Friday, November 24, 2017

What Is Your Definition of Family?

Family Lessons From My Child

Family is our choice. Those were the words my 8 year-old posed to me recently. He was making the eloquent argument for why he thought one ginormous celebratory party was in order for his birthday. While typically we give the kids a choice for birthday parties – friends at the zoo or a sleepover, family over for dinner and cake – my son challenged my definition of family. He made his invitation list and when I looked I saw that he had included aunts, uncles, cousins, and entire families – not just the children with whom he plays. I gave a gentle reminder to him that he could do something with friends for his birthday or have family over to celebrate. He looked at me, titled his adorable head, and taught me a lesson.

Mom. You are the one who always says we can make our own families. We can treat our friends like family. I don’t want anyone to feel left out, so I want everyone I consider family to be invited.

Hmmmm. I thought about all of those people in my smallish country home. In a Minnesota winter. He saw an opening in my hesitation and pursued.

Mom. Roman (our dear friend) is our family. You even said so. He celebrates Christmas with us.

It is true – when my children created their family tree as a genealogy project they added Roman, who good-naturedly agreed that he would play the part of the tree house.

Mom. You say that family is what we make of it. Our friends are our family. Besides. Some of my family aren’t really my friends.

Spoken with the honesty of youth.

What is family?

Most people (99.8%) by definition consider a married couple with children to be a traditional family. Even a married couple without children is considered by 92% to qualify as a family. A report from ABC News gave the rundown of the modern American definitions of families.

  • 39.96% of people believe that an unmarried couple living together is a family.
  • 83% of people believe that if you add kids to that unmarried, cohabitating couple that it becomes a family.
  • 64% of people surveyed felt that a gay couple raising children together qualified as a family.
  • 51% of people believe that pets are included in the definition of family.
  • And 60% of people agree with my 8-year-old – if you consider yourself a family, you are a family.

Other more scientific studies conclude that families do not necessarily have to share biological ties, but they do share similar goals. Protection, sheltering, and providing food are all qualities of family members according to Dr. Murray Bowen. He claims that family members interact with each other throughout series of reciprocal interactions (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours), and that at times they can live under the “same emotional skin.”

The definition of family in America and the world is evolving, both legally and socially. Just watch the popular show Modern Family and you can see signs of these changes. Research does show that family engagement – the active participation in family structures – is beneficial to everyone involved, but especially the development of children.

So as I looked at my child who was clearly forming his own definition of family I realized that somewhere along the way my own had adjusted as well. I grew up in a huge crazy Irish-German family, and always had plenty of cousins – more than 50 in all – to go around. I love that family. But I also love the family I have created with my husband, our children, and our dear friends.

The house filled with our eclectic family for the party, and the Minnesota winter was kind to our crowded party and gave us 60 degree temperatures so we could spill comfortably outside and into the yard. I looked at the faces of my brother and sister, nephews, Roman, and all of the other friends gathered to celebrate and I made my own wish as my son blew out the candles on his cake. I hope my children always have this feeling of family, no matter how it comes to be.

Related posts:

  1. Build a Strong, Resilient Family
  2. Expanding the Family
  3. Family Dinners Lead to Better Grades

View full post on Parenting Tips For Raising Successful Kids | BetterParenting.com

What Is Your Definition of Family?

Family Lessons From My Child

Family is our choice. Those were the words my 8 year-old posed to me recently. He was making the eloquent argument for why he thought one ginormous celebratory party was in order for his birthday. While typically we give the kids a choice for birthday parties – friends at the zoo or a sleepover, family over for dinner and cake – my son challenged my definition of family. He made his invitation list and when I looked I saw that he had included aunts, uncles, cousins, and entire families – not just the children with whom he plays. I gave a gentle reminder to him that he could do something with friends for his birthday or have family over to celebrate. He looked at me, titled his adorable head, and taught me a lesson.

Mom. You are the one who always says we can make our own families. We can treat our friends like family. I don’t want anyone to feel left out, so I want everyone I consider family to be invited.

Hmmmm. I thought about all of those people in my smallish country home. In a Minnesota winter. He saw an opening in my hesitation and pursued.

Mom. Roman (our dear friend) is our family. You even said so. He celebrates Christmas with us.

It is true – when my children created their family tree as a genealogy project they added Roman, who good-naturedly agreed that he would play the part of the tree house.

Mom. You say that family is what we make of it. Our friends are our family. Besides. Some of my family aren’t really my friends.

Spoken with the honesty of youth.

What is family?

Most people (99.8%) by definition consider a married couple with children to be a traditional family. Even a married couple without children is considered by 92% to qualify as a family. A report from ABC News gave the rundown of the modern American definitions of families.

  • 39.96% of people believe that an unmarried couple living together is a family.
  • 83% of people believe that if you add kids to that unmarried, cohabitating couple that it becomes a family.
  • 64% of people surveyed felt that a gay couple raising children together qualified as a family.
  • 51% of people believe that pets are included in the definition of family.
  • And 60% of people agree with my 8-year-old – if you consider yourself a family, you are a family.

Other more scientific studies conclude that families do not necessarily have to share biological ties, but they do share similar goals. Protection, sheltering, and providing food are all qualities of family members according to Dr. Murray Bowen. He claims that family members interact with each other throughout series of reciprocal interactions (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours), and that at times they can live under the “same emotional skin.”

The definition of family in America and the world is evolving, both legally and socially. Just watch the popular show Modern Family and you can see signs of these changes. Research does show that family engagement – the active participation in family structures – is beneficial to everyone involved, but especially the development of children.

So as I looked at my child who was clearly forming his own definition of family I realized that somewhere along the way my own had adjusted as well. I grew up in a huge crazy Irish-German family, and always had plenty of cousins – more than 50 in all – to go around. I love that family. But I also love the family I have created with my husband, our children, and our dear friends.

The house filled with our eclectic family for the party, and the Minnesota winter was kind to our crowded party and gave us 60 degree temperatures so we could spill comfortably outside and into the yard. I looked at the faces of my brother and sister, nephews, Roman, and all of the other friends gathered to celebrate and I made my own wish as my son blew out the candles on his cake. I hope my children always have this feeling of family, no matter how it comes to be.

Related posts:

  1. Build a Strong, Resilient Family
  2. Expanding the Family
  3. Family Dinners Lead to Better Grades

View full post on Parenting Tips For Raising Successful Kids | BetterParenting.com

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