without losing a part of yourself. You can walk away and hide from the people who made you, but you'll always hear them calling your name.

  • A cluttered refrigerator door is to a growing family what a wet nose is to a healthy dog.

  • I have long been convinced that families are the primary agents of social change in any society.

  • ... every family had its scandals sooner or later. The sure knowledge that this was true made living in a small town bearable.

  • A family is a burial mound of its own doings and sayings ...

  • The love of those among whom one has been reared is usually not love at all. One can die inwardly without any of them being aware of it.

  • I think one of the greatest destroyers of domestic peace is Discourtesy. People neglect, with their nearest friends, those refinements and civilities which they practice with strangers.

  • Healthy families are our greatest national resource.

  • There is much precedent in the family for pretending that the dead have not died but are living in other cities. Practicing a form of emotional etiquette, it is considered good form to spare elderly relatives sad news. Whenever we attend family reunions, the uncles give me a quick refresher course in who's officially dead and who's not. It would be helpful to maintain a cross-index, because some elderly aunts know while others don't know. ... (When a cousin actually did move to California, no one believed it — the other cousins all believed this was a euphemism for the much-longer journey.)

  • ... she's coiled around her family and her house like a python ...

  • ... if human justice is to supplement Nature's provisions, all family duties must be shared equitably, in person or by proxy.

  • Take it from me: no matter how few or how many children you have, or how little or how much money you make, your expenses are going to exceed your income by approximately a hundred dollars a month.

  • Your family is like your hair after the rain — you can't do a thing with them, so you may as well love them as they are.

  • In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry.

  • What is a family, after all, except memories? — haphazard and precious as the contents of a catchall drawer in the kitchen.

  • In families there are frequently matters of which no one speaks, nor even alludes. There are no words for these matters. As the binding skeleton beneath the flesh is never acknowledged by us and, when at last it defines itself, is after all an obscenity.

  • Family. They are the we of me.

  • The first axiom of the family vacation is that someone, possibly everyone, will get sick.

  • ... the family goes on vacation to become a family again.

  • ... the family on vacation doesn't truly travel — it explores itself.

  • Hubris loves families. Complacency will be punished. The Old Testament lives on in viruses that take root the day you book a non-refundable flight.

  • It has long been my belief that in times of great stress, such as a four-day vacation, the thin veneer of family unity wears off almost at once, and we are revealed in our true personalities ...

  • Today, what most people live in, or with, is the less-than-nuclear family. Working fathers are absent from home during most of the day, the children are schooled outside it, and practically all women who work for money must go outside to earn their living.

    • Elizabeth Janeway,
    • "Family Life in Transition," in Eli Ginzberg and Alice M. Yohalem, eds., Corporate Lib: Women's Challenge to Management ()
  • One ought to have the right to have a secret and to spring it as a surprise. But if you live inside a family you have neither.

  • Devotion to one's family is only egoism of a lesser kind.

  • If you wish to collect complimentary material for a record of yourself, never appeal to your relations. They may be proud of you as an asset to the family name, but they have a gift for remembering your gawky period privately, the follies and faults you committed and have forgotten. You may have come up in the world with a laurel on your brow, but if you go back home forty years later wearing two laurels on your brow, and a noble expression, they will miss the point.

  • Play is a universal language. It gives a sense of joy in being alive. It is one of the healthiest things we have in our culture. When we play, we give a gift of joy to another. Happy and joyous family times are a unifying force. They increase closeness and positive feelings. They increase loyalty to the family team. Everyone relaxes and feels more alive. Love just happens when you're having fun together!

  • A critical frame of mind does not make for domestic happiness.

  • ... there is no place in the world where courtesy is so necessary as in the home.

  • Courtesy, like charity, begins at home.

  • The three familial relationships — with our siblings, our parents, and our children — are irrevocable and irreplaceable. A person can be an ex-spouse, ex-friend, or ex-lover, but not an ex-sibling, ex-child, or ex-parent.

  • Dear, dear, the miniature world of the family! All the emotions of mankind seem to find a place in it.

  • It will be a beautiful family talk, mean and worried and full of sorrow and spite and excitement.

  • We do not discuss the members of our family to their faces ...

  • ... a democratic home is the foundation of a democratic state.

  • You think you have a handle on God, the Universe, and the Great White Light until you go home for Thanksgiving. In an hour, you realize how far you've got to go and who is the real turkey.

  • [Taking her new stepchild in her arms and exclaiming with many kisses on eyes and cheeks:] Surely thou wast stolen from me!

  • You have to reach out to people. To your family too. You can't just let them sit there, you should put your hand out. If they slap it back, well you reach out again if you care enough.

