On Tuesday, August 28th we did an in-class assignment on our personal beliefs, regarding the definition of family. I had not personally evaluated my philosophy on family prior to this class period, so my mind started rolling immediately. Why was it that I considered two heterosexual males caring for their children together more of a family than an unmarried couple without kids? After some reflection, I do believe I have found the answer as to how I would define the term “Family”. Definition I believe family can be defined as a group of people sharing common bloodlines.
If there is a lack of blood relation, they must obtain a legal or binding agreement. This agreement can come in the form of a marriage license, adoption record, or agreement for foster-parenting. In order for a married couple to be a family unit, they must also have a child. Membership I am going to explain the basics of membership to the best of my ability, using the maternal side of my family, to help others visualize my explanation. It should be noted beforehand that I have a mother, father, and two younger sisters who I consider to be family, even though my father and sisters aren’t mentioned in the section below.
According to my definition, my maternal family is made up of my mother, a grandmother and grandfather, one great grandmother on my grandmother’s side, one aunt, and one uncle. The aunt being my mother’s sister; and the uncle being my mother’s brother. In addition to this, I have five cousins, all blood-related. Even though there obviously needs to be another role in this family unit to create cousins, it does not fall under my biological definition. My aunt’s husband and my uncle’s wife would fall under this next section of criteria.
For me to consider these people family, they would at least need to be married to a biological family member of mine. In the situation that they would be unmarried, I would consider them family only if they had a child with a member of my family, whereas we are indirectly family members. If my mother’s sister was simply dating someone, and they did not have a child together, I would not consider the man a member of my family. Back to the concept of legal agreements, marriage is not the only agreement to be considered. There is also the possibility of adoption.
If my aunt or uncle adopted a child, I would still consider them a member of my family, a cousin. With the idea of adoption comes the possibility that a family member could be given up. If my uncle gave up a biological child of his for adoption, I would no longer be able to consider this child a family member. The next form of membership would be through foster-parenting. If a member of my family was a foster parent to a child or group of children, the children would be a member of their family as well as a member of mine for the time they were responsible for the child. Analysis
In this scenario, they are giving up their rights to this child through a legal process, therefore giving up my rights as well. In the scenario of adoption, they are making a legal and personal commitment to care for a child, making that child a commitment of mine too. When it comes to foster parenting, I think simply in terms of my personal beliefs on the treatment of children. A foster parent is given the responsibility of caring for a child for a period of time. Whether this time lie in between other foster homes, or before adoption, every child deserves the stability of a family.
As you can probably infer from the previous paragraph, I did notice a common theme with my beliefs on family: children. I have a hard time viewing a couple, being it man-man, man-woman, or woman-woman, as a family, simply on their own. I believe that they need to be tied to each other through a child as well. In the situation where a child is present, both parents have a family-based commitment to one another due to this child. Later on, if they divorce, they still have family ties as they cannot just abandon their commitment to each other altogether. This is where a step-family has room to develop, also.
In the occurrence of a step-family, the entire family of the person marrying in will be a family of legal agreement to the person being married and their children. Family Responsibilities I believe that the titles “family” and “friends” are also differentiated by the responsibilities associated with both terms. Friends come and go through a person’s lifetime due to different developmental stages, and other circumstances. With this said, a variety of strong emotions can often be experienced from friend to friend. However, I believe the love you extend for members of your family should be more or less along the lines of nconditional. By associating yourself with a family, you have the responsibility of caring for each other, no matter the convenience or circumstance. You also have the responsibility to create and celebrate family traditions, which will eventually be passed on to future generations. I hold strong belief that another part of family responsibility is the broadening of family, accomplished by marrying and beginning a family of your own. This family is to be a continuation of the family you were brought into. All of the above responsibilities correlate directly to the effectiveness of family functioning.
If a member doesn’t assume the responsibility expected of them, they disrupt the balance of family, leaving it to function poorly. This is true unless, of course, the remainder of the family adapts to the way the deviating member would like to assume their responsibility. If the family can maintain an equilibrium, this will lead to most ideal functioning. Reflection I have no doubt that my personal family philosophy was influenced by my maternal family structure. We have strong distinctions as to who we consider family and who we consider friends. As a very close knit group, we gather often for holidays, community functions, etc.
All of us also strive to abide by our assumed family responsibilities. Even in the situation where someone does not, the rest of the family falls into place quickly to compensate for the lack of balance, until we can return to our normal functioning state. Family is such an important aspect of my life. I hope that my definition and analysis has given you insight into the many aspects of my personal family philosophy. This philosophy, which as a child development major, is certainly subject to adaptation and change as the rest of my philosophies are sculpted throughout my career.