As I sit here watching TLC’s “Sister Wives” (Har, Har, Leigh and Becky), I feel a strong desire to talk about my personal definition of family. Happily, America’s perception of what a “normal” family is, is changing – Que, “Modern Family”, one of the biggest shows on tv right now. The idea of this change excites me because I grew up in an unconventional family, which made growing up in a rural Midwestern community, hard at times.
In my small town of what I would venture to guess was (at least at the time, although I really don’t think the percentage has changed too much) 99% white, being the stepdaughter of a black man and the sister of two biracial children, made me very unlike my peers. In fact, I would put money on the fact that not only was my step dad the only black man in our community, but probably the first black man that many of the local people had ever met. Of course the unknown brings along fear and so many times I was reminded that my family’s difference was a bad thing. Like the time when my 9 year old friend told me when I was also just 9 years old, that she wasn’t allowed to come into my house because my step dad was black. Or the time when a very close friend of my now husband, told me that he didn’t believe black people should be allowed to marry white people because their children will be unhappy to never fit in (I think the term he used was outcasts). The word is simply ignorance. Without knowing. My 9 year old friend’s mother and father had never known a black man (of danger or otherwise) and so they were ignorant to judge him by his color. My husband’s friend had never known a biracial family (not to mention a biracial family outside of a white community) and so he was ignorant to judge our feelings as well as our ability to, perhaps, have friends? Luckily, everyone eventually, for the most part, got over it. A few (very few) more minorities moved into town and everyone saw that: 1. My step dad was not going to murder them (nor sleep with all of their white wives) and 2: We all lived just like they did. I have hope that my family opened at least a few eyes to what really matters when it comes to the definition of family, and that skin color is not one of those things. As for the country, it’s obvious that change has happened for the better – remember that it once WAS illegal for blacks to marry whites.
Now on to the gays. Probably because of my “unconventional” upbringing, I have always been 100% in favor of equal rights and gay marriage. Actually, equal rights in marriage because “gay” marriage is/would be the same thing as “straight” marriage. I just can’t bring myself to understand the problem that people have with allowing everyone to be happy. As far as religion is concerned, allowing homosexuals to get married will not change nor damage others’ religious beliefs nor will it impose others’ beliefs on ANYONE. Two men will be married and you will continue to go to church and serve your God and believe whatever you want (even if it’s that gays shouldn’t be married). Two women will be married and you will continue to pray, and teach your children to live like Jesus would (which, may I add, is non judgmentally) and be married to your opposite gender spouse. Marriage is nobody’s business besides the two people who are getting married. As far as the convention of marriage, once again, allowing homosexuals to get married will not change your marriage. It will not change what your marriage means, it will not change the success rate of your marriage (which, may I add is only 50% – and that number has been caused by STRAIGHT marriages!) and it will not allow drunken 18 year olds to go to Vegas on a whim and desecrate the importance of the union of marriage at 3 in the morning. Oh, wait. That already happens. There are some good things that would come out of equal rights for marriage though. First, same gender marriages just may decrease that pesky divorce rate. How you say? The way I see it, they definitely won’t be getting married because somebody got knocked up but instead because they love each other, make each other happy and are prepared for marriage. The absence of accidental procreation also creates a more solid family, in my eyes. Gay couples will ONLY have children if they actually want them! Imagine a world where 50% of all pregnancies weren’t accidental. Where children weren’t neglected or mistreated or born into families that couldn’t afford to support them. Sounds like a happy family huh? We’ve all been witnesses to our country’s collective eyes slowly pulling apart within the past few years so my hope for this one is that my children never think it’s weird if one of their friend’s has two mommies (and not just because his daddy has two baby mamas). As an open family, my 5 year old and 3 year old already understand that some men love men and some women love women and in their opinion, who the hell cares?
Now, if I dare – the Mormons (?). I write this as a question because I’m not sure that I believe Polygamists hail from the Mormon religion. I did a huge project on polygamy for school and know that the Mormon church does not condone Polygamy, although I’m not so fast to deny that it’s for any other reason besides covering their own ass. Before watching the show “Sister Wives” I was completely anti polygamy. From my research for my project, I learned that MANY practicing polygamists are predators practicing in the name of their religion. Young teenage girls are forced to marry much, much older men, against their will. Child abuse is a common thread among this particular community and spousal abuse is as well. But then along came Kody Brown and his family of 4 wives and 16 children. Watching this family interact on national television was my own eye opening. Aside from the fact that yes, he is married to 4 women and yes, has 16 fricking kids, they are totally normal. I’m laughing as I write this because I can only imagine what my readers are thinking of me. My point is this. Kody does not abuse any of his wives or children. His wives have chosen this lifestyle on their own. Kody financially supports all of his family (and not on Welfare to boot!) The overall atmosphere of the family is joy. They are all genuinely happy to have every single family member as part of the family. What really got me was that the wives are just as close with each other, as they are with their husband. Of course there are bouts of jealousy but they tell Kody when he does something wrong. They work together as a family and as a team and are raising very intelligent children who will probably grow up to be 16 valid, contributing members of society. Take away the fact that these points were made with one man and four women and 16 children, and you have a normal family. So, my new P.O.V. when it comes to polygamy is this: If a family is made by everyone’s own free will, no one is being abused but instead, everyone is being cared for and loved, and everyone is of legal age, the components of said family doesn’t matter. I mean come on, how many men legally have multiple children to multiple girlfriends all while being legally married to one woman. The only difference is they don’t all live together and call each other polygamists, so they don’t get arrested. Oh, and their children probably aren’t very happy coming from a broken home. Obviously, I’m not saying that polygamy should become a way of life (God knows that I would NOT live pleasantly while my husband slept with my “sister wives” on a rotating basis, Nor would I live pleasantly while I slept with my husband’s – dare I say – “brother husbands” on a rotating basis and I’m sure most people wouldn’t either) but I really don’t think this family is such a big deal.
Bottom line. America needs to lighten the frick up about defining what makes a family and stop trying to use the government to regulate it. A family is a support system of loved ones who work together to create happiness and health. If the common goal is creating good people or supporting good people, nothing else matters.