our everyday life

What Are Family Obligations?

by Rachel Pancare, studioD

For most people, family obligations are a built in part of life. Family obligations may include milestones, holidays or events where a family member is honored. Other family obligations may involve going places or doing things with family members even when those things are not enjoyable. Being part of a family most often brings joy to a person's life, and accepting obligations from time to time is a small price to pay for the benefits of family love and support.


Most family members recognize each other's birthdays. Family members may throw parties, give gifts or partake in activities together to celebrate the occasion. Family members who live far away may call or write to wish a relative a happy birthday. Letting a family member know you're thinking of him, regardless of distance, often sparks positive emotions that help strengthen the relationship. For some, this obligation may spark negative feelings though. For instance, some people may wish to avoid a difficult family member. In the "Huffington Post" article "Holiday Stress: 6 Ways To Deal With Difficult Family Members During The Holidays," author Therese Borchard encourages people to adopt the "It's not about me" mindset. "You think it's about you when your brother calls you a "selfish, lazy, son of a something," but actually it's not," she writes. "He is seeing something that has nothing to do with who you are."


Holidays are often associated with family obligations. You may be required to attend or host a gathering. You may need to purchase gifts or visit family members. You may be expected to call certain relatives. On holidays, such as Mother's Day and Father's Day, children may feel a family obligation to spend time with a parent. While visiting relatives for annual celebrations may be fun for some, others find these occasions exhausting and stressful. In a "Huffington Post" article titled "De-Stress the Holidays," social justice activist Robert V. Taylor recommends allowing the spirit of joy and goodwill to outweigh feelings of frustration should they arise.


Weddings, graduations and award ceremonies are examples of events that may require family recognition. Another type of event might be a religious ceremony such as a baptism, first communion, confirmation or bar mitzvah. You may also feel obligated to attend smaller-scale events like your little brother's baseball game, your cousin's piano recital, your uncle's Halloween party or your grandparents' barbecue. Teenagers may be particularly annoyed by having to attend family events. But FamilyEducation.com reminds parents to recognize that such attitudes are common among adolescents.


At times, family members may find themselves in need of help -- someone is sick, someone needs advice, someone needs a babysitter, a tutor or just a shoulder to cry on. In healthy, caring families, people support each other in times of need. Family obligations can include favors for relatives that aren't always easy or fun but are necessary and appreciated.

About the Author

Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images