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What It Means To Be A Family.

Updated on June 20, 2017
Juliet Stewart profile image

Juliet Austin- Is a retired Rehabilitation Counselor, her writing attempts to address issues most Families experience.

What Comprises A Family.

A Traditional Family:

A Family is one that comprises the unit we are born into, or the one we choose to be a part of. It is the invisible cord that connects us and sometimes forces us to stay connected, for want of caring, and love. The strength of each Family depends on the Matriarch or Patriarch, ability to pull each individual into the fold or circle, any discord within the Family unit should be handled as a Family unit as each individual's action affects the fluidity of the continuum, and the part each individual plays in the Family Unit.

When we speak of Family, We tend to think of the accepted norm, the Mother, Father, and Children that result from their Union. Next, we add grandparents, Aunt's Uncles, Cousins (x) times removed, Grand Aunts/Uncles, We even venture further by adding Great Grand Parents, and so on. In other words, it's the Family we are born into.

Non-Traditional Family:

A non-Traditional Family comprises the same or similar makeup as does a Traditional Family, however, the major difference is, that we are normally not born into that Family. It's a Family created out of want. In the case of Adoption, Stepparent household, and even now has changed to include, the Gay and Lesbian Population, in which the role of Parents is not defined by gender per se, but out of the need to take on a gender-specific role.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 2010. "Of the 88.8 million children of householders, 93 percent were biological children. There were approximately twice as many stepchildren (4.2 million) as adopted children (2.1 million)".

As expected, the Non-Traditional family household is on the rise, as divorce, the fact that more people are waiting a lot longer prior to tying the knot, or choosing not to get Married but opting to have Children anyway. A one Parent home is becoming an acceptable norm within our current Society. According to Nigel Maynard, "The number of female-headed households with no husband present rose slightly to 14 million. So did the number of male householders with no wife present, although this represents a smaller group at just 5.2 million. Finally, non-family households totaled 37 million. "The Rise Of Non-Traditional Households", according to U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.


But what is the role of our Family nucleus

(The use of the term Nucleus and Unit will be used interchangeably throughout this article to identify, Non-Traditional/ Traditional Family).

In any Family, It is expected, that: Unconditional love, protection, understanding, and sometimes Financial support, will be forthcoming, right?

Unconditional Love- Can be defined as a feeling of closeness, warmth, compassion, and the general knowledge that no matter what happens you will always have emotional support. Just because you care. It is the kind of love that does not, even when a crime is committed, diminish that love. Love although long suffering at times, does not mean you will or should uphold with illegal activities. However, emotional support can be a source of strength for the individual or individuals.

According to U.S.A. Census Bureau. How many Children resided in Non Traditional Homes?

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You Were Supposed To Protect Me

"Should Parents be Given a License Prior to Having Children". With age comes wisdom. Whoever came up with that Title is spot on. As with any license, People who are qualified, will and can fail any test, while the unqualified sometimes have the ability to memorize and mimic actions necessary to ensure that they make it. My Children tell me I'm a great Mom, however, if anyone had told me Years ago that I needed to take a test prior to becoming a Parent, I would have failed miserably. Some experiences cannot be taught, and must absolutely be learned.

Protection, as it concerns a Family unit implies that as Parents, the protection physically, Mentally, or Emotionally, is guaranteed, realizing, of course, that outside influences may determine if Parents can live up to that daunting a task. It appears that; that is not the case, often times we see reports of abuse by one or more Parent, specifically targeted at one or more Child/Children. In some cases, all the Children are at risk.

As adult's we understand that sometimes "bad things can happen to good People", through no fault of the Family unit. A Child, however, cannot conceive of a Parent or Parents, not being or possessing superhuman strength.

Child abuse cases seem to be more prevalent in the News and on Social Media sites. For some Parents, the unwritten ethical guarantee that came with the badge they were given, after the birth of their Child/ Children; appears to be tarnished. No longer does it guarantee safety and protection it no longer seems to be passing muster.


