I was reading a book the other day and the author was talking about the extended family. I remember in my sociology courses learning about the nuclear family, or traditional family, in the here and now.
In North America we are stuck with this arrangement to our determinate. I remember thinking, how appropriate the term was, how clever. To describe a family unit of a wife a husband and children, in this manner. Especially since it was a term used after the Second World War and of course after the nuclear bomb was used.
Prewar the family was a traditional extended family where we knew our close relatives, grandfathers, uncles aunts and the not so close cousins. We were taught respect for our elders and that family looked after family.
My grandfather lived with us until he died and that was expected. Children were looked after by parents, and parents were looked after by children.
In this day and age of nuclear families now meaning single parent families as well, we have lost the concept of family. We have children who couldn't care less about their parents, grandparents who have to go to court to petition to see their grandchildren and homes for the elderly overflowing with forgotten seniors.
Even worse, seniors who raised their children only to be abandoned by them and left to die alone.
We look at the latchkey children of today, who can only communicate through the Internet and wonder how their parents will fare. Perhaps in time people will not have children, as more and more of them are opting to do.
We may be blest in Canada and the U.S.A. with a standard of living that our forbearers could only dream of and the third world countries envy, but have we paid to steep a price. Our society seems not only isolated from our extended families, but to prefer to do so . How sad!
Walter Jones’ column appears periodically in the Amherst News