Social Problems Essay, Research Paper
Definition of Family
There are many issues and concepts that involve the word ?family?. Every person has a certain image of what a family is supposed to be. Different cultures and people believe different things. According to the Merriam-Webster?s Collegiate Dictionary the word ?family? is defined as a group of persons of common ancestry. There have been many problems with who decides what family actually means. Every single person has a different meaning of what the image and word means. But, also the word family has been seen differently throughout history. During the 15th century the term ?family? was described as a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head. And that usually included servants. There are so many definitions of the word family; you never know which one to go with. The stereotypical definition of family today is ?the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their own or adopted children.?
Today there is much different type of families that are accepted by society. They can be like normal stereotype, a single parent family, adoptive parents and extended families. The traditional all-American or stereotypical family is perceived to be a male and female who are married and have two children. The children are usually a boy and a girl. This family is what everyone sees and believes to be the correct family. It is the classic stereotype. Now many families are like that. In today?s world you have two different family types. Whether it is a single mother raising two or four kids; a single father raising his kids. The latter stereotype is usually related to Caucasians. African American families have a stereotype of there being only a mother and her kids. Even though, there are families that fit the classic stereotype not all families are like that.
One type of family that is well known is the Mafia (which is defined as a unit of crime organization operating within a geographical area) . A major area where the Mafia can be found is in New York City. This type of family throughout history has been looked down upon but is a close nit group. This group is a ?family? but not the traditional one everyone thinks of. Sure they are lead by one person, but not necessarily related by blood or adoption. Another type of family is from the Mormon religion. The Mormons believe that a man can have as many wives as he wants. The more wives a man has the more powerful he is seen in the eyes of the Mormon group. This began to be seen as unpleasant idea. Now in Utah there is a law that prohibits plural marriages.
The stereotype does not really change, but the situation does change. The traditional family doesn?t change in people?s minds. Over the years situations have come about that are slowly being accepted into society. This situation is when parents get divorced and their families are separated. One parent can receive sole custody of their children or both parents can share custody. Here another stereotype comes alive. It is that a mother can be a better parent to her kids; she has that ?maternal? instinct and ability to get involved with her children. Whereas the father does not associate as well with the children as the mother does. That is definitely a stereotype. Some fathers are better parents than the mother, and it can be the opposite. It always depends on the individual. Why does society label this situation as unstable and that is no family?
The question of who defines what family is has become a social issue because of the large amount of definitions. Every person and culture has a certain image in their mind that shows what they think family is. So the answer to who should decide what a family is should be is every single person. People know what they want, and every single person wants something different. That is why there is no family that is alike. No one family has really anything in common with another family. And this is the main reason why people should decide what the meaning of family is. Not one person should decide what the term family should be. It is like a kid who grows up with a stepfather but calls him Dad. The reason for this is the stepfather has acted like a real father.
There is an issue between what people see as a family and the legal definition of family. A family can be made between three situations. One situation is through marriage. Another is being born into a family and lastly is a person who is adopted into a family. In reality a family is what you make out of it. That is why the people should be the ones to define a family. No law should be able to tell you what a family truly is. The definition has to be developed by the people whose lives it affects.