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Tag: family

April 29 2010

Family

Family has always been important to me. I realize that doesn’t make me special or unique, but it’s true nonetheless. I have had many friends and acquaintances throughout my life, but when I feel that familial bond with someone it makes it that much more important. And I don’t mean the people that share the same bloodlines as I do. After all, if you go back far enough you’ll find that we all have the same blood pumping through our veins. Before we educated ourselves, bloodlines mattered more than associations.

An old friend taught me a lot about what family really means. In many ways she was a completely different person than her adopted father. They looked different, spoke differently, acted differently, came from vastly different backgrounds, and had distinctly different interests. But she loved that man beyond measure. She was never apologetic about him and never afraid to show it. It was genuine familial love and it wasn’t based on blood.

Family bonds transcend family names or marital contracts.  I consider many of my friends to be as close as family.  Some of my friends are closer to me than people with my last name.  In an increasingly diverse society, it pays to not have such a limited definition of what a family can be.

October 23 2009

Q: Why do couples break up so easily? When a husband and a wife disagree and argue, they divorce and they don’t love eachother anymore. But when siblings fight or if someone argue with their parent, they still love eachother and value them as family. Isn’t the spouse apart of the family? It was their choice to marry them. So is it different when a couple feuds?

A: There is a misconception that marriage means family. Marriage is an artificial construct of our society intended to achieve a specific goal, just like a contract. Being married does not guarantee that things will work out just like signing a contract doesn’t mean everyone will honor it.

Family, on the other hand, is a completely different concept. You do not have to be related by blood to someone for your mind (or heart) to consider that person family. After all, if you go back far enough we’re all related, so blood relation isn’t really *that* significant. What *is* significant is family; those people we love no matter what. Best friends, siblings, parents, and even spouses.

The question is whether your significant other is part of your marriage or part of your family. But be honest with yourself about that because that’s the crux of the whole issue. Are you just honoring the contract of marriage (which is a perfectly decent and acceptable thing to do) or do you actually consider this person to be an integral part of your family?

October 21 2009

Q: Fellow atheists, I really need some help on this one. I (against some recommendations by others) decided to take an opportunity to tell my mom about my “conversion” or should I say my “reversion” to atheism. She’s fine with it. She had me tell my dad. Last night I found myself in a major debate with him which he said could possibly take several months (all of which are going to be fruitless I bet).

He asked things of me for evidence for evolution’s positive impact on science (his “comfort zone” apparently is “smashing” evolution). If I cite something from the internet, he says that the internet “has no peer review” and thus is probably lying. If I cite from one of our encyclopedias he claims that it is simply restating something that was told to the editor (or some bull like that) and that it is not a good source for information. And you know what? That’s all I can get! How the hell am I supposed to talk to this guy when he denies the validity of everything I cite?

When I mentioned that Kent Hovind (my dad’s role model apparently) has said lies and I have a video of those lies and of a debate between him and a college student on the radio station that shows how dumb Kent Hovind is, my dad said that they were videos from the internet, I have no way of knowing that the video was unedited (though the guy claimed it was and there seemed to be no flaws in it), and the video about Kent Hovind’s lies also cites the internet and thus doesn’t count.

When he asked about “how do you know what’s right and wrong?” I started talking and he said “so you’re saying ‘social Darwinism’, how do you back that up?”. I said that a society in which self preservation and social preservation are prevalent is more likely to survive than one that isn’t, and then I also started mentioning how different creatures in the animal kingdom (elephants, dogs, etc) all show examples of “morality”. Then my dad said “there’s a quote that goes “there’s lies, there’s bigger lies, and then there’s statistics”” and then he went on to say how “statistics can be arranged to say whatever you want them to say.” I started saying that this can apply to Creationism as well and that it is actually used more, and he then chose that time to end the debate (on the excuse that I better get to bed) and he said that we would continue it some other time. He then restated something that he said before, which was that “you are going to obey the rules of this house” completely ignoring social Darwinism and saying that “school” (even though it’s fundie) “was probably a “negative influence” in this area.”

What the hell am I supposed to do about him now? How should I point out how dumb and wrong it is? Sorry about the length of this question, it was just required to show how dumb he really is.

A: You will never be able to reconcile your father’s beliefs with your own on this matter. It’s best to avoid the subject whenever possible and stick to more useful debates. Don’t shy away from debating with him about other things or else it will become impossible to even talk to him. Argue with someone you don’t have emotional ties to. :o)

Just never forget…
1. He is unwilling (not unable) to understand evolution.
2. He does require more of a comfort zone with his beliefs at his age than you do, so let him have it.
3. He is wrong. Evolution is real.

July 26 2005

For the past half century or more, the ideal of a family in the United States was the nuclear family. Though the definition has changed somewhat to be more inclusive, it has not changed the fundamental nature of it. Ideal though it may seem, there are drawbacks to this type of family, which has likely led to its steady decline in popularity.

The image we typically have when we think of the nuclear family is a smiling husband, returning from a hard day’s work; a smiling wife, wearing her apron and holding a freshly-baked pie; and a young boy and girl, taking just enough time from their homework to look up and smile at the camera. Though this ideal became the norm in the middle of the last century, it was too restrictive of an idea to completely consume the whole nation, especially considering the wide variety of circumstances Americans encounter in life. As time progressed, its definition was slightly redefined to include any man, with any woman, with any number of children, living in a single household. Though this was more inclusive and accurate, it changed nothing about the fundamental aspects of nuclear families.

The initial appeal of a nuclear family was, to many, self-evident. The man of the household would spend a full day at work, the woman would spend a full day working on the home, and it would allow the family time in the evenings to focus on activities that would bring them closer. Also, since the U.S. was hardly concerned with agricultural concerns, many nuclear families had to be able to move when the jobs moved. A nuclear family, with the dominance seated firmly in the bread-winning male, would have relatively little financial difficultly making the move. With so much dependence on the head of the household to provide, it brought the family as a unit closer together, making it possible for them fend for themselves as a group. With a clearly-defined hierarchy and its ability to work as a single entity, it is clear why the traditional nuclear family was long considered ideal to many in the U.S. and Canada.

But all of these positive traits ignore several glaring problems. First of all, most of these advantages are dependent on the idea that the family be subservient to the male head of the household. He must also be able to consistently provide for three or more people, technically forever. In a real modern household, most families require the woman to also help with the bills by getting some kind of job outside the home. This creates the obvious problem of the wife doing double duty, working at home and working at work. Ideal though this may be to the man, there are obviously many women who do not find this appealing enough to enter (or remain, for that matter) into marriage. Aside from the androcentric problems experienced in nuclear families, the isolation of the family unit from the rest of kin makes the independence of the family unit problematically imperative. Young mothers are separated from the relatives that could help her physically and emotionally through the ordeal, leaving such care primarily up to hospital and other relatively impersonal care workers. And once the children are gone, the tradition of the nuclear lifestyle may be hard for the woman to break out of, leaving her a permanent housewife.

These serious problems with nuclear family structure, coupled with the increase of awareness about equality both in the home and in the workplace, have likely led to the steady decrease in nuclear households. Though it can be argued it is no more flawed than most other forms of families, the dynamic nature of personal relationships and other circumstances mean that more than one type of family may be needed to fulfill everyone’s needs. Though the traditional nuclear family has its flaws, in some cases it has proven to be a valuable method for establishing a family. Perhaps there is no perfect example of how all families should be, but rather, that there are several examples of families that may be perfect for some people.