Before you even begin to read this article, I want you to ask yourself the following question, “What is the purpose of Family?” You could spend 10 minutes or 10 days thinking about this question. If you’d like to share your answer to this question I invite you to do so in the comments section. I’ll post my answer as the first comment. Now, on to the article. I Googled “what’s the purpose of family” and the first eight results were religious based organizations quoting scripture or original articles from websites in which scripture was cited. While my search results gave many similar versions of the same basic view of the purpose of the family, I’m more interested in how my fellow Americans view the function and purpose of today’s modern family. We are a diverse people with many different traditions, so the answers should be interesting to say the least. Let’s broaden our view.
In America in the year 2016, the family is generally considered the social institution that we spend much of our lives being connected to. In a GOP debate in February, Marco Rubio stated, “…the family is the most important institution in society.” We tend to think that, at least traditionally, families are created by marriage, birth, or adoption. And when I say adoption I don’t just mean adopting a child. Families across the U.S. are constantly growing by adopting non-blood relatives as brothers, sisters, adoptive grandparents, fathers and mothers. Many cultures exist that consider deep friendships to be as close as blood relatives.
With the holiday season quickly approaching it is a good time to do a little refresher on how to handle the stressors that sometimes arise for people during this time of year. Whether you are hosting family at your house, traveling to the home of a family member, or unable to travel to be with family due to distance, finances, or any other reason, it can be a very chaotic time of year. While the holidays are often full of happiness, cheer, and good intentions, they can sometimes also be accompanied by less invited feelings that are not always easy to deal with. I hope that this post may give you a few tools to carry with you if things start to get stressful or overwhelming.
If you are traveling out of town or just down the street to another person’s home there are unique benefits and stressors to this. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up or straightening up your home before people come and after people go. Most likely you aren’t expected to cook the whole meal or provide the entertainment for the guests. However, you do have to drive, fly, or get to your location by some other means of transportation. For some people being away from home can produce anxiety because home is comforting. Maybe you have the added stress on your wallet. In other cases, it could be hard to decide where you will be traveling to because of extended family or you may be traveling to multiple places and seeing multiple families.
Robin S. Smith is a psychotherapist practicing in Bethesda, MD. Robin created The Couple and Family Clinic Blog to provide useful articles on issues related to mental health as well as articles on local, national, and international news stories. Learn more about Robin on the About Page.