Saturday, July 3, 2010

Are We a Family?

In today's society, the definition of family is changing. There are families with divorced parents, single parents, families that have parents of the same sex, and many more. But what makes a family a family? In this course we defined family as a part of a kinship system or patterns of a relationship that defines family forms. This definition is very broad because the idea of a family is not concrete. For example, an adopted child might not consider his/her birth mother "family," even though they are biologically related. Families are built from relationships both biologically and emotionally. A family can start with a marriage, or with a birth of a child. Even without children, by our definition married couples are considered family.
Marriage plays a key role in the traditional idea of family. In many societies, families begin with a marriage. Marriages act as an official statement of commitment and responsibility towards one another. However, what about families that are unable to obtain a marriage license? Gay marriage is a highly debated topic, even though it is legal in some states. There are many families that are unable to marry and make that commitment to one another. Although there are alternatives for Gay couples like civil unions and domestic partnership, there is a stigma attached with marriage. The idea of marriage is meant to bring security to the family. In American society we take marriage vows very seriously, and try to uphold the promises that were made. Marriage is a key element to family in America, and it helps to establish a stronger bond.
Although marriage is not necessary to have a family is tends to make the family seem official. This idea is reflected in step-families. For example, two people with children from previous marriages decide to get married, and new sets of relationships are formed. There are now step brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. But what happens if the parents divorce? The children are no longer related, but are they still family? I don't have an answer to this question, but if anyone else would like to comment and tell me what they think, I would really like to discuss what their "family" situation is in this situation.

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