How to help stem or lessen Sibling Rivalry

Understanding your Child/Children should go hand in hand with unconditional love and protection. When love is tempered with protection, then ultimately, there is a sense of Family, of fitting in. Understanding comes from knowing your Child/Children, their likes, dislikes, and because they are individuals, it is necessary to learn the personality of each that is the easy part requiring just a few minutes of your time and real one-on-one attention.

Sibling Rivalry as defined by Webster's Dictionary is competition between siblings especially for the attention, affection, and approval of their parents. A very straight forward definition to a very complex set of behaviors.

What you do for One Do be Prepared to Also Do For The Others

To Make A Child Happy: Love and Attention are sometimes enough. Spending quality time with each Child individually is essential. The difficult part is getting them to trust you enough to be open about their feelings, this will develop over time as you teach them to speak freely, to ask questions and wait for a response.

If there are multiple Children in the Family unit, it's often times difficult to have a one-hour long discussion or an hour long one on one time with Children. Especially if both Parents work outside the home. In cases where this may be an issue, dinnertime is a great way to ensure you give individual attention. Outside activities may at times preclude us from a Daily sit down together, what I find worked for the busy Parents and Children is this developing a schedule that indicates when and what activities each Child has, and scheduling Dinner to meet the Family needs. My Ex-Husband, although he couldn't cook, when my Schedule called for me to be at work late or School conflicted he would purchase the meal, which wasn't very often, once or twice per Month, until I retired. We worked around a difficult Schedule. Dining together also teaches Social skills, table etiquette and allowed us a glimpse into our Children's Lives.

Raising five Children is a difficult task, raising them while Working a full-time Job and attending School full time, daunting. My secret to ensuring communication involved a simple old fashioned egg timer. Each Child had until the sand filtered to the bottom to tell about their Day. While the Child who had the floor, so to speak was regaling us with the highlight of their Day, no one else was allowed to speak. We encouraged questions and laughter if appropriate. It worked for us.

At least Once a Month my Husband and I would trade off taking our Daughters or Sons on Dates. Each Child was given the opportunity to choose something fun or School related. Since we were also on a budget, It was important that the event is free or of minimal cost, most activities were predetermined to allow for budgeting and conflicts as it relates to our schedule.

Time Management

When raising Children It's important to make sure your Children come first. Their needs are the most important thing a Parent should be concerned about. Being tired, or having a long Day at Work is really not an excuse. Children once you have them, becomes your responsibility. Which means from the time you get home until the time you tuck them in read them bedtime stories your attention should be focused on them. that falls to the Woman, even if we work outside the home, some Men hold tightly to their old fashioned values. Shared responsibility is never equitable, as Women and Mothers, we are not allowed the same or similar privilege of coming home and grabbing a drink, and sitting in front of the television. Supper had to be made, homework checked, laundry is done, sick Children at times needed to be cared for. Being tired or feeling the strain of Parenting is never an option, we must work outside and inside the home, and still maintain that feminine allure.

Setting Bedtime Schedules and maintaining it allows you the Parent to unwind, and spend time taking care of you. Children also tend to do better in School or in Social activities when they are allowed regenerative/ restorative sleep


Do's And Dont's, Of Parenting.

While you are influencing little minds and leaving your imprint on their Self-Worth, it's important to try never to use the word "but". Or if only.

Example:

a. "You did a wonderful Job Cleaning up your toy's, but you missed one".

b. "You did a Wonderful job if only I could get you to do it every Night".

c. " Why can't you be more like."

On one hand you just elevated your Child in his/her minds to the highest pinnacle of praise, a Child of that age can receive, only to shatter it again, now instead of going to bed with the knowledge that they are a unique part of your life and well loved, as well as being appreciated. You forced them to wonder if they will be replaced in the Family unit. Especially if a Younger sibling is also in residence.

If an older sibling is part of that unit, then it becomes a question of does Mom, or Dad love my sibling more, we as parents unknowingly at times start the thread that becomes in later Years sibling rivalry. A family is a unique blend of Personalities, each one having varied Interest, ability, and skills, not only Socially, but as it pertains to Employment and Employment values.

