Understanding ‘Family’ Beyond Blood Lines and Marriage

By Neilan D’Souza

Family is often defined as a group or a unit in society consisting of parents and children implying on blood relations and marriage. When we look further we can see that families are structured and can be of various types such as extended family, joint family, nuclear family, single parent family, step family, grandparent family, childless family and same-sex family. Depending on the society and cultures we belong to, different types of families are considered as ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’. Regardless of any type of family or its key members we must note that there are 3 components which are very important for any kind family to exist.

The first component of a family is ‘CLUSTER’, a family no matter how small can never be an individual and this is the beauty of it. To be considered a family there has to be more than one person involved who shares a deep and intimate bond of care, consideration and nourishment with another. This brings us to the second closely connected component that is ‘CONNECTION’. A family cannot exist without a connection, mainly to say a connection of belonging and relationship is needed to enrich and assure closeness of the cluster. This connection need not always be of blood or marriage but can be of friendship and interest.

Illustration a Happy Family/Net

Connection unites us and enriches the cluster helping us to look beyond our differences and value the qualities of a person. And finally the third important component ‘PLACE’, a family exists physically; it is grounded in reality which means to say that it lives and forms a part of society, but it must not be confused with or limited to a home. A home could be called a place where a family lives but this is the boundary which needs to break because it has limited us in many ways to only care for those who are in our home.

Then, as mentioned above is the common notion of categorizing different types of families as ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’. This has been reason to cause all sorts of conflict in both religious and social communities. This applies to the range of families from same-sex families, polygamous and polyamorous families to all other non-monogamous families. Although each type family is different and differently understood both from religious and cultural point of views, we must instead of categorizing them as ‘Normal’ and ‘Abnormal’ families, understand that every type family is unique and deserves acceptance because all families are Clusters, having Connection and Living.

Rather than terming Families as ‘Abnormal’ we must work towards solving the many problems which arise within a family such as distrust, hatred, abuse of all kinds and more. This can only come about when we accept those beyond our own boundary as part of the family and seek help in learning, understanding, sharing and care. Let us try to understand the importance of family beyond blood lines and marriage so that we create a peaceful and cooperative world today.