I'm a Certified Health Coach who wants to help you create the best balance of spiritual, physical and mental health that is possible.
As we dive into today's topic about how we might create our own family of choice, let's look at some of the common definitions for the term family.
I googled the word Family and will share the two top definitions that I uncovered. The first states: Family-A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.
The second: Family-All of the descendants of a common ancestor living together.
Those are pretty narrow interpretations, but the world concept of creating families of choice is relatively new. I am a baby boomer, so at the time of my birth, the traditional family was comprised by the two definitions that I shared above. I've no doubt that there were other "families" of choice going on in the world, but suspect that they flew pretty low under the radar.
I grew up with television programs such as Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver. Pretty narrow depictions of life in a typical, albeit stereotypical American family. We have Mom, Dad and a couple of kids; maybe a pet or two.
Later programs like My Three Son's shook things up a bit by giving us a widowed father and his three son's. Then we added in Good ole Uncle Charlie and had an early example of a family other than the stereotypical Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids and a dog.
We were still light years from life as we live it today. Along about 1970 we had a couple of inventive sitcoms such as The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch, but even then the feeling was that these families were unusual and not quite "normal" or standard. I suppose it was a really big event to have Shirley Partridge as a divorced matriarch of her family, where previously unwed parents were almost always depicted as widowed rather than the controversy of divorce.
Life today is certainly a lot more like Modern Family than Father Knows Best. I love that we live in a time that we can explore alternate relationships and alternate families.
Too many people live lives of isolation and loneliness. Maybe a single woman is waiting for a man to come along; or a single man might be waiting for a special woman. What if both of these folks opened their minds a bit and explored having a family situation with people they already know? What if we redefined our idea of Family so as to eradicate loneliness and to expand the potential for a life complete with loving relationships and shared lives?
A Blueprint for a truly Modern Family
As a woman who has been single most of my life, I am very open to creative solutions when it comes to the life I live.
I've been married and divorced and married and widowed. In between I've been a single parent and a single woman living alone with only my pets.
I have been happy in all of the above situations, but if I'm being honest with myself I think I'm happier when I have people to call "family". That is not to say that my life living alone is depressing or terribly lonely. But, having recently traveled this summer and stayed with two different families, then having company stay with me for several days I am remembering the joy's of living with other people.
If you have ever found yourself wondering what life might be like living with people other than your own family then read on further with me as we explore that notion.
One of the things that made me the happiest during my travels and stay's with family and friends was the ability to share meals with other people! That was probably one of the happiest outcomes for me, of my time spent in other's homes. I know when my friend stayed with me for several days I delighted in being able to prepare meals for us to share, or to go out for a bite to eat with them.
Another wonderful experience of staying with others was being able to share my day with somebody else. Somehow, it's just not the same when I come home from a long day and have only the dog and cat to talk to. They just aren't all that interested in hearing what was on my agenda that day. But it sure was nice when I could talk to my family members or friends about my day and to hear about there's.
I'm not suggesting that all the single persons in the world should abandon their solo lives and start a commune or get a roommate. But, I am suggesting that if one feels perhaps a bit lonely at times, or misses the days they had people to eat with or to cook for, maybe there are some people you might consider combining your life with?
Today we have families of every imaginable constellation. Single parents of both genders; gay parents raising families with two "Dads" or two "Mom's"; transgendered families, adoption, foster care and so much more.
I have found myself looking at my close friends and trying on the idea of combining my life with some of them. I haven't given up on the idea of one day meeting a like minded companion and joining our lives together in a more traditional sort of family.
But, I also have opened my mind to thinking that instead of waiting for a person to come into my life, maybe I could be doing something proactive to create a little family all my own?
Let's explore some of the unique family style's you might adopt.
I was adopted as an infant. I think that being adopted has made it feel logical to me to create my own family, or to "adopt" others into my family of choice. I have "adopted" several people as my own children when their parents passed away, or they had poor or non existing relationships with their own parents.
I think that adoption is one of the best gifts anybody can give or receive! To choose to love a person and be their parent, or to give them a home is a beautiful gift and it benefits the giver as well as the receiver.
Why not take an Adoption type approach to building your own family of choice? Perhaps you are looking to change your living arrangement; perhaps you simply want to have more quality people that are like minded in your life?
Whether you are looking to alter your living arrangement, or simply fill your life with more people the approach is the same. Be open minded and loving!
I have a friend who I have known casually for a year or so, but have become really close to in the past two months. He is a gay man and I am a straight woman. I have adult children that are grown; he has one nearly adult daughter. He lives alone when the daughter is not with him; I live alone always.
It has occurred to me lately how much I would love to share my life with this friend of mine. I think that we could make a home together and be quite comfortable. I'm not suggesting that either of us turn our back on our nature and try to have a traditional relationship with one another! I'm suggesting that we have a family unit, but that we would each be free to pursue a love relationship with other people as would be fitting to our life style.
Think of the myriad benefits we could enjoy? Shared meals, sharing about our days; sharing our dreams and goals for the future! We would have all the same things to experience that other families have, minus the element of a physical relationship.
Why not? Perhaps if we weren't wed to the notion of one person filling all our needs, this concept would unfold more easily? I was raised to think that one day a person "grows up" and meets the man or woman of their dreams and they get married. The married couple buys a house, has a kid or two and they rely on one another.
But, in today's world people are learning that we can't put all the eggs in one basket! We need a lot more than one other person in our lives! There is no longer the notion that the end goal in life is marriage and children. Now we have people who live all kinds of lives and achieve many things that have nothing to do with marriage and children.
But why not have more love, if it were available? For me, why not have the love of a dear friend; share a life together and still live my own life? This is a welcome idea to me, versus the fairly solitary life that I live today.
Consider the idea of two or three adult women living in one home and collectively raising their children together? Or maybe a couple of single father's would like to do the same thing?
Or bringing an adult parent or parents to live with the nuclear family? Today life can be so difficult that many people simply cannot afford to live on their own. How lovely for a young child to grow up in a multi-generational home! Think of all the benefit to having more than one generation living under one roof.
Perhaps a group of adults living together in a communal type of setting? The options are endless.
The point is that we have so many options available to us today that the sky is literally the limit! If you are a person who feels like they could use more love in their day to day life; or more companionship perhaps one of these suggestions makes sense to you?
Creating your family of choice
If you are interested in creating a family of choice, it's probably easier than you think! Just start thinking about the people in your life that you love and explore the possibilities of sharing more of your life with them.
Maybe you can invite a dear friend to your home for a meal and discuss that you are thinking about how the two of you might be a good fit to share a home together? Maybe the friend has been thinking about this too!
You might discover that you both are excited at the prospect of becoming each other's families. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain by simply putting yourself out there a little bit.
Remember, it is up to YOU to define the term Family! Go forth and create the happiest family unit of your dreams!
Martha Montour (author) from Phoenix, Arizona on August 10, 2016:
Dear Jody, Thank you for reading and for sharing that we agree about what means family. Thank you threekeys for reading as well, and for your kind words. I'm happy if my words serve as a reminder. Have a fabulous day!
threekeys on August 10, 2016:
I liked your article very much Martha.
I hope your plans work out with your gay friend and you both have created your family together.
We are lucky now that we can explore and have alternate forms of family. Thankyou for re-reminding me!
Jody Lee on August 09, 2016:
Very thoughtful and insiteful. In this day and age there is no norm, it is what you create. Thank you again for another masterpiece.