The Family Unit

I spent a great deal of time with family during this holiday season. This is a rarity for me because I typically don't like to be around these people for much of an extended period. I suppose this is because as a kid, being around extended family means more people with the right to tell you what to do. Now that I am older, it seems that the roles have change.

In the years after my grandmother's death, my aunt Wacy has been the Holiday Season Host. We all gather at her home to exchange gifts, eat, talk and try to have a good time. Though we rarely have a horrible time, it is like pulling teeth for me to go.

This years event was oddly fulfilling. I was pleased to see family that I hadn't seen in quite some time. I even became reacquainted with family members that I had forgotten about. There were members that I could have done without. There were people there that I least expected to see.

What I found most interesting was the family dynamic. Sociologist dedicate their lives to understanding how groups react to one another. This weekend, I found myself being an amateur sociologist. I spent a great deal of time looking at the relationships each of us have toward one another. This helped me to rationalize issues of 'how we got to where we are today.'

I started this entry writing about my niece, but it ended differently. I suppose I will have to save that entry for another day. In the meantime, here is her photo.

"Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place."- Zach Braff (Garden State)


Things just got real...

Sometimes, you will find things will get heavy in this blog. However, I never thought they would ever get this heavy. As a courteous blogger, I feel it is proper to warn you that the following is quite serious.

We constantly talk about what we can do for ourselves and what the government should help us with. Some want government intervention in one area, but not in another. When is it really proper to depend on your government and when should we "pull ourselves up by our boot straps." Unfortunately, we can leave ourselves to hang with those very same boot straps.

Some may question what I am referring to. In a rare instance, names have been changed to protect those I love. I know a young lady who had a near perfect childhood. Aside from the inheritance of a slight psychological disorder, she should have been able to live on her own as an adult. However, when that time came she was clearly not prepared.

She had no clear plans and no true direction with what her life should be after the age of eighteen. Now, she is 21 with three children (3 months - 2 years). Furthermore, she has been forced out the home of her parents. This also forced her to live with her 'baby daddy' (though they are not together.) I failed to mention that this is an abusive situation (plagued with unreported incidences). She works two jobs to make ends meet, with zero support from her 'roommate'.

Part of me wants to tell her to file reports on her deadbeat roommate. Then, she should move out (or have him move out) taking the kids with her. She would be a prime candidate for section eight housing. After that, she can file for child support and a raise the three children on her own.

The problem with this solution is her slight disorder. It ordinarily can cause heightened stress and confusion. This combined with raising three kids is a deadly cocktail. While trying to attain assistance, it is quite possible that the government would take her children away. Family wants to step in and help, but three children will not fit into their current lifestyles. So, what does she do? What can they do?

"One finger won't make an impact, but you ball all those fingers into a fist, and you can strike a mighty blow. Now, this family has got to be that fist."- Irma P. Hall (Soul Food)