Sunday, January 22, 2012

What defines a family?

I've been pondering this question for a while now. It's no secret that anyone's sexual preferences isn't an issue for me. I don't really care either way if you are gay, bi or straight. It's what and who you are as a person that matters most to me. Sexual orientation has no bearing on what you are as a person either so to me it's a moot point.

Which brings me to this - What defines a family? Religion? Government? Humanity?

A definition at the online dictionary site Free Dictionary :

fam·i·ly (fm-l, fml)
n. pl. fam·i·lies
a. A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.
b. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.
2. All the members of a household under one roof.
3. A group of persons sharing common ancestry. See Usage Note at collective noun.
4. Lineage, especially distinguished lineage.
5. A locally independent organized crime unit, as of the Cosa Nostra.
a. A group of like things; a class.
b. A group of individuals derived from a common stock: the family of human beings.
7. Biology A taxonomic category of related organisms ranking below an order and above a genus. A family usually consists of several genera. See Table at taxonomy.
8. Linguistics A group of languages descended from the same parent language, such as the Indo-European language family.
9. Mathematics A set of functions or surfaces that can be generated by varying the parameters of a general equation.
10. Chemistry A group of elements with similar chemical properties.
11. Chemistry A vertical column in the periodic table of elements.
1. Of or having to do with a family: family problems.
2. Being suitable for a family: family movies.

The one that concerns this blog post is :

a. A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.
b. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.

Nowhere in the text above does it say what gender the parents are.

Does it truly matter what gender parents are when it comes to raising a child? Does my defined female body parts matter more or less than my partner's male parts when it comes to instructing our children and teaching them how to live their lives? Does my gender come into play when I teach my children right from wrong, ethics, morals? A sound basic start to life? Does my partner's?

If two parents have breasts and a vagina each, are they less equipped to teach those same things to their children? Does it matter that a child's two parents have penises and no vaginas or breasts in sight?

Does it matter in the greater scheme of things that some families are different? That their dynamics are not conventional? Is being gay or bisexual a moral sin that we should be outraged to find in our normal suburban lives? Or is it just another facet of the human race?

For me, personally, no. None of it matters. Rather, I'd look to the children in such families and ask are the children happy? Is their home filled with love? Is their home filled with peace and happiness? Are they being nurtured? Raised with a decent set of values that sees the best in human beings? If the answer to any of these questions is no then I'd have a serious problem with you raising children whether you are straight, gay or bi.

Being different (whether it is your sexual orientation, your skin colour, your nationality) isn't a disease. It isn't something that a gay or bi parent passes on to their children any more than being straight is. For all of us it's just a way of life. Why then must outsiders feel the necessity to interfere, to want to deny them the right to parent simply because they fear Teh Gay?

We (mostly) teach our children that skin colour doesn't matter. Why then do we insist on teaching them that being gay and loving someone who is the same sex is abhorrent, one of the greatest sins anyone could commit? We insist that teaching tolerance and acceptance of anyone that is different is how we should be raising our children yet at the same time many of us teach those same children it is ok to discriminate against those whose sexual preferences are outside the norm. How confusing for the child. Accept people for being different except if they are gay or bi. That teaches them nothing. It resolves nothing. Except sows confusion.

I saw this article in Rolling Stone yesterday after it was posted on Facebook. Read it. Then dare tell me that we are doing the right thing by stigmatising anyone who is different.

ONE TOWN'S WAR ON GAY TEENS A school district rocked by suicides of young teens, where teachers have no idea how to enforce blatantly anti-gay policies, where children are denied the right to just be, to explore themselves, figure out who and what they are, where other children are taught that it is ok to physically, mentally and verbally abuse those who are seen as different, where the adults in the situation stand back and ignore the shamefully hurtful things normal teenagers do to those who do not fit into the nice neat square box.

I dare you to read it without feeling anything. I dare you.


Sarah Bollman said...

Interesting blog post to pull up as I'm getting read to send off our adoption paperwork. :) This was a common theme throughout as well - define your family - what makes a family real, etc...

We'll be facing these questions as we are open to race and cultural background. Very interesting to read and think about C - thanks!

Claudine said...

Good luck with that Sarah!