What Is a Family? Stephannie Jennings Marriage and Family Professor Dawn McNeal April 8,2013 What Is a Family? The Definition of Family What is a family? According to information that I read in the course textbook entitled Public and Private Families, it states that the growing diversity of families and the widespread ambivalence about them raise the question of how we should even define a family. Some observers claim that families are so diverse that the concept of the family may not even be useful anymore.
At the other end of the spectrum observers are so extreme, that they have gone as far as to say that politicians should only use the singular form of “family” (instead of the plural “families”) to signify that there is only one proper kind of family, and that is the married heterosexual couple living with their biological children. Though I acknowledge and respect that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement.
My parents divorced when I was five years old and though I was raised by a single mother, with a very strong family support system I might add, I know that I was a part of a loving family.
My Early Years I am a part of a loving private family of 5. Though my dad left our home when I was only five years old, I was never apart from him. My dad would pick my brothers and myself up every other weekend minimally. Now that I am an adult I can identify with the emotional pain that the divorce caused my mom, but never the less she never kept us away from my dad, and I truly commend her for that, as I am certain that it was not easy. My mom raised myself and my two older brothers to respect and love each other, and to this day my brothers are still hands down two of the most important people in the world to me.
Since the very early stages of my memory, I can recall spending quality time with my immediate and extended family. The total family structure which included aunts, uncles, cousins and most importantly grandparents were always important in my household growing up. God and education were also atop my mom’s highest priorities, and to this day they remain at the top of mine as well. My Private Family I am a divorced mother of three, two boys and one girl, which is the same number and gender of children that my mom had.
The only difference is the order of birth. It’s funny but, I often find myself making comparisons between my children, and my brothers and myself. I often stress the importance of family to my children, and tell them that when all else fails in the world, you should always be able to rely and depend on family. I teach my children to love and take care of each other, and to always be there for one another. Though I am divorced from their father, I never try to impede or hinder the building of their relationship with him, or his side of the family.
I believe that children should discover and embrace both sides of their lineage, so that they can have a sense of where and who they belong to. I also believe that it is important for children and people in general to feel as though they belong to something or someone who loves them, and I think that being a part of a strong and positive family structure helps to build character and boosts one’s self esteem. These positive affects that are produced from a strong family structure are more and more evident as time goes on, and are key in their development and maturing into the role one must assume in the overall family structure.
Family Development Theory In the Balswick’s book The Family, they discuss the concept of the family-development theory. This theory explores the development process of the typical family at different stages or points in life. It tracks the different phases of the private family from the beginning of the marriage, through the birth and childhood of the children all the way through the most recent grandchild. They note that certain stages require more family structure than others, and that within each stage the family must accomplish certain key developmental facts.
They also elaborate on the fact that there are developmental tasks to be mastered by each individual family member at a particular stage. They state that the family cannot successfully move on as a unit unless all individual family member accomplishes their respective task. That is the great thing about family; everyone is included and plays a significant role, and if one member falls short a strong family will always have a support system in place. I don’t care how some may view the concept of family, family will always be relevant to me.
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