What does family mean to you? To me, it means a place that gives me warmth. Today the definition of family is up for a rethink. Only a couple and their children don't make a happy family always. We can choose our own family and live happily ever after. The idea of family is not restricted to a particular "acceptable" structure now. There can be variations in our perspective of the institution. Here is what my knowledge of family tells me.
You can be your own family
You are single doesn't mean you are lonely. Enjoying your own company is peaceful. It is also important at the same time. Singlehood helps you understand yourself better. It teaches you to be independent. The societal pressure of "having a family" often becomes unbearable because people are not used to seeing happy singles. But you are not answerable to anyone for your choice. You do you.
Get a pet and now you have a family!
Being a pet parent is an out of the world feeling. Your house is bound to be messed up and you spend your days running behind your pet because they are up to some mischief all the time. They keep you so busy all the time that you are never bored. To be very honest, I can just spend the whole day talking to my pet without even receiving a reply. Lol.
You and your partner are a family
Yes, a couple does form a family and they don't have to be 'legally wedded'. Two people in love who decide to stay together are enough to make a family. I am not referring to only 'straight couples' here. A homosexual couple too can be a family. You just need to have a broad vision to accept that.
Friends are family
Living away from parents in a hostel for higher studies would have been difficult if I didn't find a bunch of good friends. They were the only ones I could call my own as long as I lived in an unknown city. My friends played an important role in changing my idea of family. They helped me understand that it is not just blood relations that make a family.
A single parent and their kids are no less than a family
Raising children as a single parent is a challenging task, specially in a country like ours. The stigma attached to single parenting is tough to deal with. Such parents are constantly judged and criticised. We should rather support all single moms and dads for bringing up their children independently and see them as a family.
We can have a definition of family different from what has been the convention and it's okay.
Staying with your parents is as respectable as becoming a parent yourself and bringing up your children. Both of these cases fall under the definition of 'family'. Why should others decide who we choose as our family members?
By sticking to a specific definition of family, we are giving into society's prescribed relationships. As a progressive society, we can only evolve if we trust and respect different kind of relationships. As someone said, "all families are unique and different and the only thing that binds them is love."
The idea of family is not restricted to a particular "acceptable" structure now. There can be variations in our perspective of the institution.
What is your idea of family? Do you think it is necessary to have a husband and children to start a family? What kind of different families are you in? Let us know your perception.
Views expressed are author's own