More accurately, I’m talking about when idolisation leads to alienation. This can happen in a lot of situations, but lately I’ve seen it in family structure. As much as we are making leaps and bounds forward in some areas of social equality, we still idolise nuclear families above all else. It’s still the unspoken ‘universal dream’. For those of you who haven’t come across this terminology before, a nuclear family is composed of two parents and their biological children.
Nuclear families are being idolised and everyone else is left being told that if they don’t fit this mould, they are somehow incomplete. This is happening all the time to single people, couples without children and single parents. People feel like a mere part of an incomplete unit and not recognising there is value in themselves outside of relationships with others.
I’m not saying that if you want to be a part of a nuclear family you’re some kind of mindless sheep. Families can be great; having people in your life to love and who love you is a huge blessing. I would love to eventually have that. But it really isn’t for everyone. Not everyone wants to have a family or can function well within that setting. If someone doesn’t feel prepared to marry or look after children, there is nothing wrong with them! Not to mention, this expectation of having your own children can be immensely painful for those who aren’t able to have children for whatever reason.
It might be all too easy for me to say this as a young person who hasn’t experienced the fulfilment that being a spouse or parent may bring, but if you aren’t married or have children you’re not failing at anything! If you don’t want that right now, no-one can tell you that you’re wrong. Just because getting married and having children was the right thing for one couple to do doesn’t mean it is in your plans. I know I myself have felt the pressure to get into a relationship, the discomfort that comes with questions about why I don’t have a boyfriend. And that can really bother people, it prompts us to ask questions of ourselves about why we aren’t in a relationship. A lot of people, myself included, can find themselves asking what is wrong with me? It can be a huge source of insecurity especially as time passes and things stay the same. Eventually you can even begin to expect rejection on grounds of your ‘inexperience’.
This is no excuse to shun those who choose to get married and have children. We can’t say they’re ‘slaves to the system’ or have failed in any way. But collectively, we should be aware of the damage and alienation that this kind of idolisation can cause. A person’s relationship and/or family status, I would chance to say, is never within one individual person’s complete control. The truth is, marriage and having a family is not everyone’s dream, nor can everyone achieve it even if they wanted to. I just ask that you be sensitive to the people in your world. Everyone has their own trajectory in life, and if yours doesn’t match someone else’s, that is no grounds to say either one is ‘correct’.