What It Means To Be A Family: Raising Girls.

I don't claim to have all the answers, however, I raised my Daughter the way I would have liked to be raised. I would have liked to have a Mother that cared enough to teach me about the changes my body would go through, about good touches and bad touches, one that cared enough to tell me that the "curse" or menstrual cycle a young Woman experience is normal.

I was perhaps ten Years old when I first recognized that Women had menstrual cycles, I didn't know then what it was called or what that meant as it relates to a female and the Harmonal changes. As I peeped through the bathroom keyhole my Mother explained to my Sister what and how to properly apply and use a sanitary napkin. I didn't know what it was or why I thought maybe my sister was ill.

I was eleven Years old when I experienced my Menstrual Cycle, and understanding dawned. I informed my Mother and that evening I waited in anticipation of the Mother Daughter talk, instead as she came home from working she threw a book across the room at me hitting me in the face that book was "On Becoming a Woman". As she walked away she said" since you are so intelligent" you read this and figure it out". So I did, I read that book and indeed I figured out what Howard Shylock never could as I matured. We are so much more than our part's.

As I raised my Daughter I knew I needed to make her experience not one of mystery or one shrouded in secret or shame but one that defined what is a naturally occurring cycle of the Female body. I tried and hopefully was successful in helping her to understand that Women at different ages and stage in their lives will have a menstrual cycle.

A Special Day For You Daughter
My Children never used what is commonly thought of as baby talk when speaking to them I used full sentences, and described items using the popular descriptive terminology defining adult speech. My Daughter knew the correct terminology to identify her body. She had a "vagina, not a "wee wee" or hoohoo" or whatever cute words Parents use out of embarrassment based on old stereotypes. Her first wellness check was met with laughter and incredulity by the Nurse who conducted the hearing, and speech test when asked to give the name of picture shown my Daughter said Automobile when shown a picture of a car, when asked about her body she clearly labelled each part with what is considered adult language.

Raising Young Men

What It Means To Be A Family: Raising Young Men.

There are naturally occurring changes to the Male body. What Parent's Male or Female do not really know or can define at times. The problem with explaining to Young Men the changes that their bodies will experience is one based on fairy tale. Young Men need to have some issues discussed by and with a Doctor qualified to discuss medically necessary topics. Those topics that perhaps are not taught in Health classes.

These lessons I impart because this was my Middle Son's experience. I laughed when I received the call from the Doctor, however, it was one of happiness that he was okay. Then I laughed at my ignorance because of my Religious teachings I instructed my Son's and my Daughter to wait until after marriage to engage in sex, I never discussed masturbation as to me it was normal and natural I assumed he would know, never assume. Instead teach and encourage. I almost ruined my Child's chances of having Children.

Vaso Constriction of Blood Vessels (Blue Balls)

I had no idea blue balls was a real occurrence. Most Women have been subject to the "come on baby if you don't I'll get blue balls" approach to what is normal and natural, the act of love making or sex. This is actually true, we need Doctors or qualified Health professionals in the School system to teach what we as parents cannot. No the gym teacher, or coach is not a qualifying Healthcare provider.

Masturbation

Say it three times out loud and it becomes less embarrassing.
The implication of vasoconstriction is a very serious issue. Does it mean that Young Men should subject onto young Women unwanted sexual attention? No, there is the alternative of Masturbation, what masturbation does is it helps to release the build up of pressure or blood flow from the penis to the testicles, ballsac or balls as identified by a majority of the population.

We teach and push ignorance by denying what is fact, sex, masturbation is normal, we make our Children feel guilty for engaging in these activities when it is medically proven to be helpful in ensuring that our Young Men don't lose a testicle or both.

