My Family Care asks Ben: What does a family unit mean in today's society? What does family mean to you?
Family. Rodzina. Parivāra.
The word family in three different languages. Each of these languages represents the top 3 spoken in the UK (English, Polish and Punjabi). Though, however you say it, no matter what nationality, religion, background or language you speak, family is at the core of our being and purpose in life.
We might all think of family in different ways - considering different people within the social structure as 'family' - but in the end, we are all part of one in one way or another. We are lucky in the UK to have such a breadth and wealth of diversity of people that call these islands home, each contributing their own unique take on what family means to them.
We are also lucky that we have the legal and liberal backing, to be able to openly live in (what would often be considered as) non-traditional family units. Be this in an LGBT sense or a cultural sense.
All trying to live and love together.
The then and the now
You often hear that the family unit, the nucleus of society, has dissolved and lost its way in modern times. No longer are monogamous and heterosexual relationships the backbone to a stable and happy society. I think we all know, that in reality, the changes in the way families are formed rightly reflect the changes in our wider society.
Family units in modern day British society look very different to that from the decades past. Gone is the patriarchal father at the head of the family, the bread winner and the lord of his castle - well, in most cases at least. In its place, the family unit is flipped on its head, and twisted every which way, with mothers going back to work to earn for the family and fathers taking responsibility for their brood.
Some families share the same blood and others don't. Some families have two fathers or two mothers and others don't. Some have one father or one mother. Some may be closer together and others may be spread all around the world.
There are also wider societal changes, with a growing number of elderly in our country; the state and our ability to provide affordable care for the elderly not keeping pace. This has meant that families are increasingly having to shoulder the burden. This is also equally true for the younger generation, with grandparents looking after their grandchildren because parents can no longer afford the childcare costs. This is, though, what families do best, coming together to support one another.
All living and loving together.
A support network and much more
Although, from the outside, my family may be your a-typical boy, girl, mother and father scenario, you only have to dig a little deeper to see that this isn't the case. I myself am gay, with aspirations of having my own family and a husband.
I have family that live all across the world. I have family that is made up of step family, family friends who have always been referred to as aunty or uncle, and even my best friends who are considered part of the family and vice versa - a BBQ last weekend with my housemate and best mate of 15 years, with his family and my family, is testament to this!
I know for me, personally, family is something that is really important; they are there to pick me up when I fall down, to help me celebrate and rejoice in my successes and to coach and guide me when life throws a curve ball my way. Sharing their knowledge and their resources to help me be the best that I can be.
It's like they made an unwritten rule the day I was born, to protect and watch over me; each of the generations handing the metaphorical baton on to the next, as each passes.
All having lived and loved together.
Family is where the heart is
To me, a family is a bit like a home. It's not where the family is or what the family structure is made up of, but it's the binding love and care that each person exhibits to one another, selfless and unconditional in every way; this is what a family unit means in modern day society, in all its glorious forms. Love. Miłość. Pasada hai.
Ben, PwC Communications Consultant