The value of the word “family” is at an all-time low. While we can measure stats about marriages, how many nights a week families eat together, etc… What I’m talking about is the use of the word itself.
How do I know this? Because rarely a day goes by when I don’t see a post on social media where a young person says: I love my ________ fam! Here are some examples:
Young person gets a new job at XYZ coffee shop: “I love my XYZ fam!”
Young person on a sports team: “Huge win tonight for the team #family”
Young person returning from camp: “Cabin XYZ forever #fam”
Here is what I almost never see:
· Young person on a weeknight: “Great time at dinner #family”
· Young person after a vacation: “Crazy adventure with the #fam”
Those two posts might sound too lame and almost unrealistic to even imagine from a young person, but you get the idea. In some ways this isn’t a bad thing. Teenagers are in the midst of a natural transition toward independence which includes establishing new relationships and identity. So, it makes sense that they would want to publicly announce their excitement. On the other hand, and without knowing it, they are reimagining their own definition of family. In my opinion they are lowering the bar of what “family” means… and sadly we can contribute to the depreciating value of the word “family” too.
Here are some basic criteria for family:
- Time together
- Engaging challenges
Now in some ways you absolutely can get a good dose of these through a new job, joining a sports team, or going to a camp. But perhaps the two biggest differences between “shallow fam” and “deep fam” are timeframe and meaningful purpose. True family is a very long-term commitment that, at its best, changes the direction of lives and even generations. Read the rest of this entry »