Family Business

handsI’ve read enough of the details of the Demoulas divide to understand a bit about the players and their rift. I get that the wounds are deep, the scars likely permanent. But isn’t it time to put down the weapons, take a breath and step back? Regardless of the visceral hatred between Arthur S. and Arthur T., are they both so self-absorbed that they can’t see the catastrophic collateral damage their family feud is causing?

I don’t get it.

How could I? Where I come from, family trumps business and profits. By far.

Kelley and I often discuss the very good example that was set for both of us growing up. We learned a lot about familial ties and loyalty, but also what it takes to run a successful business when the partners are family members. Our parents didn’t always agree on the way things should be done. They fought. They yelled. But at the end of the day, all that was put aside. They came together for food and drink, and to leave work –at work.  They even vacationed as a foursome. Because that’s what families do. Or at least, that’s what my brothers and cousins and I were taught.

Michael and I were talking about the Market Basket debacle the other day because its ripple effects had landed—or not landed—on his kitchen table. I outlined a snippet of the news, but then offered him a scenario in terms to which he might more closely relate. What if the family business with which he was already familiar had remained in all our hands and rather than feuding cousin Arthurs they were feuding Phils?

He couldn’t get there. The Phils of whom I speak are very different; in age, style, ideas and ideals. But they’re still family. In Michael’s world, what’s going on with the Demoulas clan is unfathomable.

And it should be.

If I’ve passed absolutely nothing else on to my kids, at least I got this one thing right: your family will always have your back. And that’s not just mom and dad. It’s the whole family. When I was young, I was as confident of that as I was that the sun would come up. It always did; they were always there.

Maybe the Demoulas craziness is just another example of what kids don’t have today. The more they’re bombarded with these examples of families that don’t get along, the more it becomes their normal. And if they can’t trust their families, then no wonder that real loyalty among their friends seems such an alien concept.

Michael has become distrustful. He’s in business for himself and he’s learning some hard lessons first-hand at a pretty young age.

Still, the idea that cousins can’t get along, that your family doesn’t have your back, to him –that’s just crazy talk, well beyond his comprehension.

And it should be.

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