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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: How do you define ‘family’?

With the holiday season now in full swing — a holiday season defined by spending time with our families — it’s time to ask an important question:

How do you define family?

When you think about “getting together with the family,” what does that mean to you? Is family limited to spouses, children, parents, and siblings? Is your family wider than that?

As a single person with no kids, I’ve invented my own family. (I’ve never understood people who say things like “You can’t pick your family” — of course you can!) I have friends that I consider “family.” I have semicousins to whom I am not, strictly speaking, technically actually related to. I’m very selective about just whom I will take into my family fold, but I generally don’t see any reason to limit the definition of family to only those to whom I am connected by blood or marriage.
A corollary question might be, Is our society too restrictive in how it defines family? At a time when fewer heterosexual people than ever are marrying, when more people are openly homosexual but still forbidden from legally marrying, when 20 percent of women are childless at the age 45, aren’t more and more of us inventing our own nontraditional families anyway? Perhaps that means a looser definition of family will eventually catch up with us…

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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