My family has changed a lot over the last 6-7 years. For a long time we were six. Two parents, and four kids. Then our older boys went to college, and our home had five, then four people. Then those boys got married. Though they left the house and started families with our daughter-in-laws, and now there were only four in our house, we felt like our family grew to become eight. This past fall, our grandson was born, and now we are nine. In one month our third son moves to college, though, and our house will only have three. The days of the so-called empty nest are nearly here for Michelle and me. And yet our family is bigger than ever.
In recent decades social observers have claimed that family is being redefined. What is family? Who is in your family? Think about your immediate family, your spouse and your kids. Or your parents and your siblings. An immediate family is defined differently depending on your station in life. Family includes adopted persons, guardianships, step-parents, step-siblings, and perhaps other people that live in your home. Family could also include special friends who are closer to you than your biological or legal family.
Now think about your extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, grandkids, nieces, nephews. Some people have family reunions that include hundreds of people. My mom’s extended family used to get together every Christmas Eve, and I looked forward to seeing my cousins every year, and of course open gifts. But as the family grew, and as my grandparents passed away, that gathering didn’t happen one year, nor the next, and it hasn’t happened since. This past spring one of my uncles passed away suddenly, and my siblings and cousins attended. At the reception, we talked about having a family reunion.
How important is it to have family reunions? It is not wrong to have reunions, but it also is not wrong not to have them. How much do we need to push for family relationships? Is it okay if a family grows distant? Some families are close and some are not. Some families have healthy relationships, and some are unhealthy. I’m sure you can think of organizations, both faith-based and non-religious, that strive to help people have healthy families.
How are your relationships with your family? Are you close with your parents, your siblings, your children? What kind of a grandparent are you? As we continue our series on relationships, this week we are talking about families. What does the Bible have to say about having healthy family relationships?