Family Ties

Family ties what are they and how do they affect our lives for good or ill. There are any

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number of books we can read, television shows we can watch, even movies we can see depicting both the ideal and the dysfunctional. In the 50’s there were the Cleavers of Leave it to Beaver, the Nelsons of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and the Andersons of Father Knows Best. Although in the 60’s and even in the 70’s there continued to be idealized versions of families portrayed on television and even in movies these classics taught a generation what families were supposed to be.

The Juggling Act – Our New Reality

Jump to reality and it doesn’t seem these portrayals are achievable in today’s highly volatile society; truthfully, perhaps not even desirable. In an age where we regularly relocate families across country and even across the globe we lose touch easily with our

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extended families for weeks, months, even years at a time. With the advent of women in the workplace, two income families just to pay the bills, reproductive choices and women waiting longer for both marriage and children there are changes to how we view family and our ties to them. Add the other side of the coin, the number of single parent households most of them led by women, and finally the number of grandparents raising children today. What we have today is anything but the stylized ideal of the past.

What does this mean in relation to family and how we define them today?  

My family is an amalgamation of biological members, adopted members, married in members, and step-members. I have different relationships with each and with some, I have made a conscious decision to limit my relationship. Others have made similar decisions to limit their relations and contact with me. So again, I have to ask how meaningful are family ties versus other relationships.

My answer is that they are what we choose them to be.

Throughout the years, we form relationships, friendships and lovers come and go. Some stay longer than others and become part of our extended families through marriage or otherwise. In the world today, we no longer stay in one place our entire life, we move for

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work, to marry, to attend school. We are besieged with the countless objects we must juggle day-to-day simply to so our lives run smoothly. Unlike past times, we frequently do not have extended family to support and assist us in emergencies; instead relying upon friends or even paid for services.

Family ties, what are they really? Do we create families as we progress through our lives, piecing them together with friends and relations? I have other relationships that I would more easily call family than those related to me by blood, marriage or family history. I don’t believe that we owe love, allegiance, or even respect to those who don’t treat us well simply because they are family. Ultimately, we create our family made of people who we care for and who care for us. Those ties of love, care, sacrifice, and yes-shared laughter are what keep us bound together, these are the true family ties.

More to come.

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