Sydney Avey

Dynamic Woman — Changing Times

Family proverbs–time for a refresh?

Apr 5, 2016 | Family, Legacy, Uncategorized | 1 comment

storyteller recites family proverbs

Family proverbs, catchy sayings that hitchhike on the transport of family values, pass down through generations.

Proverbs, popular sayings that express commonplace truth or useful thought, pass down through the generations. What grandma said to you in your growing up years she likely heard from her grandma. Catchy sayings hitchhike on the transport of family values that travel from one generation to the next.

Family proverbs are effortless ways to address an observed behavior. When I prodded my children with the adage, “no rest for the wicked” I meant it is time to get up and get moving. When my mother said that to me, I did not take it as a pronouncement on my character, but as a humorous poke in the ribs. It was code for “start your chores” or “stick with your task.” I also understood that it was a comment on the human condition. We all have work to do. Lot’s of it. So roll up your sleeves and get to it.

While proverbs are universal in intent, as our culture changes the intended consequences change, especially when they are pulled out of cultural and historical context.This particular saying was part of a lexicon I used to introduce my children to the work ethic I was raised with, and they learned it well. My scrappy forebears had the proverbial American work ethic that helped each generation rise. But in today’s society, rest has become synonymous with sloth, an unintended consequence.

The origin of this saying is Isaiah 48:22 ” ‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’ “In context, it is a commentary on our fallen nature and our need for redemption, which brings peace “like a river.” That is quite the opposite of believing there is blessing in ceaseless work.

What values did your parents pass down to you in the form of a saying? Maybe its time to reexamine the aphorisms our parents appropriated from sources such as the Good Book and Poor Richard’s Almanac to see if they fit the current situation.

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