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The Forum > Article Comments > Family is where the heart is > Comments

Family is where the heart is : Comments

By Collin Mullane, published 13/12/2004

Collin Mullane argues that a family can be anything we want it to be as long as there is love.

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Two people don't make a family. Two people are a couple. A couple may be part of a larger family, but they are not a family unto themselves. I know it seems old fashioned, unenlightened, coldly conservative, maybe even ignorant, but where, at anytime or any place amongst any people in history have 2 people been acknowledged as a family? A single parent and child, or two people related by blood are the only examples I can think of.

Maybe the days of the hills hoist and the quarter acre have gone, but the rest of it is still the overwhelming norm. You really should get out more Collin.

And as for people staying in "loveless" marriages for the sake of the kids... Why get married if not to have a family? What better reason to stay in a marriage? As long as there's no violence or abuse what else are you going to do? Move on to another marriage that will inevitably become as "loveless" as the first? It all seems rather selfish to me.

My own parents hated each others guts! While there was no violence or abuse or anything nasty, they fought like cats and dogs every day. I hated it! But I hated it much more when one of them threatened to leave. They've recently celebrated 45 years in a "loveless" marriage and still fight like cats & dogs.
Just a couple of other points:

It wasn't the conservatives who "unjustly pulled apart indigenous families". That was the "enlightened" work of the do-gooders and social engineers of the time.

Once again my ignorance may be showing, but I know of no society where friends have been considered family.

If two people together, want to see themselves as a family that's great, I'd be the last to dictate to people how they should feel. I see myself as wise & charming. Unfortunately, that does not make it so.
Posted by Cranky, Tuesday, 14 December 2004 1:03:39 AM
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Good work Cranky. I agree.
Posted by ruby, Tuesday, 14 December 2004 12:31:17 PM
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Two people don't make a family, Cranky?
So a single parent and a child aren't a family?
When children grow up and leave home, do their parents cease to be a family?
If a parent or the only child dies, are the two grieving surivors not a family?

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies report, the "traditional" nuclear family (mum, dad, dependent children) is a minority of households, having gone down by 20 percent in the last 30 years. How then do you come to the conclusion that it is the "overwhelming norm"?

Now I wouldn't be so arrogant and rude as to suggest you get out a bit more, but perhaps you should see check to see if your own view (which sadly seems to have been warped by your own parents' dysfunctional relationship) is actually supported by the facts.
Posted by Paul Benson, Wednesday, 15 December 2004 3:11:59 AM
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Cranky asks why get married if not to have a family? Maybe because people love each other and they regard marriage as an expression of their love.

On a different take, I'd like to defend childless people (partly because I'm happily childless). Here's a zoological analogy. If a group of rabbits breed too much and way out of proportion to their resources they all die. Not just the non-breeding ones. Everybody dies.

Childless heterosexuals and probably most homosexuals are the ones putting the brakes on the breeding process. This is as necessary as reproduction. Too much reproduction = too much strain on resources. Or to use a automotive analogy, you need the brakes as much as the accelerator. Indeed, if it wasn't natural for some humans to choose not to reproduce, there would be no choice in the matter. Everybody would breed instinctively. But human society is different. Unlike the rest of the animal world human society contains couples or singles who are happily childless and make a conscious decision regarding their situation.
Posted by DavidJS, Wednesday, 15 December 2004 9:44:01 AM
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Paul, If you want to quote facts then let us both try to get them right.
If anyone is interested please go to the Australian Institute of Family Studies website and have a look at the facts. You can find the site at www.aifs.gov.au By the way, I actually mentioned the fact that a single parent and child do make up a family. When mum and dad are left at home after the kids leave they are part of a family but they are not a family unto themselves. If the only child of a couple dies then as harsh as it sounds they are no longer a family in the traditional meaning of the word.
Thanks Paul for not being arrogant and rude but I happen to get out a fair bit thanks very much.
God bless dysfunctional families; we've all got them!
Posted by Cranky, Wednesday, 15 December 2004 1:13:00 PM
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At the end of the day, petty arguments and rudeness aside, I stand by my conclusion that "family" is a celebration of life that cannot be defined by narrow constraints through religious doctrine, legislation or genetic coding. Instead it must by malleable and defined from within.

We don't fit ourselves into the shape of a normative family box - we make our family boundaries fit the needs of those within.

Last Week's feature articles included wise words from Maggie Walter. She concluded that "You donít have a family; you be a family".
Posted by Collin Mullane, Wednesday, 15 December 2004 4:41:54 PM
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