The theme for August and September is the EXTENDED family and how the norms are passed on or ignored by the next generation. This cultural phenomenon of teaching a type of BEHAVIORAL CODE or SOCIAL GRAMMAR is inevitable. To live together is to learn from each other. Mom’s habits may become my habits. Grandfather’s values might become mine.
In tighter cultures of the past, where the extended family lived together, the cultural norms where potent. What you heard from father at the evening meal or campfire might also be heard in the fields or on the hunt by your uncle. The elders taught SOCIAL GRAMMAR or how to behave in the family, in public, in the workplace. This grammar displayed the family’s values or the community’s values.
Here’s an example of SOCIAL GRAMMAR.
When I lived in Mongolia, one such norm was to entertain your drop-in guests with honor and with TIME. There was no rushing the spontaneous visitor in those days. No matter that others waited for the host or hostess. Appointments were put aside, plans dropped, and friends waited.
The host and hostess would serve customary milk tea from their thermos, set out a bowl of doughnut-type pastry and a bowl of candy or bread with jam. In extreme cases, the host and hostess –after about 45 minutes –might tell the guest of their plans and ask them to join them on the road, This meant to walk to the bus-stop with them or see them off on their way.
The guest should be obliging and reach for coat and hat and walk the way with them. Thus, the spontaneous visit never turned into the full meal of freshly made noodles in beef or lamb soup.
To watch your parents’ interaction with others, was to TEACH YOU how to do the same.