When first considering answering this complex question, one has to ask what family is. In one of my classes one definition was that a family is a special kind of system; pattern with structure and properties that organize stability and change. Families are made up of patterns that are recurrent and predictable interactions. The definition in my opinion leans towards the MFSB traditional view of what a family is and should be: mother, father, sister, and brother. As I look at the current status of families in the US, the traditional definition and ideal family no longer exist in the same context as they did in the past. Along with the MFSB family there are also blended families, reconstructed families, those who co-habitat, open, and group marriages. There are single parent households, same sex parent homes, grandparents raising grandchildren, and the system raising children, these are by no means traditional family patterns but mirror the current patterns in our society.
I am raising my daughter on my own. She resides with me, but also spends time with her Father. I gave birth to my daughter as a teenager, which statistically makes me more prone to more negatives than positives when looking at the bigger picture. But, what I would consider failure in our family system is if my daughter was to go without, if I couldn’t parent her the way I intend too: with manners and values and kindness. Failure would be a system that didn’t support or honor my hard work as a single parent and didn’t offer me the same kind of services as 2 parent households. Though I wouldn’t consider failure to be extended members of my family stepping in to help parent my daughter. As a single parent, living solo, attending school, active in volunteering and raising a 4 year old, stress and juggling gets to be extremely difficult. And having a family system to depend on only makes me stronger as a parent and woman.
Is the family doomed? Depends on who you ask. Ask me, and I say that we as a society need to come together and reexamine our own beliefs and realize that society is much more than the image we have in our heads. We need to recommit to establishing a solid foundation for all family systems regardless of race, age, gender, or sexual orientation. We need to recommit to our children. And we need to recommit to ourselves. With the proper guidance and support, families are not doomed; however the path to a stronger system will not be easy. But, you have to fight for what you want, right?