Multiple Choices – family documentary

I have eight siblings, all of which are adopted from all over the world. I am my parents’ only biological child, and I love them all. -boy

There’s no such thing as a functional family. I think it’s a myth. -woman

These two statements reveal that ‘family’ and ‘functionalism’ are not concrete, but relative terms. While the traditional view of a functional family may have been a small nuclear family with a highly obedient wife and children, the definitions of what family is and the values attributed to it have greatly changed over the years. Perhaps these values and definitions have not so much changed as has society just become increasingly aware. This is reflected in the evolution of family sitcoms, from the Brady Bunch in the 70s, to Friends in the 90s, to current shows like Modern Family. And while views of family may be changing to include more than the traditional representation, it has not become as dysfunctional as conservative people may believe. These changing ideals have simply opened the way for new interactions and relationships, and have shown how interpersonal bonds can transcend biological ones.

Coming from a traditional nuclear family, my take on family is the people with whom you create strong bonds of loyalty and selflessness. Whether one person or twenty people, family is made by individuals who may or may not be related to you, but with whom you spend your time and energy. I actually wish to have my own children and also to adopt when I get older, and so the boy’s statement that his family is fully functional and built on love regardless of biological ties is the picture that I envision in my future. As for functionality, I think the concept of perfection is a myth and an idea that has been used as a marketing tool. As there is no perfectly functional individual, there can be no such thing as a perfectly functional organization that is made up of those individuals. However all families are functional in the sense that each family, whatever its definition, gets its job done in creating and nurturing a person, for better or for worse. I do not think I have had the best of or the worst of childhoods, but I have had my fair share of family drama and I think my parents did the best with what they knew. I can’t wish that my parents had done anything differently because that would be to give up an experience and a part of myself that I am just not willing to do. I am lucky to have parents, but I am also lucky for the darker times that have helped us all learn how to be a family. Maybe that’s why families aren’t perfect –  because we have to learn how to be a family in the first place.

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