Today is Sunday, October 13, 2013.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” –Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
In times gone by, a family often consisted of three or even four generations of people living together, and of course they were all related by blood or marriage. Fifty years ago, the nuclear family, consisting of only parents and their biological children who had not yet reached the age of majority seemed to be the norm. These days, the concept of family is changing rapidly. With divorce and remarriage, the idea of a blended family has come into its own, popularized by such TV shows as “Make Room for Daddy,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Sister, Sister,” “Step by Step,” “My Two Dads,” and others. Shows such as “Friends” and “Glee” show a different type of family – people who don’t necessarily live together, but who consider themselves as part of a group that has a lot in common. It could be argued that the people in the fictional Minneapolis-based TV station in the Mary Tyler Moore show also considered themselves in some ways a family.
Here is a definition of “family” from Michelle Gottlieb, a family therapist: “My definition of family is not, necessarily, those people that you are related to biologically or legally. Family, according to my definition, consists of those people who are supportive, nurturing and accepting of you. Family is made up of the people that you go to when you have a problem and who will always help you. Family is comprised of the people that you would support no matter what is happening in your life.”
Now here are some definitions from teenagers. Because they are under 18, their last names were not used in the New York Times article from which these quotes were taken.
“There are kids with two moms, or two dads, and with one mom or one dad. There are also plenty of kids who live with a close relative as well. Family are the people you feel safe and secure with. Everyone’s family is normal to them, because that is how they live their life.” –Caitlin
“I define family as someone that loves you & someone who is there for you no matter what.” –Karissa
Family doesn’t consist of just relatives. You can consider anyone family. Whom ever [sic] is close to you. It doesn’t matter who they are, I have best friends that I consider sisters. I think who ever you love the most is your family.” –Kimison
“To me family is people who are always there for you no matter what.” –Jena
“The definition of family to me is a group of people who truly love each other and care for you. But yes the circumstances of what family use to [sic] be is now changing into new categories of families. Family life is changing but so are people.” –Harris
“I suppose “Family” means more of a group of people you can really and fall back on when time get rough, but its hard to tell what family is to yourself when you don’t know what a real family is.” –Zack
“Family, to me, denotes a body of closely related individuals, either from origin as in genetics, or through action as in revolutionary groups, that are linked by a common partnership in attaining a certain goal, namely survival. This grouping can extend to nearly any realm of life.” –Dai
“I define family as those people who you are closest with and who you can entrust with your worries, dreams, and attitudes. That is one’s true family. Relatives are not always family, and family is not always relatives.” –Nessa
“My view of a family is not only my relatives, but the people closest to me. I don’t believe in a “normal family” because nobody is normal and not everyones family is perfect. My family right now consists of my grandma, mom, Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, Brothers, Sisters, and my best friends. I consider my friends my family because i love them and they are like brothers and sisters to me. that is what i consider my family. [sic]” –Izzy
“I think that families are all different. I think every single family is different, and that is a good thing. Family should be caring and loving. You should feel safe around them. Here is what i think the word family stands for.
Frankly, the kids’ definitions of family are just as good as the family therapist’s definition, and they do reflect the notion that the definition of a family is changing in our society. As Harris says, “Family life is changing, and so are people.”
In my own life, the people whom I consider family are those with whom I share spiritual beliefs, my Eckankar family. These are the people who understand where I’m coming from and with whom I feel most comfortable. These are the people who “get it” when I talk about my problems or when I make a comment about life. We may not agree about everything, but we have enough in common, spiritually, to communicate on a deep level.
Fortunately, for me, Yahoo groups and Facebook have made it possible to meet and keep in touch with ECKists all over the world, and I have been blessed to meet in person many of those whom I first got to know online at Eckankar seminars in the last couple of decades. The annual Eckankar Worldwide Seminar will be held October 25-27, 2013, at the Minneapolis Convention Center, and I will be among them. Each year, thousands of ECKists from around the globe converge in Minneapolis for the Worldwide Seminar, held on or close to the start of the Spiritual New Year, October 22. The Worldwide Seminar typically hosts 4,000 – 6,000 people, although I remember one seminar where it was announced that there were over 7,000, and there was once a seminar held in Africa where 10,000 people were gathered. For us, seminars are an exciting time. They are a time for us to recharge our spiritual batteries among friends, trade stories, offer and receive encouragement, and learn new ways to bring the love of God into our daily lives. In many ways, it is like a family reunion. It will be good to be with my ECK family once again. 🙂