Is the unit of a family still relevant for us in the 21 Century?
What does the word family conjure up for you? Is it really about life and love? Or more like adults exercising their lifelong need for power which they never obtained in their worklife?
I sense a more than a little bitterness in the final sentence of that two-sentence subtitle...but I won't "go there," as it is said in modern terminology.
What is a family unit? The modern interpretation is mother, father and child or children, at least in many of our Western Societies. This is especially so, it seems, in Anglo-Saxon type families. Just two layers:
parents and children living in the one home.
In many other cultures a family can, and often does, comprise four generations:mother, father, children, grandchildren and even grandparents, living in the same home. All constituting what they regard as 'one family.'
Then the extended families come into it. Aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces by blood (kin) or by marriage.
So families are with us now. They probably have been since the Neolithic Man hunted Mammoths.
It is said that all happy families have commonality, and all unhappy families are unhappy in their own, unique way. I really don't see how a deliberate 'seeking of power' would come into any normal relationship. We do know that all people are dominant to some and defer to others. This is the way life is. But whether stronger or weaker, that should not determine whether there is love or lack of love.
And to your main question: Is the unit of a family still relevant in for us (I assume you mean the world at large) in the 21st Century. Yes. A resounding yes! They're the people you generally turn to when you've no one else to turn to. And this will be the case for a long, long time to come.
Yes, it is still relevant.
Children have the greatest odds of a good life outcome (not addicted, not homeless, finishing high school and college, not having children out of wedlock) when raised by their married biological parents who are together for the child's entire childhood.
When the parents separate, the child's odds of bad life outcomes go up.
For children born to a single mother, the odds of a bad life outcome are THREE TIMES higher than born to married parents. For children born to biological parents who aren't married, it doesn't replace marriage, because 75% of married parents are together the 18 years while 25% of just living together couples make it to the child's tenth birthday together.
Same sex parents do not have the same good life outcomes as married opposite sex parents. A child raised by two parents of the opposite sex actually have worse life outcomes than if raised by a single mother, per Canada's longitudinal study and the Regernus one. For children raised by same sex parents, it is about as bad as being raised by a single mother because their relationships are so unstable - but the initial reports said it was equal because they were biased by seeking happy stable same sex couples and never got data on the ones who had bad lives or separated.
Nuclear families of father, mother, & child are still the primary unit of what is defined as family today. However, there are increasingly broadening meaning of family to include non-related friends. There are even some communities where friends become family.
It really depends upon the culture, socioeconomic status, education, & family size. In many affluent, educated circles, family is concentrated upon nuclear blood family members w/a few, choice extended blood family members included, not to mention non-related friends which are valued & seen as families. Also, people from & who have small families have friends who are viewed & treated as family.
Conversely, in poorer, less educated circles, family is concentrated on blood family members only. To them, family is almost exclusively immediate or nuclear family members, everyone else included extended family members are viewed & treated as outsiders. Also poorer, less educated people don't have non-related friends as friends aren't considered to be important. People from large families are the same way-only those in their immediate, nuclear family circle are FAMILY, everyone else including extended family members aren't considered to be family. Forget about friends, they view friends as unnecessary, even superfluous.
Each family has a specific agenda. Some are nurturing, welcoming, & positive while others are soul devouring, condemning, & quite negative. There are very few families where adults believe in the equal rights of & respect for their children & spouses. In the typical or majority of families, families means the adult exercise of power, dominance, & other forms of gamesmanship, even the art & practice of control & one-upmanship among its members. There are families who are accepting of all while there are others w/very strict agendas & parameters as to what is tolerated & what WON'T be.
There are many adults who are powerless, who use their unrealized power in the family setting. They feel that since they are quite insignificant in their work lives, they must feel important so they assert this "importance" by browbeating their families.
Holistic and encompassing response.
For a while I have been made aware of just being a parent is about the parent. That is to exercise power dominance and control. Poor child. They have 18 years if it AND the aftermath affect upon the Adult - child.
I'm currently writing a Hub called Morality v. 2.0 wherein I want to pitch the old bible-based morality (immorality, if you ask me) and replace it with an immoral system (by today's standards) which I think has a higher chance of producing good people.
Bible-based morality says couples may only separate in the instance of adultery, but since men could have multiple wives, what does this mean? It is really only directed at men since they were allowed several "properties." In Mark 10 it does talk about a woman seeking divorce, but again, only for adultery. So I can keep my wife in a cage, I can feed her Alpo, hit her when I feel the need, but she's not allowed to divorce me as long as I stay chaste. Fortunately American jurisprudence doesn't allow men to treat their women or children thus, but the bible...
I would say, "to hell with the Bible," but hell is a creation of the bible, so it's sort of a circular reference. When you blank out all your morality as you know it, all your sense of ethics, and say to yourself, "How should the world work? What system would be most conducive to children becoming happy, unconfused, well-adjusted, normal adults ready to take on tomorrow's challenges?" Well, you'd want to stay far away from our current system.
Couples once married shouldn't divorce, but in my opinion, they shouldn't feel like they're stuck with someone they loathe. The way to accomplish this is to allow freedoms within the marriage that are currently verboten. I'll expand on that in my Hub, but in the O'Neill's famous book on Open Marriage, this is exactly what they were trying to obtain... they were just four decades, or more, too early...
Modesty is the other religious snag. None of the mainstream denominations seem to favor a clothing optional society and insist on calling recreational nudity "indecent." Oh my God! That mentality SO needs to change!
After decades of prudery we can't possibly imagine an open, honest, sexually liberated, AND FUNCTIONAL society, but it could happen. Or are we happy with awkward teenage bashful sexually-frustrated clumsiness? Disenchanted, bored, distant children, anyone? Do we like grouchy bosses, road rage, impersonal robotic bureaucrats, haughty condescending nouveau riche, and the like? Wouldn't it be interesting if just a few minor changes in our daily living habits could change the face of humanity from one of cut-throat opportunism to one approaching idyllic perfection? Families will always be relevant!
I see the very real problem of our youth growing up without a father figure in the picture. I have not seen a case where that is a good thing. True, some fathers should not be around their kids but that does not make the family better for it.
I have seen families where the parents were control freaks and suffering from all kinds of problems. And come to think about it I have seen just about everyone have these qualities to some degree.
Because people are not perfect does not mean they should not form constructive helpful circles of love and friendship.
I must always remember that my imperfections as a father helped/helps to make my children what they are today. And they are very fantastic people.
If we look for the good and love in each family we will find it. With other things that is not always the case.
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