Family and Parenting

What Family Means to Me #familymadesimple

As I write, I’m 38 weeks pregnant exactly – two days past the point I was when Pixie was born. And it’s really made me think a lot about family: I’m about to recreate the once typical – but surely now atypical – traditional ‘nuclear family’. And yet if ever there’s been a time that I’ll need to educate my little ones about what family means (true family) it’s now.

Of course, I love the idea of a secure and stable upbringing for my children – who wouldn’t choose that over the potential alternative? My own parents separated when I was seven, hubby’s when he was eleven. But though it was a truly terrible time for each of us (my parents’ was a particularly bitter and acrimonious divorce) – I choose to put a positive spin on the resulting legacy:

I’ve watched and learned how not to be a good spouse (and acted on it, I think – hopefully hubby will concur…). I’ve experienced firsthand the trauma and distress it can cause children, which has made me pretty determined to do better for my own babies. However my intention is that my children will never fully appreciate these things, because they’ll never be exposed to them.

 

Nuclear Family vs Modern Family

But one other positive Pixie has been (and the next one will be) exposed to, is the extended family she would not otherwise have had:

My daughter is surrounded by happy, devoted  grandparents, who not only dote on her – and vice versa – but also model healthy relationships.

We’ve chosen to have a surprise this time around, but despite many people assuming I’d be happier to have a boy to even out our brood, I’d be delighted to give Pixie a sister: both my mum and mother-in-law are each one of four girls – and I’m jealous!

I grew up with two brothers and didn’t get a sister until I turned about twenty years old. How? My baby brother met a girl and I’m sure it can’t be fluke that he happened to choose one of my most favourite people in the world. I didn’t know her before, but she is now his wife, mother to my littlest nephew – and my dear sister.

And this is precisely my point: 27% of people define family as ‘whoever you choose it to be’*.

The nuclear family is, in fact, irrelevant – despite it being something many of us (including myself!) still aspire to.

 

What Family Means to Me

Like 49% of people*, I consider my relationship with my family to be ‘very good’. My elder brother married my other sister a few years later, and between the six of us we’ve had some pretty special times. I think the older one’s filthy sense of humour helps. Though in fairness, in my favourite memory of us all together (except hubby sadly, as we’d only just met), it was actually my younger sister who took that title…

It was Christmas 2008 and we’d all congregated at my little brother and sister’s house. We were doing the whole eat/drink/be merry thing and in the evening we decided to break out Cranium. If you’re yet to play, you’re missing out – it’s one of those games where you pick a card and have to draw or act out a title/phrase etc and it has the potential to be brilliant fun…

When it came to my little sister’s turn, she was blessed/cursed (you decide) with an action card and the creature ‘sperm whale’. Oh, and I may have forgotten to mention that my mum was also playing.

Suffice to say, my shy little sister showed her true colours during her momentous performance, leaving none of us in any doubt as to the answer, thus securing her place in our hearts forever. It was a very special moment which has gone down in family history.

Alas, my only regret is that we don’t all live closer together.

 

#familymadesimple – When Family Breaks Down

Naturally, not all marriages are perfect and it’s not realistic to expect all families to remain nuclear these days. I wonder how many of us ‘Millennials’ have been influenced by our parents’ mistakes to try harder/stick it out longer when the going gets tough, as I’ve spoken about before. But inevitably there are situations where this is not appropriate…

Slater Gordon surveyed more than 2000 people and 42% of respondents said they’d required legal assistance in family law, while 15% have at least one step-sibling. Should you find yourself in difficult circumstances of a similar nature, Slater and Gordon offer confidential advice and assistance, as well as guidance with such issues as executing wills.

What family means

What does family mean to you?

*Based on a survey of more than 2000 people carried out by Slater and Gordon.

This is a commissioned post.

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