Families: What We Grasp from Structure
As I was rummaging my way through piles of what seems to be “ancient” photographs I stumble upon a family portrait taken at Christmas time. Mom decked in ruby red and kelly green, Dad in a forest green thick cable knit sweater accompanied by a wide smile, my brother in a green ensemble and my sister and I matching in velvet red dresses with appliques of lace delicately attached to the bottoms of the dresses. This picture is: the past, a testament, a temporary freeze in time but a warm memory to fill the hearts of each family member. I am inclined to scatter around photos and reminisce into the past just to kindle a single moment of joy, make that moment seem alive once again.
Looking at these photos brings this spirit of innocence and imagination in perfect harmony. A duo to divide yet always a pair in a spectacular way. Albums and scrapbooks galore; a representation of our family but this structure, a mother and father accompanied by children is not the only structure crafted. Is it? There is a variety in objects too, cars, food, computers etc. Is there something to ponder that I simply didn’t see? It always seemed that every family must be a flawless almost unreachable status of perfection.
The ideal family, at least what society makes the typical family is a mother, father and several children. Family according to Webster’s dictionary: A group of people who are related to each other. The Nuclear Family Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation. ~Margaret Mead The nuclear family consists of the parents, a mother, father and their adoptive or biological children.
This family is one half of the families with children under the age of 18. 70% of families are nuclear families. These type of family is depicted as caring, loving and devoted to each member of the family. Within this category of a nuclear family there are 3 sub categories: the husband works outside the home while the mother is a homemaker, the wife works outside the home however the husbands works inside the home and both parents work outside the home. The picture of the wife watching Oprah is not reality of screaming, hungry, moody children hanging on this one woman.
A day at the office is not bliss but a stressful impediment simply to get a hot meal on the table. The same rule can apply to the wife leaving the home and the husband “supervising” his children. But sometimes both parents work resulting in a babysitter or a nanny. This has disaster or enjoyment written all over it. The children can love or despise the caretaker. While this family seems cookie cutter and ideal this family can flatter under everyday pressures, bills, taxes, debt etc.
This family may be close knit but conflict can arise as life complicates. This structure is a reflection of my family but my family is not the exemplar to emulate. The Single Parent Family Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride.” ~Unknown This type of family warrants a tug at my heart strings. There is pity, sorrow and heartfelt emotions attached with these two words: single parent.
This is not the only reality. Many children are happy and stronger with the presence of one parent. Can this be? If we look at Shania Twain, country singer, her birth father abandoned her. She had one parental figure yet this impediment did not diminish her passion of music. She was transformed into an renowned country singer who now is blasting on my CD player.
We can wonder, speculate and question but this predicament is not a deranged idea: it is an increasing reality. This child may not have two guardians due to death or divorce but the child is still ebullient and flourishing. There is normally less tension in the household as the primary concern is the child not a spouse. The child’s needs are placed above the needs of the parent. The child can be more open to discussion with the parent as there is no presence of another parent. Love and devotion is not a structure but a gift that always surprises and fills a child with joy.
The Extended Family A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it. ~ Susan Sontag (American Author) By definition an extended family is a complex family, a multi-generation family. This family has a core of the nuclear family yet there is several adult figures in the household not just the biological parents. In this larger family there is one predominant figure possibly the oldest member in the family but this person is captain of the ship. Grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins may live in one household. These people can live in one household for numerous reasons.
These include: financial standing, health issues or divorce, the divorced parent may come home to their parents’ with their children. This structure can strengthen the bonds of family outside major events but maintain a standard of respect and compassion. My family was transformed into an extended family when my grandparents lived with us for three months. It was marvelous having them with me to experience and celebrate all the accomplishments and joyous moment in our lives. Christmas with seven people: crazy yet remarkable to have my mother’s parents watch their grandchildren rejoice in the magic of Christmas. It was a grand event with fresh homemade waffles, sizzling bacon and brewing coffee courtesy of grandpa.
I always yearn for intimate and fond moment like this memorable one. This larger family is connected not always by blood but by good intentions. A family is a group of people who would give up opportunities to have love and happiness in their lives instead. This family like all families can struggle but it is persistence that binds these people together under one roof. The Childless Family “DNA doesn’t make a family, love does.
“~ The Fosters The childless family: without children but not without ecstasy. Some couples can not have children or chose not to have children but this never rules out love. A couple make focus more on their careers or each other. This couple may have desired children but it was not in their deck of cards. Most couples do have children whether adopted or biological but children are not the qualifier for love. Couples without children tend to have an emphasis on education as this education is a direct factor in finances.
Couples will be more likely to have pets and eat healthier as they have the expenses to spend. Being a parent is a blessing but it is not the only way to display affection and love. A couple is a united duo that demonstrates compassion and fondness: the quality that all couples desire. These are ways family are classified and identified but this does not mean a family can not fall into several categories. We love others, we think of others, we care for others and we remind others of our love for them. We can imagine a perfect family without comprehending the struggles and impediments that are attached with this family.
We can foster love without acting with it. We can have a family but have no love. But we can greatly judge other families without any affection. Family is love. Family is hardship. Family is euphoria.
Family is life. Family is a binding and eternal commitment to love others. Family is a covenant and it not exchangeable. I have cherished these lessons and been reminded that my first Christmas card was just one moment in my journey called life. Family is not an important thing.
It’s everything. ~Michael J. Fox