Friday, November 19, 2010

Family

In honor of Thanksgiving, this is the fourth in my This I Believe series.

*****

I saw a story in the paper today (front page, hard to miss) about how Americans are changing their perception of what constitutes a family. I kind of wish that I had it in front of me right now so I could rattle off some statistics from this poll, but truthfully, I don’t need it. I know the gist of what it said: Americans are shifting their thinking away from the traditional nuclear family to a broader sense of the term that encompasses more nebulous boundaries and a variety of configurations.

I see this in my own family, too, though I would never have thought of such a possibility when I was younger. And I’m not writing here to label my belief of what is “right” and “wrong” about what the make-up of a family should look like, especially given that one definite thing I’ve learned in the last decade is that there is no one right way. I can respect that, and often find myself wanting my way to be just like someone else’s way.

I believe that when Abby is in her twenties, the idea of “family” will be radically different from what it is even now. That’s okay; we change. But what I believe in most wholeheartedly is that “family” will always revolve around love, acceptance, and memories. To me that is what “family” has always been and what it continues to be, regardless of who makes up the dynamics of the “family.”

I also believe that Abby will grow up with a definite understanding that her family is vitally important to her life, the foundation upon which she will stand as she both succeeds and fails. Family will not desert her and will be the first to cheer for all of her accomplishments.

It will be interesting to see our family in ten or twenty years. Will it be more reserved like my side or boisterous like Ben’s? At what point will our family be complete?

I believe that the day Abby was born, my perception of family changed. It is so delightful to be our own little subunit of two greater families. And this little family of three chooses to abide by that familial triune: love, acceptance, and memories.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Amy, I like it. Chris and I saw the study yesterday and we were interested that umarried opposite sex adults living together without children were considered to be a family by fewer people than same sex adults living together without children. (O.K., I think the difference was 1 or 2 percentage points, but still.) Chris and I think of ourselves as a family of two (and we definitely build on love, acceptance and memories, just like you mention), but I'm not sure as a kid that I would have thought of two adults without kids as a family. Interesting. Thanks for writing about this.