Medical Implications
The Republican good ole Boy party would like the rest of Society to believe they do not engage in sex, or masturbating. With the constriction of vaso or vascular blood vessels the nerves start to twist, due to the inability of the blood's pressure to be released. Often times excruciating pain is the result leading to a need for surgery to untangle nerves. If caught early enough the result will ensure that the Young Man will be able to produce sperm. If not then looking forward to Grandchildren, let's just say there won't be any.

Masturbate your way to good health of course in the privacy of your home and room. My advice to Parent's give your Child or Children privacy when they are going through puberty. It's necessary and always knock. Just because they are Children does not mean they don't need privacy to engage in what is normal and natural, masturbation.

Monetary Help

What kind and who should be supported.

Parents are relied on to provide help financially, stating the obvious of course from Birth through to Early Teens. It's not uncommon here in the United States and other Countries to expect a Teenager to start earning and paying into Social Security at an early age. The onus is on the Parent to develop well-adjusted Children, to introduce them to Work at an early age.

How Early is too Early?

I'm so glad someone asked. Okay so no one asked, but I'm assuming someone has that particular question. To which, I'd honestly answer, as soon as they are able to walk, hold a dust rag or a broom. I'm not implying by any means that we should hire out the little munchkins for work at the tender age of two Years, (which is normally when hand eye coordination is developing). No, what I'm implying is this. Children should and can help to keep their own little area tidy.

It's called Chores, there is no way we should expect a Child of such tender Years to be able to maintain his or her area as well as an Adult, however, by teaching them to at least put away toy's prior to bedtime, and giving little praises for the effort. Leads to a developed sense of Self Worth. Do by all means pay them for this achievement.

No way should a Parent indulge a Child with expensive gifts, that won't last longer than a couple of Months, Everyone knows that is the role of Grandparents. Children learn to place value on things because of the Media, be it Television or Radio. Stores cater to our Youngest consumers and appeal to their sense of fitting in. In School or with Peer group. I dodged the proverbial bullet there, I was unable financially to cater to my Children's wants, and by the time I was able to cater, I had matured enough to understand that buying their Love and helping them fall victim to Peer Pressure, was not going to happen.

When my Children were old enough to start Work, I encouraged them to. I drove them to and from, work. I encouraged them to save a portion of their income, and also to spend a portion on whatever they wanted. Needless to say, I don't want to brag, but my Children are the smartest Children in the World. What I found was, if they were the ones earning an income, purchasing that expensive sneakers, Video Games, whatever, didn't seem as important or as necessary. I watched as they spent responsibly, purchasing things they instead needed for the various after School activities they were involved in, or on Birthday, Christmas, or Valentine's Day Gifts for each other. That's not to say as they Matured into Adulthood they didn't spend on a Want now and then. They did, but it had to be something that lasted more than a couple of Months.

I Believe they also come to realize that they could achieve if they worked hard. I would love to say they didn't need my Financial help at some point throughout their growing Years. They did, but what Parent would mind helping, when the help is asked out of Necessity, and only occasionally.

Every Family falls victim to hard times, and help is necessary, but it's important to teach self-reliance. The Difference between want and need.

"Being Black In America"

Raising Well Rounded Children While Being Black In America. Is a difficult and daunting task at times. What I'd like to tell you my Children and hopefully you will to your Children. Always give the benefit of the doubt to those your intuition tells you to. It really is a form of self preservation. Always look at Nature not as a nuisance but use it instead to learn about the behavior of Animals and plants, there is a great deal that Nature can teach.

If at any time you feel threatened or violated always report it to the proper authority. For information on what each department covers, the Police department is chocked full of information. They may not have absolute knowledge regarding all Security services, however, they can point you in the right direction. It may take a great many phone calls but it does leave a trail and eventually you will connect to the right agency.

Most importantly always be honest and respectful, give when you can it doesn't have to be a lot if you cannot afford it. But give from the heart. And remember a smile is also a gift and that, is free.

