Today’s Topic: Not all families are the same
Mother, father, brother, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; families can be big, small, complicated, straightforward, estranged, diverse, and more. The generic picture many have of a standard family (somewhat due to social media, marketing, and advertisements) is a mother, father, and two children, generally a boy and a girl. Even so, there’s a good chance that the average person doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter mold for what a supposed ‘normal’ family looks like.
Take a look at your own family. Do you have a mother, father, and sibling of the opposite gender? Chances are pretty good that you don’t. If you do, it’s even less likely that you have the perfect familial relationship depicted by movies and TV. Whether your family is small or large, the important thing is how you feel about each and every member. Not everyone is happy with the family they’re born into, and that’s perfectly fine.
Adding onto the previous statement, an important aspect many people don’t understand is that you don’t have to feel obligated to stand by family members just because society says you must. Even if you love each and every member of your family and stand by them through thick and thin, it doesn’t mean everyone else has to or is even able to. A friend told me once of how his boss asked every employee for their mother’s home address so he could send them flowers on Mother’s Day. This is wildly inappropriate because: not everyone has a good relationship with their mother, not everyone has a living mother, and not everyone has a female parental unit in their family (i.e., two fathers, a single father that adopted, or any other case where a mother is not present for whatever reason).
Living in a foreign country, I have many fellow foreigners always ask, “Well, aren’t your parents sad that you left? Don’t they miss you? Were they okay with you leaving? Do you regularly contact them?” Regardless of my answer, I feel like the question is just a projection of that person’s personal familial situation. They know nothing of my family, or lack thereof. Just because their own parents were worried, concerned, or excited for their offspring to live in a foreign country doesn’t mean that someone else has the same situation. Even worse if when that question is asked to a person who doesn’t have a mother, father, or both parental figures in their lives; the question seems insensitive and entitled more often than not.
Not all families are perfect, and not everyone has a large family. Some people might be a family of one, while others might have a family of over thirty people in one or two generations. No matter how many people you have in your family, it’s important to remember that not everyone will have a similar experience to yours; and frankly that’s okay.