Monday, August 5, 2013

Family (Part 1 - General Case)


This is a family. The mother is part of the family, the father is part of the family, and the children are part of the family. (The dog may be too, depending on who you ask.) All of these people will (hopefully) always be a part of this family, even though they will probably not always live together. When the children reach a certain age, they will be expected to go out into the world, find people they like, and make new families of their own.  They’ll still be part of this family, but in addition they will have families that they chose for themselves. I will call the original family the ‘parental family’. I will call the children’s new families their ‘chosen families’. 

Society thinks that that a chosen family looks like this:
Chosen Family
If you’re hip to the new social reasonableness, you may think that a chosen family can look like this:

Two women and their child being a family
 …or this:
Two men and their child being a family
 But I think a whole lot of other things can be families as well. I think that any group of people that joins together with love for the purpose of taking care of each other on a long-term basis can be a chosen family.

Family (with or without child[ren])
 I even think that this is a family, because even though this person isn’t living with other people, they’ve formed a self-sufficient unit that they’re happy with, and which is independent of their parental family:
 These groups are all different, but they all serve a similar purpose, and they can all be chosen families. Chosen families are like food. Chinese food is very different from Mexican food, which is very different from other food, but they all serve the basic function of making you not starve.

 Different people like to eat different kinds of foods...

 … and different people like to have different kinds of families. Some people want kids. Some people want to live with a woman, or with a man, or with someone who’s kinda in between, or neither, or several of those. None of these options make the resulting group any more or less of a family, just like different ingredients don’t make a food item any more or less of a food.

But sometimes food goes bad.
 Sometimes this can be fixed...

 …but sometimes it cannot. When that happens, most of us stop considering the food to be food anymore, and almost all of us think you should get rid of it. The same is true of families. I’m being careful to say that a group of people can be a family, but aren’t automatically so, because not all people can group together well, and not all groups that start out well continue well. A family is a loving, caring group, not just a bunch of people under a roof. This is an example of a group of people which is not a family:

Group of people =/= family
This is also not a family:

“Wait a minute, that’s the same graphic you said was a family!” Yes. The difference is, in this picture the person is living alone because they haven’t found somebody to love and live with yet. They do not want to live alone. This person can’t be their own family by themself. The other one could.

So. A parental family is the family one grows up in. One then goes out into the world, finds one or more people they love and want to live with, and makes a new, chosen family with them. In the next post I'll tell you about my families.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post and I love this analogy (and how it's developed, like the parallel with what can happen with badthings - that's a really good way of capturing the concepts) and I love the drawings. This has given me new thoughts and understandings and feelings of chosen family, also, while also making me smile with great phrasing.

    I wanted to blog-like it, but couldn't find such a button, so I'm commenting instead.

    Anyway, it's awesome and thank you!