Good Example Of The Meaning Of Family Research Paper
The word “family” can conjure different images for different people. In its traditional meaning, your family is the group of people that you are related to. This includes your parents and siblings (your nuclear family), but it also includes your more distant relatives – grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and nieces and nephews. But many people consider others who are not related to them as their family too. For example, a husband can think of his wife as his family, or a boyfriend can consider his girlfriend and her children as his family. Some people are able to have their family legally recognized as such through the contract of marriage or civil union. Some people, including gay and lesbian couples in certain states, are unable to partake in this privilege. These people face challenges that most straight couples don't ever have to think about. For example, if a gay man is terminally ill in the hospital, his parents can prevent his partner from visiting him if they don't like him. If he were legally married to his partner, his partner would retain the right to see him despite the wishes of his parents. However, whether legally validated or not, the group of people you call family is the group of people you consider most important in your life. Even your pets can be members of your family unit.
The traditional nuclear family is a family unit that includes two married parents (one man and one woman) and their young biological children, all living under one roof. This type of family structure has existed for generations, but it was only until the last century that it became common. Before the 20th century, it was typical for the nuclear family unit to live with extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Until that time, most young people couldn't afford to live in their own homes. At the same time, the elderly parents of young couples were often unable to live by themselves and depended on the assistance of their children and children-in-law. However, with the improvements to health care that occurred in the early to mid 1900s, elderly people became better able to care for themselves and be self-sufficient for years after their children became adults. It was also around this time that rising wages made it possible for young couples to afford their own houses, and so the traditional nuclear family became the norm over the last century.
In its modern usage, nuclear family can mean several different things. It can mean a married, opposite-gendered couple and their adopted (non-biological) children. It can be a same-gendered couple and the biological children of one partner, or their adopted children. It can even be a same-gendered or opposite-gendered couple without children, or a couple and their pets.
Many people think of their friends as closer to them than their extended or even traditional nuclear family. Unfortunately, many people have not had the benefit of being raised in a loving, caring household. They may not love their siblings or parents, but feel obligated to say that they do because societal pressures to value our blood relatives above all others. For these people, friends fill the void that was left by their uncaring immediate family. These friends are their true family members. While they are not genetically related, they are related through the love and compassion they share for each other.
Sometimes, friends can form surrogate families for people who have lost their loved ones. Because we can choose our friends, but not our blood relatives, the friendships we form are often just as meaningful and important, if not more so, than the relationships we are born into. And in the presence of a supportive nuclear family, some people can create an extensive network of friends who they can come to see as their “second family.”
` We can also see our pets as important members of our family. As friends may become surrogate families for people who feel no bond to their blood relatives, pets may become surrogate children to people who choose not to (or cannot) have children. People who take responsibility for the maintenance of pets assume a caregiver's position. The relationship between a pet and its human owner is similar to the relationship between two people in a family, in that there is a bond of caring and love between them. Even if this bond is one-sided, as it might often feel for a parent towards his child, it is the bond that creates and defines families. Pets enhance our lives and they may be loved as dearly as children are. The passing of our pets may be just as tragic and significant an event as the passing of a relative.
While many people today eschew the traditional family unit, there are still some benefits to following tradition. For example, in traditional nuclear families, family members are given opportunity to gain greater self-reliance. Because the adult members in such a familial system must learn to live on their own without the financial assistance of their parents, the children of a traditional nuclear family will be raised with the expectation that they must do so as well once they reach adulthood. Secondly, nuclear families that are traditional tend to be close-knit. Mothers and fathers become close with their children, who are close with their sisters and brothers. There are multiple and well-studied advantages to being raised in a household where both parents are present, and these advantages are not limited to the financial and emotional well-being of the children.
In addition, those who adhere to the traditional family organization may avoid certain conflicts that those who eschew tradition must confront. For example, there is less conflict across family generations in a traditional household. Oftentimes, people of older generations disagree on the parenting methods practiced by their children. When there are only two generations living under a roof, arguments about parenting may be avoided.
However, there are also disadvantages to the traditional family structure. These disadvantages often come in the form of less support for individual family members. If a couple produce a large amount of children, they tend to have little time to think about or care for each singular child. Children in large families often feel passed over or neglected because their parents didn't have enough time to spend on each of them. In households that include more distant family members such as grandparents, uncles, or aunts, these family members may often serve as friend or confidant.
In that vein, in a traditional nuclear household, there may also be less contact with extended family members, which can result in feelings of isolation and loss of customs and traditional values. For example, when an immigrant family moves to a new country, they may lose contact with their family at home, and this can lead to a forgetting of traditions.
Not least of the concerns felt by members of traditional families is the fact that they are less resilient in the face of emergencies due to a reduced support structure. When parents and their children live with their extended family, when disaster strikes, they can rely on the aid of their other family members. In some cultures outside of the United States, the traditional family unit includes extended family for this reason. Those who live alone with their children have less of a support network than those who live with other close relatives.
For some people, extended family is better than nuclear family. People who live with their extended families have a more secure support network and are more likely to retain their cultural heritage. Extended family can also provide a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough. In addition, people who grow up surrounded by a large family tend to gain better interpersonal skills and become more outgoing. In a nurturing family, extended family can provide a feeling of belonging and of being valued. There are more people to serve as mentors, teachers, and leaders in an extended family. There are more people to potentially form close bonds with as well.
Whatever hardships they must face, each type of family has to adapt to the challenges of life. The families that can learn to change and learn from change stay intact, while the families that fall short of their challenges often fall apart. The members of broken families create their own, new families that consist of the people and animals that they love.
There is no right or wrong family style. A family can be two gay men and their golden shepherd or a man and woman and their three offspring. It can even be three people in a polyamorous relationship.
The definition of family is forever changing. Rather than worry about whether their families conform to the traditional standard, people should focus on surrounding themselves with other people who love them and for whom they feel love. Whether your family consists of your close relatives, distant relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of the four, family should always be those who help you prosper in life.
Ball, H. (2002). The supreme court in the intimate lives of Americans: Birth, sex, marriage, childrearing, and death. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Clark, Wanda M. & Serovich, Julianne M. (1997). Twenty years and still in the dark? Content analysis of articles pertaining to gay. Lesbian, and bisexual issues in marriage and family therapy journals. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Volume 3, Issue 3, pages 239-253.
Lewis, S. and Lewis, J. (1996). The Work-Family Challenge: Rethinking Employment. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Thesis Statement: Whether legally validated or not, the group of people you call family is the group of people you consider most important in your life.
Introduction: The word “family” can conjure different images for different people.
The traditional nuclear family is a family unit that includes two married parents (one man and one woman) and their young biological children, all living under one roof.
In its modern usage, nuclear family can mean several different things.
Many people think of their friends as closer to them than their extended or even traditional nuclear family.
Sometimes, friends can form surrogate families for people who have lost their loved ones.
We can also see our pets as important members of our family.
While many people today eschew the traditional family unit, there are still some benefits to following tradition.
More self reliance
avoid intergenerational conflicts
less support, less contact with extended family
Conclusion: Whether your family consists of your close relatives, distant relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of the four, family should always be those who help you prosper in life.
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