In 1993, the United Nations decided that May 15 of every year should be observed as “The International Day of Families.” Its intent is to “promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.”
I think it’s wonderful that the UN has established that day and I’m sure most of us can appreciate the important role family plays in each of our lives. Someday I may even like to talk about how our role in “the family” changes throughout our lives. Obviously, your role as a school-age child is much different than when you become a parent and, yes, even a grandparent.
But what I’d really like to discuss this year is the changing definition of “family” in our world today
I got the first flicker of insight into this earlier this year because of the experience of one of our Exceptional Caregiver Award winners, Stacy from Georgia. Please feel free to read her story, but to sum it up, Stacy entered the life of an older couple primarily to care for the ailing wife, who had nearly an entire lifetime of health problems. Stacy ended up also caring for the husband after he had some health issues, too. When the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, Stacy was so important to these folks that they insisted on having her included in their family portrait to celebrate this achievement.
While the US Census Bureau has a very strict definition of “family” for their purposes (“at least two people related by marriage, birth or adoption and living in the same household”), I think it’s safe to say what constitutes the idea of family these days is still evolving.
Recently the term “work spouse” has gained traction to define a special relationship between two people in the workplace with bonds that mirror those of an actual marriage (without the physical relationship, of course). It makes sense when you consider that you spend 1/3 of your weekday life working with many of the same people, it’s inevitable that relationships will develop. In some cases, you can even extrapolate the “work spouse” relationship to a “work family,” especially if the same group works together for a number of years and has experienced success that leads to happiness and fulfillment.
There are other examples, too, of friends and acquaintances filling the role of family, such as young professionals working away from their hometown. Events like “Friendsgiving” for Thanksgiving help fill the void when family can’t be there.
Which brings us back to my first example, Stacy, and her special family-like relationship with her clients. Our vision at Home Helpers® Home Care is “to be the extended family when family can’t be there.” So to me, Stacy’s story – and the stories of hundreds of Caregivers like her – are proof of the concept.
Happy International Day of Families to you and all of your various family groups!