An Unconventional Family

Posted: 22nd July 2016 by iBarnabas in journaling
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What is a conventional family anyway? And…who cares?!

The definition of a conventional family has changed as often as the wind in the last five-decades (within my lifetime). Yet, somehow, many of us seem to cling to the Norman Rockwell family portraits or some version of a television family we grew up on. Before my time there were TV families like Leave it to Beaver where June Cleaver kept house and the family all shared their day around the dinner table. Happy Days found Joanie and Richie Cunningham had a similar family makeup. I can also remember the Andy Griffith Show at the same time where Andy Taylor was a widower and father to one young son, Opie.

In the infamous sixties family was really unconventional and took on a communal unit. There was no expectation of blood relations as much as a common spirit of bonding between people living in mostly close quarters.

In the 80’s we had the Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Eight is Enough, Seventh Heaven, and the like. All of these showed a similar family unit but we also had The Brady Bunch who introduced us to a divorced then combined family unit, and Full House with another widowed single father augmented with additional best friends to parent the children. These days, (admittedly I do not watch much TV), I don’t see much of family unit TV shows and those I do depict the Dad as a joke for the most part and focus more on the dysfunction than a bonded family.54c7f93ce6492

I have a family. I’m the Father of two who have each expanded their families as well. Our past has been riddled with dysfunctional drama – not unlike most modern families. I know my part in much of our family dysfunction and, in crystal clear hindsight, can now see the effects and wounds from which my actions created. We do not have a old-school family unit. But we do have a family!!

Not only do we have a family but, in spite of our troubled history, in spite of wounds and divisions and intentionally seeking reconciliation and working very hard at ‘keeping our family together’, I think we have an awesome family. Sure, it’s quite unconventional but, who cares? In-fact, I’d say that our family is quite ideal…. For us. The reason I qualify this as being ideal ‘for us’ is that we, as a family, are making the best of our situation. We cannot turn back time (despite what Marty McFly was able to accomplish to rebuild his family in Back to the Future. But, we can make the best of what we have now.

It’s way too easy to focus on what we’ve done wrong in the past; to imagine how things would have, should have, been different. To compare our family structure against some idealistic tv family (all scripted and fantasy by the way) and kick ourselves for not achieving a non-realistic goal in our family. In recent days I have found myself stepping back a few steps and examining my family. Nope, we are no Cosby family and I am certainly no Dr. Jason Seaver (Growing Pains). Heck, we’re not even the Tanner family (Full House). But, we are a family. Almost a mashup between Full House and a sixties Communal family. My children and their families live near-enough to visit, to share family events (more than just the major holidays), and to ‘be there for each other’. This last one is a major blessing for me. We, as a family, are there for each other. We always have, and we always will. We none have the ‘ideal’ family home situation but we have each other. We step up to the plate when we’re needed. We will always answer the call; lunches, hanging-out, house painting, mechanics, and our favorite: family get-togethers are a staple of who we are.

I’m sick and tired of only looking at the dysfunction. I’m over daydreaming about what could have been or what should have been or had I done this or not done that. Those kind of thoughts only distract us from the blessings of today and the possibilities of tomorrow. In fact, I’ve come to see those ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ thoughts as chaining us to the past. It’s impossible to walk into the future when you’re chained to the past.

What if…. What if we looked at the fact that we even have a family, that our children, grown or young, are alive. What if we were able to rejoice that we get the opportunity to experience life with our family and how our ‘being there for each other’ is such a blessing to them and to us? Sure, I was not the dad I now see I could have been. But, I’m still alive, and my children are nearby and I am still their father. I may have missed major opportunities over the last thirty-years but, I still have at least that many more to go.

What if I stopped kicking myself for yesterday and simply chose to love my children today and rejoice in the opportunities I will have with them tomorrow? What if you did this in your family – whatever yours looks like?

  1. Suzann says:

    Thanking God for our family…we are blessed!!