• The New Nuclear: the idea of the nuclear family, that being mum, dad and two-point something kids living together, is being stretched and redrawn.
• Beyond Kin: more and more, people’s definition of family extends beyond kin to include kith, i.e. non-blood relatives, friends and even pets.
• The Waiting Game: the number of older mums and older dads is on the rise, as are ‘klingons’; post-teens not flying the nest as they did in previous generations.
• Blended Families: increasingly family means ‘blended’ arrangements that see multiple connections, multiple parental figures and multiple home locations. This is in addition to well-documented changes such as the rise of single and LGBT parents.
• Staying Connected: families are finding new ways of using technologies to connect more frequently and on an emotional level, both when they live nearby or far way”.
You can read more of Matalan’s research here
I didn’t have the ‘traditional’ family growing up. My parents separated when I was around 18 months old. My Mum won custody of me and brought me up. Single parents were not very common in the 80’s and I remember the teachers utterly confused that not only did I not have the same last name as my Mum, she wasn’t married either.
From a young age, I was brought up to believe that family are not just those you are related to. I have many ‘beyond kin’ family members.
When it was just me and my Mum, we lived in a maisonette. Below us lived Auntie Sue, Uncle Tom and my cousin Charlene. Sue and my Mum were best friends. So I spent a lot of time with them. For 25 years I have called Sue ‘Auntie Sue’ and I suspect I always will.
Dave’s family instantly welcomed me in to their family. Dave’s Mum will always be ‘Nanny Pauline’ to me, she even has my initials tattooed on her arm. I class Dave’s sister Trish as my Auntie and her children are my cousins.
I get called Auntie Laura by my best friends two children and she is Auntie Sinead to my children.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for me with regards to family. In my late teens I was finding out that my definition of family was not other family members definition. I had one member of my family talking nastily about my Mum to me. I immediately cut her out of my life. I haven’t spoken to her in over 12 years.
Now I am an adult and a mother, family is more important to me than ever. Matt & I have every intention of providing a home for our children that consists of both parents. But whatever happens our children will always have loving parents and a loving family. Matt & I are very specific of what family means to us. We have cut several members of family out from our lives as we don’t want or need them around our children. We don’t want family members in our lives who bring unnecessary drama or only decide to play a part in our lives when they can be bothered. Matt and I have created a close knit family unit for our children and ourselves and it is lovely.
Family to us is not only those who are blood related, it is about those who care and are there for us and vice versa.
What does family mean to you?