Family Definition with Classification Essay

Topics: Family, Nuclear family, Extended family Pages: 6 (1311 words) Published: September 1, 2014
My Definition of Family with Classification
The definition of “family” may differ from one person to the next. Even the various dictionaries have multiple definitions for the simple yet ever so complex word. The Oxford English Dictionary’s etymology of the word family comes from the Middle French famile, beginning in 1337 with family being defined as a group of people living under the same roof, household, in 1442-44 included a group of people related by blood, 1580 a group of people related by blood or marriage and living under the same roof, 1658 a group of people who share a common philosophy and in 1676, a group of genera of plants or animals which share certain general traits (Simpson and Weiner). In this paper I will endeavor to cover the many and diverse definitions of family. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate and define my own definition of family and to discuss how my definition has changed over the years. The United States legal definition of “family” is one or more persons occupying a single dwelling unit, provided that unless all members are related by blood or marriage, no such family shall contain over five persons, but further provided that domestic servants employed on the premised may be housed on the premises without being counted as family or families. Many people will certainly disagree with this definition. Based on this legal definition, any persons living as roommates are considered a family. It also states that a family consists of blood or marriage, which is a more agreed upon definition. Although the United States Constitution has no clear definition or directly states “family” in any of its articles, there have been numerous court cases which question the definition ( The courts have stated starting with Meyer and Pierce that the Constitution protects the sanctity of family because it is a deeply rooted institution in the Nation’s history and tradition. What would my definition of family be? I would define family in line with how it is defined by the Vanier Institute. People bound by responsibilities, marriage, blood, and includes pets ( of family). Many people who do not have children or are unable to have children consider their pet(s) to be family. I certainly consider our dog to be a part of our family and can understand how many other people feel the same way. My wife and I recently experienced the death of her fifteen year old beagle and believe me we are grieving for a family member. We have taken in a rescue beagle/dachshund and he is helping us through this time with lots of love and has become our new “baby”. But, there are certainly people that would completely disagree with pet’s being included as family members. There is no right or wrong definition. To each and every person family has its own distinct meaning. Everyone will also have sub-classes of their own unique definition as well. There is immediate, extended and considered family. Your immediate family would be, in my opinion, your household. The extended family would be aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. Then the considered family would be lifelong friends that a person can identify with as if they were a brother or sister, aunt or uncle (Feldman). Typical definitions of family, a mother, father, and children is rarely seen of late as compared to that of forty or fifty years ago. Divorce rate is higher than it has ever been in recent decades. With that being said a woman and her children or father and his children are no less a family than both parents being present. A family as described by Merriam-Webster would disagree ( That definition states that a family is consists of two parents and children. I strongly disagree with their definition. Circumstances may prevent this portrayal of family from existing in today’s...

Cited: "Definition of Family - Vanier Institute of the Family." Definition of Family –
Institute of the Family. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
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