  • ... one's enjoyment is doubled when one can share it with a friend — and where can one find a more affectionate, a more intimate friend than in one's own family?

  • I got born in the wrong family ...

  • The nation is made up of all the families, rich or poor, united or separated, aware or unaware. The success of a nation therefore depends inevitably on the family.

  • Family was a fertile breeding ground for the kind of psychological bacteria that warped minds and devoured hope.

  • Life seems somehow less shocking, painful, and lonely — and more hopeful, agreeable, and beautiful — when our experiences are confirmed by those of others. Although each of us is unique, there are familiar responses and doubts and joys that let us know we have kin. We are not, after all, too strange to live.

    • Rosalie Maggio,
    • introduction, in Rosalie Maggio, ed., Quotations by Women on Life ()
  • ... large families are apt to get into a state of savage exclusiveness.

  • There's only one institution of importance in Italian-American life and that is the family.

  • ... if you are a stepparent, rush right out and get yourself a dog. Because it's very nice to have someone in the house that loves you.

  • I have slowly come to realize that a family is composed of people who are teaching one another.

  • In home life contentment is an essential to daily comfort. One discontented person in the house creates an atmosphere fatal to tranquillity.

  • Loving isn't liking and it takes liking to live together.

  • There's something stubborn about families, unhappy ones in particular: they outlive themselves, and then they live on.

  • A certain amount of flexibility in the social structure is an advantage, but the mass migrations now habitual in our nation are disastrous to the family and to the formation of individual character. It is impossible to create a stable society if something like a third of our people are constantly moving about. We cannot grow fine human beings, any more than we can grow fine trees, if they are constantly torn up by the roots and transplanted.

  • What the Nation must realize is that the home, when both parents work, is non-existent. Once we have honestly faced that fact, we must act accordingly.

    • Agnes E. Meyer,
    • "Living Conditions of the Woolworker," in The Washington Post ()
  • It turned out to be impossible for me to 'run away' in the sense other American teenagers did. Any movement at all was taken for progress in my family.

  • Family. A snug kind of word.

  • Oh — oh, why is it that the members of a family feel privileged to treat one another with a cruelty they would not exhibit to the merest stranger?

  • Two parents can't raise a child any more than one. You need a whole community — everybody — to raise a child. And the little nuclear family is a paradigm that just doesn't work. It doesn't work for white people or for black people. Why are we hanging onto it, I don't know. It isolates people into little units — people need a larger unit.

  • Intimacy between stepchildren and stepparents is indeed proverbially difficult.

  • Stepmothers in books usually behave very spitefully towards the children entrusted to them. But he was now learning by his own experience that in real life this does not always happen.

  • Though it is fairly easy to describe what constitutes a bad home, there is no simple definition of a good one. Conformity with the traditional pattern certainly is no guarantee of the happiest results.

    • Alva Myrdal,
    • in Alva Myrdal and Viola Klein, Women's Two Roles: Home and Work ()
  • The family is both mystery and reality; it houses our bodies and our spirits.

  • If the family were a boat, it would be a canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles.

  • Just as the authoritarian family is the authoritarian state in microcosm, the democratic family is the best training ground for life in a democracy.

  • Family traits, like murder, will out. Nature has but so many molds ...

  • ... in the traditional family structure of Persia ... one simply cannot discard close relatives just because one does not like them; rather one has to accommodate them, make allowances and accept them, like misfortune.

  • Family is just accident ... They don't mean to get on your nerves. They don't even mean to be your family, they just are.

  • The great advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life's essential unfairness.

  • ... it has been said that 'a normal family' is one that has not yet been assessed clinically ...

  • You might say that our original family is like a hand of cards dealt by fate. And that our life's task, emotionally, is dealing with this hand.

    • Betty Carter,
    • in Betty Carter and Joan K. Peters, Love, Honor and Negotiate ()
  • Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.

  • The craze for genealogy ... is connected with the epidemic for divorce ... If we can't figure out who our living relatives are, then maybe we'll have more luck with the dead ones.

  • Rituals are vital especially for clans without histories, because they evoke a past, imply a future, and hint at continuity.

  • [A good family is] much to all [its] members, but everything to none. Good families are fortresses with many windows and doors to the outer world.

  • Some people find out much too late in life that they are not the center of the universe. This must come as a real blow at age twenty-one or forty-one or sixty-one. Luckily, in a big family you know this from birth.

  • 'Which one are you?' is a question the members of big families hear all the time. ... Growing up in a big family you're surrounded by people a lot like you — you share rooms and friends, take the same bus to school, learn to swim or ski or sing together; your voices sound alike; people say you have the same hair or eyes. Despite what some may think, group identity can be very liberating. It allows you to focus on the things that are unique to you. ... Being in a big family forces you to develop those special traits early. After all, who will you say you are if someone asks?

