The Meaning of Family by Robin Trimingham
My favorite line regarding family comes from the holiday movie Home Alone, when Old Man Marley looks at Kevin and says “How you feel about your family is a complicated thing”, because it is sums up in ten words just about every conversation that I have ever had about family, heard about someone else’s family, or read about changes to the traditional definition of a family unit.
I somehow find it strange that in this age of technology where people can live just about anywhere and work just about anywhere that there is reliable internet access, that we are still clinging to the antiquated vestiges of a restrictive social hierarchy that no longer works for many of us.
I accept that readers who follow religious guidelines which preach “traditional family values” will find this to be an uncomfortable, objectionable, and even unacceptable subject. I equally accept that those with strong political views would look to their government to define what constitutes a “family unit”.
That’s all well and good for everyone who finds their family within these long-established traditional guidelines. My question however is – is it possible that we are all being a bit short sighted?
How, for example, do you explain to a child raised by two mommies that some people will look at them with disgust as if they have done something wrong? How do you tell a child being raised by a father other than their birth father that they aren’t entitled to healthcare because they have not been adopted? Is it really ok to say that two people who have made a lifelong vow to love and protect each other that they are somehow unworthy of acceptance into your “traditional” family unit because they happen to be the same sex? These are tough questions that need to be considered from all perspectives, not just the ones that we are familiar with, or comfortable with.
Maybe it’s time that more of us were willing to address the bigger problems in society and leave people to form their own family units in peace. Lying is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Discriminating against someone because of the color of their skin, religious beliefs, or country of origin is wrong. Shooting children in a schoolyard is wrong. And, trying to dictate how another person can live or form a family is also wrong.
To those who do not agree, I have one final question - Is anyone of us so much more special than the rest that we are fit to judge our fellow man without mercy because they dared to love and care for another person? I know I’m not.
By Robin Trimingham