During these difficult times, I often find myself looking around and analyzing other families. I look at them and sometimes compare and what makes them different then mine, good or bad or indifferent. The thing I realized is that there are many things that make us different which is a good thing, but there are also many things that all of us have that define a family. I came up with the following list of elements that I think make a family.
The first element is people, who make up the family. This can vary from family to family. There can be just a husband and a wife, two men, two women, all of which make a couple. These couples could have children. Even if you don’t have children it doesn’t mean you aren’t a family. You are still a unit working together which makes up a family. There could be adoptive families or single-parent families as well. Maybe even grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. The one consistency is that there are multiple individuals working together as one. They need to make decisions that affect everyone and therefore the unit as a whole. A family doesn’t need to be blood but a unit brought together.
The family unit usually has a place, a location where they live or gather. This is usually called a home. A home can be and mean many things to different families. Some families may have consistency and be in the same home for years while others may not have a home or move from place to place. You can live in a mansion or have a smelly home that needs charcoal bags to purify the air. The thing is that where the family is together is what defines their home no matter where it may be. A home is where the family has memories.
One important element of a family are feelings and emotions. What does being around these people bring to the party. Families usually revolve around grace, loyalty, respect, forgiveness, trust, support and vulnerability. You must give your family grace which means that you give them things even if it may not be deserved. If someone in your family hid your dryer balls and you need them, you would give them grace and not yell at them but understand why they did it. You may give them things such as loyalty, forgiveness and respect even if they may not deserve it. With a family you typically have loyalty or allegiance because you are that unit, you are always one. You need to forgive those around you to a point because they love you and want what is best for you. If you have someone suffering through substance abuse issues you work together as a team to conquer that hurdle. All of these feelings and emotions revolve around respect and support. You do them because you respect and support them. When this is done then you earn trust for each other. Families may thrive in some of these elements but are lacking in others and that is ok. The point is that a family unit operates in a certain way that gives us a feeling or a certain emotion.
Another thing that makes up a family is their everyday life activities. How does your family operate? A family could have working parents, stay at home parents, a disabled family member, kids who go to school or kids who go to daycare. If the adults work they can be in an office away from the home or potentially work from home. If the adult works from home then they may be able to be a homemaker and work on things in the home including take care of the children. Kids could be homeschooled or go to school or if they are little enough may go to a daycare. There are also hobbies and extracurricular activities that make up a home. Are you a family that enjoys the outdoors like camping and hiking? Do you enjoy sports like basketball, soccer, baseball or even rock climbing? Are you a social family that mingles with others? Or are you a family that likes to stay home and be with each other and stay sheltered. Any of these things mentioned aren’t better than the other but it just makes you think how different each family can be based upon what they do.
All of these things define a family. How do you define your family? It is a good thing to think, contemplate and assess.