Today’s families may look quite different than families that have been popularized in television shows of the 1950s and 60s. They were usually quaint and lovely models of a strong nuclear family consisting of a homemaker wife, a hardworking successful father, and obedient children who may get in a little mischief, but could be solved within a 30-minute episode. Those images were merely an ideal even then, but now they seem a thousand light years away from the current reality of most families.
Families of the 21st Century come in all shapes and sizes.
Families of the 21st Century come in all shapes and sizes with explosive divorce rates, remarriage, blended families, same sex marriages, acceptability of parenting out-of-wedlock, generational poverty and a host of other variables have turned the “ideal” nuclear families into the exception rather than the norm. Yes, there has been some changes, and we have new realities but the role of the family is the same.
What has not changed is that families are where we learn about love, responsibility, collaboration, and respect. We learn all these things and more at home but all are constantly challenged outside the home. Parents oftentimes find themselves at a loss at how to reinforce their values and support their children as they confront a world that is becoming much different than the one they may have faced.
Many families are isolated. Extended families are being lost for many reasons as we have become a more transient society to follow opportunities for a better life. As a result, too many of us have lost our sense of community. Our neighbors today are essentially strangers.
Family educators and coaches are well suited to help parents meet the changing demands of family life.
While in some cases counseling and therapy may be necessary, generally speaking, most people are in just in need of resources that will assist them in major transitions, to balance work and family, and support them as they move forward with their decisions. Family educators and coaches are well suited to help parents meet the changing demands of family life. An effective family coach supports parents in aligning their personal goals with their values and priorities and can be invaluable in helping them translate them to their children.
When all is said and done, family, no matter its composition, can be vital to our mental and physical health. It is a framework for resilience and provides a sense of belonging and self-worth that we carry into all other relationships. A picture-perfect family may be a TV fantasy but we all need to create or find a family that will allow us to grow and be the very best we can be. It’s possible. We deserve it.