The Concept of Family


Pessimists say that the family is eroding. Optimists say the family is diversifying. Both points of view are right. Families are more diverse and they are more in trouble—but not because of their diversity. The families of today—whatever their size or shape—are in crisis because our economy is failing, our national resources are shrinking, and our governmental policies to support them are inadequate.            

Constance R. Ahrons

This week I have been thinking about the concept of family. The ancients lived in clans or tribes; people of the middle ages lived in close knit social groups on landed estates; but more and more today we live with people we are tied to economically as opposed to the relatives that we feel love and kinship for.

At the same time, it is also true that more people are being forced to leave their genetic family behind to seek employment in far off lands, and a lot of these people are choosing to live alone.  There is a temptation to think that we are becoming a selfish planet of loners. But just because we don’t live together, does not necessarily mean that the bonds of family are eroding – it means simply that the concept of family itself is in transition.

Thanks to advances in technology such as cell phones, email and Skype your family is but an instant away. Need advice on buying a car? Text your son to see if he has read the latest consumer reviews.

Nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon? Skype with the Grandkids in Wyoming or Kuala Lumpur and see them live just as if they were in your living room.

Although you may not find them gathered around your dinner table on a Sunday evening; your family is actually more available to you than ever before “but” there is a catch.

YOU have to take the initiative and install Skype on your laptop, or update your Facebook page. You have to reach out and take an interest in your relatives – you can’t just sit back and wait for the doorbell to ring, or the postman to call.

To maintain healthy family relationships you have to be an active member of the family social circle and you have to be prepared to keep an open mind regarding what you see and hear as the younger members of your virtual tribe experiment with their communication styles and the images that they post of themselves. Blue hair might not be your thing – but don’t let that stand in the way of a heartwarming relationship with your granddaughter.

Remember – we were raised with a mandate to conform to fit in – these kids are not. They on a mission break free from the pack to find themselves; let’s help them do it safely and keep in touch at the same time.


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