Towards the return of extended families / by kevin murray

Extended families, that is families of multi-generations, along with cousins and other relatives, were the norm back in the days when farming and agricultural was the primary means of making a living; which especially made sense, because farming and agricultural tasks are very labor intensive, so that with an extended family a fair division of labor could be structured to take advantage of the experience of elders, as well as the youthful energy and  strength of youngsters, and the stabilizing influence of the married couple that helped shepherded all those responsibilities.


In today's modern world, while there are certain cultures that still live and encourage extended families, that appears for the most part to be far from the norm, so that it is not unusual for a given family, for example, of two or three children, to encounter as the children mature into adulthood and employment, that each of those previous nuclear family members ultimately getting their own place of residence, and then only getting together primarily on holidays or other family events, even though, more times than not, everyone lives basically in the same city and vicinity.  While to a certain degree this might seem to make a lot of sense, as well as seeming to be a natural rite of passage, it doesn't necessarily have to be, nor should it necessarily be that way.


For instance, there are massive advantages to living within an extended family, such as, an in-house babysitter being readily available, so too, will be an in-house tutor, as well as an in-house cleaner and organizer, in addition to an in-house elder care person to assist the aged, of which, all of these things being together are not only cost-efficient but very helpful; not to mention the fact that simply living all under the same roof, cuts down significantly on the redundancy of extra vehicles, extra houses, and extra utility bills, while also providing to others, the affection and respect, that money cannot ever buy.


Certainly, when extended families live all under the same roof, there are going to be times of tension and disagreement, but that is going to be the case in any situation, even in a house that houses just two people.  So too, an extended family is going to offer far less private space, but then again, the flip side of this, is that there will be a lot less loneliness and therefore probably less of a tendency to suffer from the ill effects of disaffected personalities, that have not an appropriate social support system that is there for them in their times of upmost need.


So too, it is wise to note, that most everyone that lives a full life, is going to cycle through the stages of that life, of which the inestimable Shakespeare states: "And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages…."  This so indicates, that rather than old people being shuffled away to old people's homes and thereby forgotten; or young children completing their classes each day, only to be stuck with afterschool care of varying quality levels; or even parents, divorced or otherwise, stuck in dead-end jobs, frustrated aspirations, and bleak social prospects; what is really needed is an extended family structure which can help to alleviate that situation, because each person within that structure, brings some good to that structure, so that, rather than so many living lives that are bleak, dark, and piercing cold; more people will find that being around their extended family, provides them with happiness, light, and the warmth of a loving hearth, extended to all.