The Idolatry of Family

As a reference group, a family's normative influence on behaviour, as well as consumption behaviour is acute. At times we are aware that our choices are a result of this influence, at times we aren't. For example, our choice of our morning cuppa may be because that's what we've been taking to since we were kids. We may never even notice such a choice, and therefore never bother to try a different brew. It is taken for granted, that's what we'd drink.

For marketers breaking such consumption habits that are set by familial influence is difficult. Because such habits are deeply embedded and taken for granted without questioning by its followers. Its an unconscious default practice that isn't noticed by its proponent. Marketers at times may even have to wait a generation to break into a family driven practice, to change it.

Now it isn't that a family's influence is all good. In fact many people live their lives out exhibiting behaviour that's been dictated by their family, especially parents. The ones who notice and try and change what they believe isn't 'right' behaviour face a struggle of epic proportions. Dr. Peck sums this all important wrestle well by pointing to a phenomenon he terms, the 'idolatry of family'.

'Two thousand years later millions upon millions of individuals must continue to struggle against it. The idolatry of family occurs whenever family togetherness becomes an idol, when it becomes more important to do or say what will keep the family matriarch or patriarch happy than it is to do or say what God wants you to do or say. This idolatry has posed a problem with which the majority of my patients have had to wrestle in course of psychotherapy. Remember the christian theology holds that God covenants with individuals, and not with organisations, including families. But it is not necessary to speak of this in religious terms. Secular psychotherapists for decades have been instructing their patients that allegiance to their personal growth properly supersedes allegiance to family norms.'


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