Modern Family: The Progressive Family Structure

S ociologists, historians, anthropologists and economists have all opined on the role of the Nuclear Family in society (especially Western societies).  Not without controversy, the idea that the ideal basic building block of society is one man + one woman + their children has been prevalent since at least the late Nineteenth Century. The main controversy in social history is whether the nuclear family is a response to industrialization or a prime supporting condition for industrial society. The Extended Family (sometimes called Kinship family) structure where multiple adult relatives (e.g., grandparents living with one of their children’s family) live together is the most commonly observed alternative (especially from the historical point of view where the interconnections of tribe and kinship were tightly interwoven across families).

Why is “immediate” family structure so important? Well, the lines that define the family unit also typically define the borders of deep financial entanglement, procreation, primary sources of emotional support and child-rearing, etc. Or as sociologist James Henslin (Essentials of Sociology) states, the core functions of the family include “economic production, socialization of children, care of the sick and aged, recreation, sexual control and reproduction.” The nuclear family has been presumed ideal family structure in Western society during the modern era. However, signs of a growing need and willingness to experiment with different family structures are replete in contemporary society (from platonic life partners to a variety of polyamorous families). (more…)

Lessons on relationships I learned racing sports cars

In sports car racing, there are times when your intuition fails you.  This issue is greatly compounded during the fast-moving and confusing situation of a near or actual crash.  I’ve been reflecting on relationship dynamics tonight and their similarity to race car dynamics.  This is especially poignant as tonight it appears that one of my relationships is crashing and burning…

Racing Lesson #1

When you lose control and leave the track, your instincts might be to slam on the brakes.  Instead, you should keep steady and begin to slow down gradually.  Major deceleration will upset the car when on an uneven surface and will likely result in a full-scale spinout.

Relationship application: This strategy initially worked very well.  Slowed things down a bit.  Had lots of conversations about the foundation.   Along the way, we uncovered miscommunications that resulted in resentment.  We worked on our ability to communicate difficult things with less acrimony.  We were even able to accelerate once we got back on track. (more…)

A Response to Fear and Loving in an Uncertain World

From Fear and Loving in an Uncertain World:

“My fears may be realized. It is something I cannot predict.  I know, however, that my best chance at joy lies in giving love without letting the fear that it won’t be returned close me off.  My major task in an uncertain world is feeling and giving the fullest measure of love I can manage.  I actively cultivate this style of loving and aim to get better at it every day.”

Response: I’m undecided on this… I understand what you’re saying… but without expecting that return, you can allow others to take you for granted…

Mind Crush:  Yes, we’ve had this discussion before.  We can’t confuse loving with pleasing or consistently elevating someone else’s needs over our own.  Seeing our needs as equal and managing the ways in which they may conflict in an active way is an important relationship skill (for all our relationships not just romantic ones).  We have to know how to hold our needs as equal to others’ yet respond out of love and not out of fear that our needs may not be met or resentment that they have gone unmet.

What does “loving without the fear that it won’t be returned” really mean?  Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t mean.  It does not mean that I will do whatever you want; it does not mean that my job is to satisfy you at the expense of self-care.  I don’t think it has anything to do with being a doormat.  And so, you can only continue to take advantage of me if I allow it (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…).  I would argue that the most loving thing you can do for someone is never ever to let them take advantage of you or any one else.  To know this, you must understand that taking advantage of people hurts them too (even if they don’t care about the ways in which it hurts them).   (more…)