What is a Family?

Today a little boy asked me if he had a REAL family. Why would you ask me that, Benjamin? I questioned the boy. Benjamin went on to explain that his mommy and daddy no longer lived together. He now lived with his father and uncle John. He had visits with his mother on a regular basis. She now lives with a man and his two children.


He went on to explain that a little girl at school, upon hearing of his current living situation, told him he did not have a REAL family. I assured Benjamin that he does, indeed, have a real family. In fact, he has a larger family than many boys and girls. Benjamin has more people to love and to love him. Long after my short visit with the boy, the question remained on my mind, What is a family? Did I give Benjamin the right answer?


Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines Family as 1 a: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation : Fellowship. There are other definitions; there is reference to ancestry, to a group living under one roof under one head. Clan, race, household; all just words. In America, today, there are so many types of families. It is no longer an unshakable rule that a REAL family must consist of two biological parents and their children. Children, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, guardians, adopted parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and the nanny (how about the family pet?) are just some of the players in a REAL family today. The familial configurations go on and on. On top of our quickly changing value system, we must also consider that America is a huge melting pot for other cultures and each has brought their familial traditions.


So, if there isn't a set standard any more, how is one to know if they are a part of a REAL family? What makes one household happy and healthy while their neighbors are not? I chose to go back to Webster's definition; a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation. Does it matter if a child has one parent? Two dads? If love for each other is the most common affiliation we have, if care for each others well being can turn to conviction, do we have to subscribe to the old adage that birth parents must raise their children in order for them to grow up happy and healthy?


Perhaps the old concepts of RIGHT and WRONG are transforming just like the planet and it's inhabitants. Maybe, just maybe, the new paradigm is in the love we share and our commitment to making each other great.


Out beyond notions of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.


© Chi Kids Inc




Educators & Practitioners