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Free Example of Defining a Family Essay

Family is one of the most complex words that I always lack terms to define. It has been defined by scholars as a social institution that has a binding effect whether through blood, marriage or social norms. The above definition is what makes me wonder the real definition of a family or rather which criteria to use to classify someone as a part of my family whether it is the blood, law or marriage or any other social norms.

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What Are the Norms that Govern Family Composition?

These are the norms that govern who is permitted to get married, the number of spouses one is required to have, how one can trace his descendants and the connection between the paternal and maternal relatives. In terms of the number of marriage partners one should have, in some cultures monogamy is practiced whereby a family consists of only one husband and one wife. On the other hand, there exists polygamy when a person is allowed to have many spouses at a time. There are norms that govern the choice of a partner whether it is arranged, romantic, endogamy or exogamy. Other norms dictate the family type whether it is nuclear, single parent or extended. All these norms determine a certain type of a family setting which an individual can identify himself or herself with.

As I grew up, I realized that people of the same blood are not the only family one can have and it  made me look at a family from various dimensions.

What Are the Family Dimensions One Can Look at?

First and foremost, there is a kinship whereby a family consists of individuals with the same blood, in marriage and adoption. Secondly, there are ideal members; they can couple through a voluntary union especially in a marriage whereby two people come together and start a family. Lastly, there is the legal recognition whereby the law can recognize a certain type of union as a family setting such as domestic partnerships and civil unions.

I am puzzled just like many people by what exactly constitutes a family. The social scientists try to explain it by putting in place the functions of a family that include regulating sexual behavior, replacing members of the society who have died, provision of emotional and physical support as well as socializing the young.

Family is a great thing to have in one’s life, but in my time I have come to realize that not all families perform the social functions they are meant to . Not all family members care about and support each other as they are expected to and it always raises questions in my head whether family life has a conflicting view. Your guess is as good as mine; besides, it is upon an individual to try and have some relationship with the people he or she terms a family.

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