Our diversity theme for the month of July is family make-up and structure. Family is an interesting topic to think of, from a diversity point of view. We all come from a family. Some of us came from families that were warm and nurturing and give us warm memories. Some came from families that were at some level dysfunctional (really most of us) and everything in between, but we all come from a family.
In the past society had a very narrow view of what a family looked like and should be. Typically, when I was growing up, this was a married man and women. Single unmarried mothers were, most often, shamed and ostracize. I remember a time when a pregnant student was sent to a special school or at least classroom so their shame and bad behavior couldn’t damage the other youth. Single fathers were unheard of and divorced was not considered an option, at least not until the children were out of the home. Divorced parents were almost always excluded from parent groups, as if not having a partner meant you were somehow inferior.
That reality, thank God, no longer exists, as if it ever existed. Family structures have expanded and changed dramatically over the years. We have single mothers, single fathers, two female parents, two male parents; we have grandparents raising children, and everything in between. In addition, many women are choosing to wait to have children later in life, with or without a partner in the picture. The fact of the matter is, family is and should be self defined by the people in the family. Family is, at its best, a place where people, adults and children, love, care, respect, inspire, comfort and nurtures each other. It is a structure of caring.
Family may also be defined individually not by biology but through social connections. Most of my close family has made their transition but I believe, and I hear this often, the members and staff of Unity of Louisville are my family. Now that Robin has relocated back to Minnesota the congregation of Unity Minneapolis has become my extended family. It is a family of choice not of biology.
I wrote above that we all have a history of being in a family. Some of our memories are good some maybe not as much but when we expand the idea of family beyond the social and biological limits imposed from without we have the power and the right to claim the family that supports us and our lives and growth. No matter the family structure you were raised in or currently live in at Unity of Louisville you are honored and accepted just the way you are.