I fully support the idea that the family is the fundamental unit of society and that societies can’t be stronger than the families within them. While agreeing with that sentiment I find it interesting that whether is is expressed by the First Lady of Uganda or published by the World Congress of Families (WCF) nobody seems to give a straightforward definition of what they consider to be the boundaries of the family unit. The closest I can find to a definition is from the Madrid Declaration of WCF:
We affirm the natural family to be the union of a man and a woman through marriage…
While I agree that the foundation of a whole and healthy family must be the union of a man and a woman through marriage I do not believe that fully encompasses the fundamental unit which defines the strength of societies and nations. I also strongly suspect that the WCF does not mean to limit the definition of family to that one statement.
Families Span Generations
It seems to me that a complete view of the fundamental unit of society would emphasize the idea that families are continuous through time – that the fundamental unit is not simply a man and woman joined in marriage, but also includes the members of the preceding and succeeding generations with whom they are connected. Thus the family is not simply an iron ring, but is actually a link in a chain which is how it is able to be the bedrock of a civil society. When I think of a holistic approach to building families I am considering an exploration not only of how to build a happy home for Dad, Mom, and the kids in a household, but also how to build and strengthen the bonds between generations.
Families and Communities are Symbiotic
Likewise, a full understanding of how to build maximum strength in these fundamental units of society would have to recognize that families do not exist in a vacuum – part of their strength or weakness is derived by the society in which they live and their connections to other family units. Attempts to strengthen families must consider the needs and capacities of individuals, households, and communities in order to be effective.
Attacks on Family
Like the definition of family, our consideration of the forces that work to weaken or destroy family must be broader than what we may initially consider. It may be easy to think only of attacks aimed at households or at marriage relationships when we consider the forces arrayed against families but if we are to successfully defend this fundamental unit we must recognize that anything which weakens individuals, households, communities, or generations connected to a given family are all attacks on that family.
I am looking for individuals and organizations which are seeking to strengthen individuals, households, communities, and generations or fighting those things which weaken individuals, households, communities, or generations. I plan to share what I find in my exploration and invite others to join me in my quest.