Today, “family” doesn’t mean what it did when I was a teen or twentysomething. Like it or not, no matter how you vote, worship, or date, family life in Western cultures is changing. More than 40% of babies in my country are born to unmarried women, and fewer women than ever get married at all. There’s no ignoring the changing American family. Young adults ask new questions when looking for a life’s partner: What gender are you? What gender were you? What’s your family or families’ background? According to the world we live in, “family” has been and is being redefined.
I asked one of my next gen guests to share what they’re thinking about “family” in the world and in faith. Welcome Allison!
Next gen family structure
My generation views life very differently than generations past. One of the aspects of life that I believe is viewed differently is the structure of family. My generation believes that families can be blended, consist of many non-related people, and place less importance on time spent with related members.
The word “family” can have many different meanings. It can be your actual biological family: mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. You can also have your work family, school family, church family, and a close friend group that you call your “family”. The term “family” does not have the same meaning as generations past. In my generation there are more blended families, meaning that there is either a stepmother or a stepfather, and also stepchildren. Although my grandmother had a stepmother and step-siblings, blended families are still more prevalent in this generation. Seven years ago, a girl from a divorced home that I went to school with asked me how long my parents had been married. I answered, “Fifteen years”, and her reply was, “Well, that probably won’t last that much longer!” I believe as a young adult in this generation, it is “normal” and expected to have a blended family, but I recognize this is not what God originally intended for families.
Next gen family connection
Some people in my generation do not even consider their “blood” family to be their “family.” They consider “family” to be the people they spend the most time with; people who are non-related and friends they love and trust. Some of my peers have even told me they do not really care much about their biological family. Because they do not get along with them, they do not make any effort to connect with their related family members.
Another thing I have noticed in my generation is that family time is not protected and considered sacred as in generations past. Media, cell phones, and other technologies have taken over peoples’ time and attention. The time spent on these devices could be used to connect with those family members God has put in their lives. Instead of face-to-face communication, they are using social media.
Next gen family matters
I know that my Christian friends, along with myself, really care about their family. They understand the importance of having a strong Christ-centered family and that’s what makes it a success. Even though there is much divorce and broken homes today, I have still seen God unite blended families and keep them strong and healthy. I have learned that the people who make up the family structure are not as important as Who holds them together.
Allison is a rising sophomore at Johnson University. She is studying Elementary Education and English as a Second Language. She hopes to be an Elementary/ESL teacher at an international school. With her passion for children and missions, she prays that one day she will be able to serve God with her training.
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