Many of us at one time or another have asked ourselves the question, what is family? Does it simply mean what we do together? Is it a set of relatives who live together? Or is it more complex than that? More importantly, what is it worth to me to be part of a family? What would I pay to have it?
To answer these questions, we must take into consideration what family is and how we use it to define ourselves. It is my belief that the best definition of family is found in a classic work by Carol Rogers: She defined it as a group of people living under the same moral and social obligations. Her book defined family as a human institution founded on the common bonds of love, responsibility, and faith. Family is the most important institution in the modern world and is what allows all of us to grow and learn and enjoy each other’s company.
The above descriptions of what is family are self explanatory. However, what is more intriguing to many people is the idea that we can develop and strengthen family ties in ways that promote meaningful human relationships. In particular, I believe that family development entails allowing the love and commitment of family members to become the basis for our entire family life experience. In order to do this we must first be willing to define family.
For most of us, when we speak of family, we envision having a large family living in a large house with many different types of members. We often speak of the bond between mom and dad and their family members. We hear about grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We may speak of siblings and cousins. This is essentially what we have been taught is family; however, the truth is that we are all part of more than our families.
The fact is that we are all related to one another in more ways than we realize. As children we learned who our family members were, where they lived, what their jobs were, how they made money, and who their friends were. We learned all of this free-choice learning together. We built strong relationships with each person in our family, and we had to learn to put differences aside in order to work together as a family. This was and still remains a powerful way of learning and growing as individuals.
However, our understanding of what is a family has changed. Many of us grew up with the concept of the nuclear family; a mother, father, and their children. While these are still the norm for many families, there are also those families that have adopted a “no kids” policy. While it is true that a nuclear family has the biological children of the spouse and are related by blood, this does not mean that the children are necessarily raised by the parents.
Many people are beginning to understand that traditional family structures don’t necessarily offer the best solution when what is family learning together is important. These families include same-sex families, which face a unique set of problems that are similar to those of traditional families. These families seek support groups that include same-sex families, single parents, and gay families.
In conclusion, what is family learning? It’s important to understand how your family has developed over the years. Children do best when they are involved in meaningful activities and have access to parents who love them and care about them. It is also important to understand the role you played in the development of your family. When you take the time to learn what is family learning, you will discover that you have more positive and fulfilling experiences than if you had remained a passive observer.