  • There is a fifth child who lives at our house called 'Nobody.' ... 'Nobody' breaks windows, eats the frosting off cakes before company comes, leaves gallon boxes of ice cream on the kitchen counter before we leave the house for three hours, and delights in parking bicycles behind the car. 'Nobody' puts crayons in the clothes dryer and is not even tax-deductible!

  • [On speaking of family secrets:] I don't know how you heal a wound and not let it get some air.

  • My priorities have always been God first, family second, career third. I have found that when I put my life in this order, everything seems to work out. ... Making God and family top priorities does not demean the role work plays in our lives. After all, where do we spend more of our waking hours than at work?

  • I think husbands and wives should live in separate houses. If there's enough money, the children should live in a third.

  • Nobody in our family is smitten with ambition. Daddy is smitten with religion, Mama is smitten with love for her family, Kevy is smitten with Ronnie, Arlie is smitten with shame, and I love to sing.

  • ... the peace and stability of a nation depend upon the proper relationships established in the home ...

  • With relatives, long distance is even better than being there.

    • Esther Blumenfeld,
    • in Lynne Alpern and Esther Blumenfeld, Oh, Lord, I Sound Just Like Mama ()
  • Do they miss me at home, do they miss me? / 'T would be an assurance most dear / To know that this moment some loved one / Was saying, 'Oh were she but here!'

  • Every family is a 'normal' family — no matter whether it has one parent, two or no children at all. A family can be made up of any combination of people, heterosexual or homosexual, who share their lives in an intimate (not necessarily sexual) way. ... Wherever there is lasting love, there is a family.

  • Fortunately the family is a human institution: humans made it and humans can change it.

  • This family was a raw onion. Peel off one tear-inducing layer of deception, and you found another.

  • Harmony within the home is the very foundation of personal happiness, and a member of a harmonious family unit contributes happiness to all other human relationships.

  • Ours was a storytelling family even in pleasing times, and in those days my parents looked on words as our sustenance, rich in their flavor and wholesome for the soul.

  • Separate from the other unnamed billions who walk the earth, each of these little groups of three or five or twelve, brought together by the shuffle of chance, then welded by blood, sees in itself the whole of earth, or all that matters of it. What happens to one of the three or five or twelve will happen to them all. Whatever grief or triumph may touch any one will touch every one, as they are carried forward into the unknowable under the brilliant, terrifying sun which nourishes all.

  • In our family we have always had, and still have, this understanding: the problem of each member of the family is everybody's problem.

  • My mother and father and I now lived in the intimacy of estrangement that exists between married couples who have nothing left in common but their incompatibility.

  • Learn a language of another country and then you can go to that country: a place where the problems of your family will not follow. A language they do not speak.

  • This was the trouble with families. Like invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt.

  • Reunions are always fraught with awkward tensions — the necessity to account for oneself; the attempt to find, through memories, an ember of the old emotions ...

  • Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves.

  • Politics was an inherited affliction in our family, passed on like a weak chin from one generation to the next.

  • ... when all of us had time to be together we didn't want to share it with outsiders. As a result the Kennedy children became natives of the Kennedy family, first and foremost, before any city or any country.

    • Rose Kennedy,
    • 1939, in Laurence Leamer, The Kennedy Women ()
  • In that time and by God's will there died my mother, who was a great hindrance unto me in following the way of God; my husband died likewise, and in a short time there also died all my children. And because I had commenced to follow the aforesaid way and had prayed God that He would rid me of them, I had great consolation of their deaths, albeit I did also feel some grief.

  • The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us all to become our best while looking our worst.

    • Marge Kennedy,
    • in Marge Kennedy and Janet Spencer King, The Single-Parent Family ()
  • The American notion of family is perhaps the most romanticized, deep-rooted, and misery-producing fantasy of the last hundred years.

  • ... no one should have to conform to some mythical concept of the ideal family ...

    • Barbra Streisand,
    • "The Artist As Citizen," speech, Harvard University Institute of Politics ()
  • At times, my nostalgia for our family life as it used to be — for our own imperfect, cherished, irretrievable past — is nearly overwhelming.

  • A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.

  • One not-really-a-joke saying in my family is, 'The trouble started when you hit me back.'

  • Our house was engulfed in flames, yet I was told repeatedly that there was no fire.

  • Family is people who get you.

  • The first, and usually the last, classroom of love is the family.

  • Family! ... You might just as well celebrate battle, murder and sudden death.