Even the best Parent in the World will make mistakes, I've made my share. Learning to identify mistakes and apologizing for them as they occur. An apology increases your chance of having a lasting, and loving relationship with your Children, it teaches them how to apologize, and to accept their humanness. As long as we live and even after the Children have moved on to create their own Family Unit, we will learn new ways to disappoint them. It's okay, "to err is human to forgive is kind", author unknown, however it is absolute truth. Some People are not deserving of that especially if an apology is not a request after they inflict emotional, mental or physical harm. Often times People who tend to be forgiving are taken for granted, the perpetrator(s) take it as a given that will always happen, unfortunately it is not always the case nor do we often times have the ability to excuse the behavior.
Often times the Legal System takes that out of our hands. In theory the act of individually forgiving may be accepted, however it does not mean the individual will or should remain in your Life. Sometimes it is necessary for self preservation to cut People from your lives, even if they are Family. Hold close to those Family members who genuinely love you for you. It isn't about the giving of gifts it's about the Person or People who are willing to tell you honestly without any ill will when you are right and also when you are wrong. Those are the People who love you.

Raising Well rounded Children: What About Love

Love should never hurt, love does not ridicule, nor does it cause harm. Love apologizes and although not perfect Love is honest and has Character. If at any time love doesn't make you happy, by all means leave. As they say " There are plenty of Fish's in the sea" basically if one relationship fails there are others. Never give up thinking or believing there are good People still out there, People defining Character, and don't be afraid to love someone of a different Nationality, race color or Religion love see's the goodness and is not so structured that it isn't forgiving unless the loving causes Mental. emotional and physical pain. It is okay to walk away from anything that does not reflect or define you as a Person. "Live, love, and laugh often meaning don't sweat the small stuff.

Take time to relax and enjoy whatever you find enjoyable. The rest time and experience will teach. For me it's Nature. Chin up darlings Mother is right where she want's to be doing exactly as she want's to do. I'm redefining who I am and going back to my roots. I'm a Country Girl at heart and in Nature this climate is where I want to be.


Getting to Know Your Children

What It Means To Be A Family

"The Eyes are the window to the soul". Parents become attuned to the lies and misdeeds done by Children if they pay enough attention watching the eyes.

Ex. My Eldest would fidget, lips slightly apart and he would always follow up a question with "what"? Followed by a "no Mom", however, it's these words with a combination of almost erratic movement of the eyes that told me when he was not being truthful.

My middle Son would laugh nervously,shoulders moving while he gave a charming little laugh. Eyes down and to the left then a almost imperceptible glance to the right. If I persisted in asking he would become defensive, and stop talking. Lawyer up as most black People charged with a crime are apt to do if they are innocent.

Aaah but my Daughter she was more difficult, however it was not impossible she is a tricky one. When at her Fathers knees she learned to play chess, checkers, and with me "go fish" and other Family board games. We were economically disadvantaged, hours of Family board games kept them occupied. She always cheated. My Daughter lies and cheats at cards her Fathers doing of course to the total delight of the Family as we would protest her obvious theft. But I digress, she often smiles with her eyes or a full out laugh head thrown back in pleasure when those little white lies were told.

My Children are of sterling Character, they do not possess the knowledge to perpetrate a major criminal undertaking. They don't know how to lie not even in text messages. My Middle Son doesn't engage for fear of giving himself away. The Eldest and youngest will do their best. But a Mother knows it's that internal gut wrenching feeling that tells us when something isn't quite right even if it's a minor fender bender.


Reference

"The Rise Of Non Traditional Households, according to U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey". Nigel Maynard.

Miriam Websters Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/sibling%20rivalry

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    • profile image

      Courtney 2 years ago

      well thought out and articulated. I couldn't have done a better job. Keep up the good work

    • Juliet Stewart profile image
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      Juliet Stewart-Austin 2 years ago from San Antonio, TX.

      Thank you Courtney, I will endeavor to strive for well written Articles that touches on serious issues. Your comment is appreciated.

    • profile image

      Manoj 2 years ago

      This arltice keeps it real, no doubt.

    • Juliet Stewart profile image
      Author

      Juliet Stewart-Austin 6 months ago from San Antonio, TX.

      Thank you Manoj.

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