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What Is Family?

In Awards, Opinion, Opinion/Personal, Personal on June 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Not long ago, I got into a discussion with a friend about the term “family.”  My friend is in college and was telling me about one of her classes in which they discuss controversial topics and the idea of “traditional verses non-traditional” was one of these topics.  Her view-point was surprising to me as she explained what her response in her class had been.  When she was a child, she thought that all families were the same.  All families had a mother and a father and that was it.  I searched my brain, but could never remember a time in which I also thought that all families were the same as mine.  But I quickly realized that was because I saw it every day.  I was raised by my mother alone, and most of my friends were being raised by both parents – the “traditional” family – so I always knew that there were different kinds of families.  Until I reached college, I had never heard the terms “traditional” or “non-traditional.”  I had never given it a second thought and my initial reaction to these terms was somewhat biting.  Being labeled a “non-traditional family” seemed almost like being excluded from some prestigious group, like any time that term was said, the say-er had an automatic distasteful tone.

I remember being in a family studies class probably more than 5 years ago.  I was never the type to draw attention to myself.  I took my notes and bided my time until class was over, making mental notes of points that the conversation brought up so I could use them later during open answer tests.  But on this one day, I knew I had to speak up.  My stomach was in knots and my brain kept saying “What the hell are you doing?!” But I raised my hand.  I demanded the attention of all my classmates to respond to a woman’s statement that children from non-traditional families are cheated out of a real family, that non-traditional families are detrimental to the development of a child.  My response was simple: “I disagree 100%.  I was raised by a single mother.  My father played no part in my upbringing, and I have no doubt that I am a better person because of that.  I was never cheated.  I never felt that I missed opportunities or missed out on a part of my life because of that.  If it wasn’t for the way my mother raised me independently, I could possibly not even be here now.  I understand that studies often show that children of single parent homes are more susceptible to learning problems, to lower socio-economic status, etc., but this is not always the case.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way and I disagree with generalized statements such as that.”  Needless to say, the woman tried to eat her words, obviously flustered in thinking she had offended me.

I shared this story with my friend, and she went on to say that she had also felt compelled to speak up in her class to voice her opinion that the problem is not “non-traditional” families, the problem is the perception of these families by those that are in “traditional” families.  Her point was that children should be taught of the differences from a young age, and this would in turn begin to remove the stigma that can be attached to being “different,” because she believes the real controversy is not in how the family is made up, but how people outside that family view it.  I agree with her, and the older I get, the stronger that belief is in me.  Family is family – no matter if it’s a single parent, two moms, two dads, grandparents raising a child, any combination of a possible couple adopting a child.  The time, love, dedication, and support is still there and that’s what matters.  And that’s also what brings me to my next point:

I was nominated for another award by the much too kind kateginnivan, and this truly touched my heart.  I don’t think I could say it any better than this quote from her post about her nomination:

“I think we can all acknowledge that, yes, the WordPress family is a motley crew, but it’s certainly one I’m proud to belong to.”

Maybe that is why I immediately felt so at ease to post up my thoughts, my opinions on topics that aren’t always so pretty, the secrets of my creative brain that I had been so skeptical to share in the past.  I am used to a “non-traditional” family, if you will, so the WordPress community felt comfortable and inviting to me.  I am constantly amazed at the beautiful/funny/random/weird posts I am provided with each day and I am overly joyed by the feedback I receive from others.  I have never once felt negativity from anyone I’ve encountered here, even when those encounters were to discuss differing opinions or to provide criticism.  It is truly a beautiful thing that happens on this platform daily.

But anyway…on to the requirements:

  1. I will be adding the above badge to my footer widgets with my other awards that I am still so gracious for.
  2. I have linked back to the person who nominated me ^^
  3. Now I will nominate up to 10 others and let them know!

Sumeshnee – just another day in the life of Mesh

The Grief Diaries

Stacey – The Story of a Unique Family

Factory Maid

Lucky Wreck

Ramblings of a Teenager

Thank you all for sharing your personal stories and bits of encouragement through your posts!

So what is family?  What does that mean?  Blood relatives, close friends, even fellow bloggers that are worlds away and may never meet in person – if you feel welcome and warm and able to be yourself, that is family.

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  1. I love this. “Different” is only a matter of perspective. Thank you for sharing your story and nominating me (:

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  2. I love this x2. I think you’re so right in saying that different is not about the actual components as it is about mindset and perspective. I definitely do think that people who were raised in “traditional” families have a tendency to assume that those who weren’t raised like themselves were somehow shafted into having less of a childhood. And while that may be true in some cases, you can’t put a generalization onto a whole group of people. I’m really glad you found the courage to speak up about it and mention your own experiences.

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  3. Absolutely loved reading this post. I agree with you entirely. My baby boy is due around the end of Sept and begining of Oct 2013. His dad and I are from very different cultural backgrounds and even though we aren’t a traditional family – he will grow up learning about two different cultures and be loved greately, cared for and cherished like every child should be.

    Thank you so much for the nomination (^^,

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    • The way I think about it is your son, as I did, will have such a broader view of everything in the world because of being raised “non-traditionally.” That’s one on the best things that can be given to a child, in my opinion. It has definitely affected the way I think and do things, and in such a positive way. Congrats on becoming a mom!

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  4. […] I got in this morning, made my rooibos tea and started checking on what was happening in the world of my fellow bloggers. Between it all, a notification popped up telling me that I was nominated for the WordPress Family Award. As a virgin to the Blogger Awards I’m still reeling in the thrill of it. I was nominated by Kay, another talent blogger who found me along her way and we started reading and engaging in each others blogs. I think the inspiration of my son (who I can’t wait to meet) and everyone helping me through this pregnancy (even the ones who get on my nerves) are the reason behind this nomination. Being a part of the Word Press family just proves my theory that Family does not only lie with those who share your blood line. I’ve built many friendships over the years with fellow bloggers and other cyber junkies – even though we don’t see each other, the bond is still strong between us. Thank you for the nomination Kay. […]

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  5. […] What Is Family? (imthatkay.wordpress.com) […]

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  6. Thank you SO much. This means a lot to me.
    How do I add the widget to my footer? Help, I am blog-stupid!

    Like

  7. Excellent take on family as well as an excellent segue into blog awards!

    This is the kind of conversation I think more people will/should be having.
    Q: What kind of family is better: traditional or non-traditional?
    A: A good family!
    Just my opinion and my own jumping on the bandwagon.

    Like

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