When I grew up a “family” was a mom and dad with one or more kids, a fence, at least one dog, a garage full of bikes and mostly we were all walking distance to the school.
We were mostly all white, had rotary phones in the kitchen and your dad was in the bowling league on Thursday nights. I suspect the vast majority owned savings bonds. I didn’t know a single person with a passport.
I’m not saying other combinations of people didn’t exist– they did. My dad taught school with a science teacher who lived alone with her snakes and never went out and my mom worked with two guys who held hands when they thought nobody was looking. I don’t remember hating them or hurting them in any way….But we certainly didn’t call “them” a family.
In the world we conciously created for my daughter to grow up in a family is a family simply by how the people in it chose to define it. As she grew up she was introduced to as many combinations of family as we could find. This was of utmost importance to both her mom and me.
The families she knows are made up of the people I know– my friends, family, neighbors, clients, teachers and the local barista. I can’t think of one that looks like my original family definition. They are gay, straight, black, white, brown, every nationality and flavor I can find. They are functional, dysfunctional, addicted and clean. They work, and don’t work, depending.
I often think about how she has never known anything different.
The only underlying definition of family she knows of is love.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet” ~ William Shakespeare
Take an hour and check out a incredible collection of essays “A family by any other name”. Even if you already hold the broad view, you’ll still find your heart warmed by how love pulls people together.