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Thursday, August 14, 2008

What Does Family Mean?

What Does Family Mean?

This is a question that I have asked myself many times over the past several years. The answer to this question was very important to me as a teenager and it is especially important to me now. Some definitions describe family as:

The group comprising a husband and wife and their dependent children, constituting a fundamental unit in the organization of society.

Or as:

The collective body of persons who live in one house, and under one head or manager; a household, including parents, children, and servants, and, as the case may be, lodgers or boarders.

There are other possible definitions, but they are not what I am concerned with.

The reason for my questioning on this subject is that as a teenager I often felt that I did not have a family. My family had broken up when my mother and stepfather divorced when I was in junior high and my mother had moved us to Indiana. Shortly after the move, my brother had checked himself out of school and was given a one way Greyhound ticket to Oklahoma (thank Goodness he had a good seat mate!). A few months later, my sister and I took the same path as our brother. My sister and I were angry over the divorce and our mother’s lifestyle, and, quite frankly, our mother couldn’t handle us.

My life with my father in Oklahoma didn’t last very long. I moved back in with my mother and then to my ex-stepdad’s and then to a state-run home in Indiana. I hated my life and felt betrayed by all those whom I loved. You can bet as clear as day I didn’t trust anyone at that time in my life and not for a long time afterwards. I did live with three good families during the remainder of my high school career. I struggled with the term family as I lived with these families. I was never sure how any of them felt about me and even if they made it clear how felt, I was too depressed to notice.

As I started a family of my own in my early twenties, I decided that I didn’t want my children to feel the same as I did when I was younger. Over the course of my marriage, I have learned to trust my husband (but that took years) and I have learned to trust my love for my children. The unit I have with my husband and children is what I consider my main family. However, I also consider others as a part of my family because they shaped the person and spirit that I am now. Some of those entities are my biological family and some are the families that I lived with. I acknowledge that these other families may not feel the same way about me and I really don't expect them to. I trust some people in my life more than others and I definitely respect some individuals more than others to this day.

What does family mean to you?


A Mac said...

Wow, good post! I think families should be close, but most are not.

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