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I read in a couple of different places this morning about it being the birthday of Ernest Hemingway. One of those places mentioned that he had committed suicide in 1961, and that other members of his family had also chosen suicide as their exit strategy. I did a little reading and discovered that, according to a few sources, there have been 5 Hemingway suicides in four generations: Hemingway's father, three siblings, and his granddaughter. What a sad legacy!

It started me to thinking about families and their function in terms of showing and explaining what is and is not acceptable behavior. And yes, in the Hemingway family it seems that there have been plenty of mental and emotional issues that drive these tragic choices. But I still think that there is an example here in just how powerful family influences can be.

I know that as a parent, I hope I am broadcasting positive messages about what is acceptable. Reading about the Hemingways today made me stop and consider: what do my actions indicate is a good way to live? What do I emphasize by what I do? What behaviors that I illustrate will help the kids on down the line, and which will be problematic?

Life is hard, and people don't always hew to family influence; but I think it's foolish to ignore the value of intentionally living in ways we tell our kids we would like them to live. I hope the legacy our parenting leaves will be of lasting positive value in terms of how our sons learn to conduct their lives.
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