Who is in your family? Take a moment and think, if you were to list up all the members of your family who would be on the list? If you want to really play along write down your list. Now who did you include? The people in your home? Your parents? Siblings? Grandparents? Aunts, Uncles, Cousins? Inlaws? Step parents, brothers or sisters, children?
The point here is we all know what a family is, and we assume that others around us have the same concept of family as we do. However the concept of family is in reality incredible varied. “Family” is something which is culturally relative, and going through rapid change in recent decades.
The standard Western model of the family is called the Nuclear Family, or the Standard North American Family (SNAF for short) which consists of two parents and their children living in the home. This is the standard most sociological research has been based on and the typical model which other family forms are measured against. Even within our private thoughts in our diverse societies we often compare our family with the Nuclear family as the norm.
The problem with this concept is that it does not match the reality of the family in many parts of the world. Blended families – or step families, single parent families, families with same sex parents, families with cohabitating (but unmarried) parents, and couples who choose to remain childless all must be compared to the idealized Nuclear Family. Many of these family forms are therefore seen as dysfunctional, abnormal, “broken” or in some other way less acceptable then the Nuclear Family.
Some cultures include several generations within the same household. Traditionally people of India, the Middle East, and much of Asia have had households consisting of children, parents and grandparents, and in some examples a good deal of Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.
My inspiration here is to accept all family forms as equal, to see the value of the family in whatever form it takes in your case, in your community, and in diverse countries around the world and allow social change to bring forth new and equal results.
Your thoughts are welcome for discussion!!