What makes up a Family?


Ahh the internet. It can be such a wonderful and striking tool. Yet, at the same time it can drive you crazy with search overload. Perhaps that is why I love those commercials for the search engine “Bing”….that is exactly how I feel some days when trying to find an answer.

Today I popped on the interwebs to look up the answer to a few questions and check out the news. While browsing I came upon an interesting article about what exactly defines a family. This got me to thinking, because as Alex and I have explored our options and choices in possibly having a child we’ve been told time and time again “How wonderful, you’ll get to start A FAMILY.” Or we’ve been told “That’s so nice to know you’ll finally be A FAMILY.” Well now, wait a second? Didn’t he and I become a family the day we said “I do”?

I realize that the family dynamic is traditionally two parents, typically a Mom and a Dad, and children. (Plus the dog and cat.) But that idea is, and has been for quite some time, evolving. Personally, I feel that Alex and I ARE a family. We have two cats and they are our fur-babies. We may not have children, but that doesn’t make us an less of a family. I mean, if you look at the stats compiled by the lead sociologist Brian Powell of Indian University, in 2010 eighty-three percent of the people surveyed felt that un-married couples with children constituted a family, but only forty percent of married couples with no kids were considered a family.** That doesn’t even begin to go into the figures involving less-traditional relationships. What is it about children that helps us as a society define our “family”-hood?

I’m not trying to open a can of worms here, truly I’m not, but to only have a single definition for “family” is a bit naïve don’t you think? I realize that not everyone may agree, but there are many legal and potentially life-changing ramifications for this very definition. Not to mention, your words may hurt the feelings, unwittingly, of the couple that is trying so hard to conceive and can’t by stating they aren’t “a family” without a child. Or perhaps the couple that chose to not have children, recognizing a lack of desire in themselves and thus the best interest of any child was for them to NOT have a child, and instead worked quite hard all their lives.

My point in all this is simply that there is no one singular definition of “family” and that is something we all should keep in mind. Your view and my view of what exactly constitutes a family may differ, but let’s remember that sometimes it’s ok to be different.

OOOO – k now that this post went completely away from where I started, I’ll shut up now. If you hate the post, tell me. If you like it, tell me. I’d really appreciate the feedback.

**The information stated above comes from the MSN article titled “Who’s a Family?” and all credit for any research for this article should go to David Crary of the AP.

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6 responses to “What makes up a Family?

  1. Just came across your blog. 🙂 I read a similar article today (or was it yesterday?) in the NYTimes. And I agree–it seems so narrow-minded to only define ‘family’ in one way. I feel like a ‘family’ in a way with just my husband, even though we have no kids. But also, I’m really, really close to my extended family, and I know some people aren’t close to theirs, and so when I say I have family obligations they’ll be like … with your AUNT? Just skip it! So I totally agree; it’s weird to judge what other people define as a family. And you brought up a great point about how hurtful that could be to a couple trying to conceive–that would be so devastating!

    Love your blog!

  2. Thank you so much Kelly! I completely understand the extended family aspect as well, sometimes its just easier to say “I have obligations” without explaining who or why.

    I hope you’ll continue to read!

  3. I really like the new look… just miss yall’s photo on the top. It was cute and very personal, not just like, generic blah leaves for fall. OH WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IS TAKE A PHOTO OF YOU TWO PLAYING IN LEAVES, AND USE THAT FOR YOUR FALL THEME. Hehe…

    And personally, I don’t think you can really slap a definition on “family”. It’s unique to everyone, it would almost be like trying to define the meaning of life. No matter who you go to, it’s going to be a different answer. I don’t agree with the percentage of people who say that you are a family only if you are a husband and wife, with kids. Like you said, some people’s kids are their pets (I know Hunter is like a little furry brother to me). Call it what you will, it all boils down to the individuals involved.

    In the end, if they see themselves as a family, even if it is weird to others, that’s all that really matters. Who are we to say that you’re not a family because you’re two women living together, or a lady and her dog and cat, or just a father and son? I hate that there will always be folks who will go against that, but that would just get started on a rant about overly religious and prudish people that are dead set on doing things the “godly way” or the “right” way, and I really don’t want to go there. 21st century folks… they need get over it. But that’s another argument for another day. 🙂

  4. Thanks Vikki, but Huntie isn’t your brown furry little brother but a dog? I’m shocked! I think you make some really good points there. (That took me four tries to type…) Ultimately all that matters are the individuals and how THEY define their family.
    Thanks for the comments on the look of the page, I’m working on a header that should be up tonight and will have a picture of us. I have an even more fun one for October planned!

  5. The interesting thing about anything that involves having kids is, everyone thinks they suddenly have the right to comment and make their own judgements about the process. ; ) Defining your family on their terms is part of that. Maybe it’s that people tend to associate “family” with multiple generations. Who knows… but yes, the definition of “family” has evolved as long as there have been people and different cultures. I certainly think a couple can be their own family. Maybe that’s a good come-back when people make those comments, “Well, I already think of the two of us as a family” (with maybe a “but yes it would be lovely to maybe add a child to that…” or something, if that feels true to you).

  6. Marcy – you make a great point with the multiple generations statement! Thanks for the comment 🙂