That’s the question Houstonia’s editorial team found itself asking over and over in preparation for our family guide. It’s not an easy one to answer. The family as we know it today is a shapeshifter, the product of at least two forces that are themselves in constant motion—society’s changing attitudes and an ever-unpredictable economic climate.
In a world where children are raised by moms and dads, yes, but also grandparents, single parents, gay parents, and more, and where those seeking an extended family network can find it at reunions, yes, but also at support groups, churches, and around water coolers—understanding just who is and who isn’t a member of one’s family is harder than ever, so much so that maybe the distinction doesn’t even matter anymore.
In such a climate, it seemed prudent to employ the broadest possible definition of family, which is to say not just parents and children, but the entire extended clan, not just those united by common blood but a common bond as well. After all, while each of us will always be part of the larger human family, the various subdivisions offered to us are increasingly a matter of choice. Some will see this as evidence that the family is falling apart, others that it is under siege, still others that it is obsolete. From where we stand, however, the family is now and always will be a vital institution, if only because the needs that underlie it—stability and unconditional love—remain themselves as vital as ever. The construction bends but the loving goes on. —Scott Vogel