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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Celebrities /  The Modern Meaning of Family
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Wednesday, May 4,2022

The Modern Meaning of Family

By Liz Sterling  
This weekend I traveled with one of my besties to Daytona Beach for a little getaway.

She grew up there, and we’ve gone back and forth over the last two decades a half dozen times or more. You can imagine the stories she shared about her family and friends and neighbors and her parents, who were well respected in the community. As a matter of fact, her father started the Jerry Doliner Food Bank, which is active and serving those in need in Volusia and Flagler Counties.

My friend told me her dad served as a father to many, who he helped along the way. He would give food to the homeless who lived under the bridge and provide them with sustenance. He was a mentor too, and gave his time and talent to all those who thought of him as a treasure. Jerry passed many years ago, but his name and his heartfelt desire to make a difference in the world lives on.

Think about what you look for in family: caring, support, nurturance, guidance, love, encouragement, inspiration… these are all qualities that come from family ideals. Truth be told, many of us did not get all of that growing up, and have wished for a better family of origin.

Today, families are very different than a century ago. We are much more economically and socially diversified.

No longer is the family system like it was for my friend whose grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins all lived on the same block. Today our families are spread throughout the globe, and we rely on Zoom and FaceTime to connect. We also are seeing families adopt new norms in single family homes and single parenting. I know quite a few millennials who have frozen their eggs, and are just now, in their forties, starting families, with or without partners. And childrearing has changed too, with the growing number of adoptions by same sex partners… as Bob Dylan wrote:

Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And don’t criticize What you can’t understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road is rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one If you can’t lend your hand For the times they are a-changin’

Indeed, the times they are a-changin.

“Family of choice” is now an expression used by many who are recognizing that the familial bond with the biological family may not offer the support necessary for personal growth and wellness. Veterans, 12-steppers, social club members and the LGBTQ community, often out of necessity, choose a new family, especially if they are rejected after they come out.

According to Wikipedia, “LGBT individuals in particular often seek out families of choice when ostracism by their families of origin leave them in need of social support. Many LGBT individuals, upon coming out, face rejection or shame from the families they were raised in. Research indicates that in the absence of social support by an individual’s family of origin, a family of choice can promote resilience.”

What does family mean to you? Maybe you’ve been blessed with great parents, siblings, children, cousins, and if so, you know how the family system and dynamics work well for you. For many others, time has taken family members away, and newfound family and friends make up the majority of life’s relationships. I am so grateful to have more than a handful of friends who I call family. They are the angels, support system, mentors and guides who love me unconditionally. Oh, and I’d be remiss without mentioning our pets. They are family too! Having a four-footed or winged one around is another part of the whole kit and caboodle of the great modern family.

So count your blessings, and look at the bigger picture of how you are part of the great big family that is here to inspire, uplift and help us make life better.

May is the month of Mother’s Day. You may have a mother figure or a biological mom or adopted mom, or you may be a mom. However it is for you, may this May bring you bounds of love and joy and friendship too.


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