Roots of the Family Tree
Family structures and the behavior of family members in general, are conditioned largely by structural influences rather than biology, psychology, or even culture. The traditional or “normal” family is anchored in a male-dominated, white, middle-class assumption about society where male-breadwinners and female homemakers are dominant. By challenging and transcending this unrealistic concept of the family, the dimensions of social class, gender, and race/ethnicity, the meaning of a happy family will become self-evident. In today’s society, a happy family would be difficult to define and this can attest to the reason why no two people would define a happy family. However, the difference is only in the words used, but the core significance remains invariable.
Looking at the source of the word itself, the simplest and earliest of definitions comes to light. The word family comes from the Latin word familia; in the meaning of household, it indicates a group of individuals living under one roof and under one head. By examining the roots of the word, one can see the rudimentary understanding and image of the typical family as defined by early society. The contemporary meaning of family had remained relatively constant as a parallel to the definition of the word in a language that has been considered dead for lifetimes, but why? Only recently in the lifespan of society, have we begun to question the meaning of a happy family and truly begin to redefine it altogether. Manny Feldman once stated, “A family is made of branches that grow in different directions that are held together by the root.” This root—the very thing that holds a family together—is also the very thing that defines a happy family. This root is respect.
The idea of a happy family is often misconstrued and the image of perfect and happy family is misconstrued. When pondering on an example of a happy family, one cannot help but to feel a sense of nostalgia; this nostalgia...