In all fairness to society, many people do not even acknowledge or realize the existence of such a term, much less understand its meaning or necessity. As a result, the definition of the word "family" has a varied meaning across ranges of ethnicity, generations (age), life-style, religious, political, and many other cultural distinctions. Yet its failure or deficiency, as well as our ignorance of the psychological victimization we are subject to is the most costly of any endeavor we undertake as a culture. As such, I believe a great place to begin what will be a series discussions designed to empower your family legacy is by defining family and the hindrances to its successful existence.
What is Family?
The actual definition of the word 'family' has not changed in centuries. It is even more commendable the definition of family in the American Dictionary of the English Language (written in the year 1828) with a heavy emphasis on Christian values:
a. The collective body of persons who live in one house and under one head or manager; a household, including parents, children and servants, and as the case may be, lodgers or boarders.
b. Those who descend from one common progenitor; a tribe or race; kindred; lineage. Thus the Israelites were a branch of the family of Abraham; and the descendants of Reuben, of Manasseh, were called their families. The whole human race are the family of Adam, the human family.
However, which communication medium has done the most to define the word family over the last few generations and decades? In my humble opinion, nothing has done more for the changed definition of family on the culture and society than the television. We are a visually stimulated people, and it is no doubt that the eyes are the gateway to the heart, through our emotions. Walk with me on a short journey of the power of television just through my brief lifetime.
Gradual Change in Defining Family
When it comes to the definition of family by television beginning in the '60s, there were family programs like The Andy Griffith Show, or Family Affair. Although I do not claim any of my references were perfect castings of family, Family Affair for example embraced the context of healthy family, even by its title. It portrayed the embrace of necessary responsibility selflessly by a fun loving bachelor for the benefit of children (nieces and nephew). Forward on to the '70s and you have urban pleasures and delights such as Good Times, a true testament of family and community despite incredible adversity where familial love always wins out. Even the family television programs which were birthed from the negativity of the culture such as The Brady Bunch managed to remarkably portray traits that edified the family structure. Furthermore, it encouraged those struggling through blended family situations to take courage and stay the course. The show's creator Sherwood Schwartz came up with the idea when he heard some 20% - 30% of all families had at least one child from a previous marriage.
I should note however that these family friendly sitcoms did a tremendous job (not perfect) of not portraying or endorsing affairs, jealousy, in-fighting and other destructive familial behaviors although they existed in the culture without a doubt. It would seem those important cultural and challenging family adversities were significant enough to allow specific professionals to tackle them for the health rather than destruction of society.
In the late '70s and '80s came a string of family dramas like Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crests, Knots Landing, and others which began to display and entice our visual stimulative souls with the lures of affairs, in-fighting, misuse of wealth and power at all cost, and more. That era of family television practically endorsed it is okay to outmaneuver and swindle others vindictively without remorse. And guess what, we bought-in greatly as a culture. Although sitcoms like The Cosby Show fought hard to maintain the homogeneous and effective family definition from generations prior, shows like Three's A Crowd began to project a dad who refuses to allow his daughter's cohabitation with a young man as outrageous. Take into consideration also the new influx of the liberal and right-wing debate on other shows like Family Ties.
The '90s and 2000s, riding on the wave of cultural breakdown we have previously described, brought a "rush for a free pass at the box office" by introducing what we today term as the MTV culture. It is a rush for accepting public display of ridiculous and unimaginably bad family behavior. This was surely evident by the many late night adult programming (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc) allowed on public airwaves. In addition, a string of talk shows like The Jerry Springer Show, Maury, Montel Williams, casting individuals with no recognition or desire to privately address destructive personal family matters arose for the sake of prime time ratings. We, as a culture, were by this point addicted to the modeling of bad family behavior on public television. Add to that a string of animated (Family Guy, The Simpsons, and more) and live-body sitcoms which took on a design to regularly portray men and fathers as unproductive idiots who do not know how to manage their spousal relationships much less their responsibilities as head of home and family. These men (boys in extended adolescence) would prefer to entertain everything else that selfishly entices them. By the way, I have not yet touched the tip of this iceberg and have only been speaking about the power of television as a source of the culture's current definition of family. Much more can be said about other mediums such as the gaming industry (online, gambling, video, professional sports, etc) and more.
Victimized by Psychology
Now television chooses to portray cultural hits like Modern Family (note the title) as an absolute redefinition of family. At its inception we find endorsements from established community media outlets like The Michigan Daily stating "Modern Family is a dysfunctional domestic sitcom done right". Folks, last I checked there is nothing right about dysfunction; deviating from the norms of social behavior in a way regarded as bad. Examples of dysfunction portrayed as right is when a sitcom like Modern Family chooses to portray (jamming; a deviant psychological tactic) the union of a homosexual couple, and their adoption of a young child as the circle of life, while deliberately singling out (see video here) the one person who opposes. Due to his (opposition's) visually awkward moment (all but him gathered around baby and couple) he succumbs to the pressure and accepts their dysfunctional behavior. Without realizing it, that leaves you and I with an affinity to accept that bad behavior (visual and psychological stimulation) as a new definition for our concept of family.
The reality is that a homosexual family will never advance the circle of life no matter how beautifully artistic it is portrayed on Modern Family and other such television programs. They will only propagate an embrace of death to us as a people, culture, and mankind. Why do I say that? Heterosexuality is designed by The Creator for the propagation of life through child birth. It does not matter how many children homosexuals adopt for humanitarian appearance and cultural acceptance or equality with heterosexual couples, when it comes to promoting family legacy and a legacy of life, their own design and choices defeat their agenda. The propagation of the homosexual lifestyle through their adopted children eventually leads to the extinction of their lineage. The union of homosexuals can never naturally produce life as such it is unquestionably dysfunctional and bad social behavior; not good for the family life they want to claim. Homosexuality becomes nothing but a personal selfish choice of individuals rather than the twisted humanity Modern Family and others try so hard to portray. In short, be aware and stop allowing yourself to be 'jammed'.
Surely, the long established definition of family has never changed. However, the imposition of our flawed desires for sinful and destructive behaviors, which tear at the foundations of a healthy and life giving family structure has changed. Therefore we are paying the costly price.
Beginning today and for the next several weeks and months to come we will be tackling the question, "What is family legacy?" The goal ultimately is to define and provide for you relevant and specific strategies. Topics like significance, purpose, functionality, difficulties, failures, successes, implementation, propagation, and more will be discussed concerning successful family legacy.
As we begin these series of discussions on family legacy via this blog and more, I would love to hear your comments on a few questions (5) regarding what we have discussed today. Here they are and feel free to choose any or all to respond to:
- What makes the current culture destructive and complex for the family?
- What factors are contributing to the complexities of raising a family in today's environment?
- Which aspects of the culture represent your greatest challenges to leaving a healthy family legacy?
- How have these factors affected your ability to succeed at the task?
- What do we need to manage theses challenges?