I face a real dilemma when trying to come to grips with the modern idea of a “family”. My generation lived in a very different era. We would have been baffled by the title of this essay. A dilemma about the proper structure of family life? What foolish talk is this? Back then we saw no other viable way of forming a family unit. There was only one good model, and it was ours!
By contrast, society today offers so many options. There are:
• A young couple with children, married or living in a common-law union.
• A couple in their 40s who pair off. If children are added, the parents are often in the last years of their 40s.
• Same-sex couples of all ages. If they choose to enlarge their family, they adopt or use sperm donation.
• Some families want children.
• Some families decide not to have any.
There are many more types of family unions, but the above will do for examples. Some similarities appear in these diverse examples. The couples I know consider themselves to be legitimate families. Each one strives to be loving, kind, and supportive of their particular “family”. Divorce or separation rates fall within the current national average.
Time throws some light on the years as they pass. It teaches that slowly or rapidly, change occurs. I am not the same person I was years ago. Why am I surprised when I see different norms for today’s families? What did I expect? Is it possible the premise of what a family should be, is still alive, only clothed in different forms? I like that conclusion, and feel comfortable with it.
My love of our family unit has been, and is, the major factor in my life. I cried bitterly when at first I could not conceive. When the doctor confirmed I was pregnant, Sheldon and I had a wonderful celebration. It was our great joy that we were able to celebrate three more times, at which point we decided our family was complete. Through it all, my family group was my fortress, the protection that enabled me to see the goodness of life, and to live it happily.
One summer night long years ago, we were driving home from Lethbridge to Calgary. It was a calm, beautiful, moonlit night. Our four kids were asleep in the back seat. We pulled over to the side of the road to arrange the blankets over our sleeping brood. The task accomplished, Sheldon paused and looked down at them. He turned to me and said; “At the end of my life, all that will really count is what I can do for them and for you.” Then he gathered me in his arms and held me close. Of course, I cried – but they were tears of deep happiness.
The picture of me with our first-born child, son Ralph, was taken 67 years ago. There are now many family units forming our growing family clan, in many different forms and sizes. I enjoy them all, love them all, depend on them all, and celebrate them all.
Long Live the Family Concept!! It Enriches Our World.