The "Normal" Family
In today's society, the term "family" invokes many different responses and emotions. Some may respond with the traditional two parent, two children and a dog scenario when asked what their definition of family is. But many more would have a very different view. These views could range from a single parent family to just roommates in a college dorm. A family is a group of people who create a set of relationships to ensure that their own and their loved ones' daily needs are met. They are people who are related by marriage, blood or emotional commitment (or other kind of commitment) who help each other with subsistence and emotional needs. Two present day novelists, Carol Shields and Jane Smiley describe their personal family arrangements in two very different ways, but both with the understanding that there is no "normal" family and that it is an all embracing, non-exclusive definition.
According to Shields, author of the Wall Street Journal article "Family Is One of the Few Certainties We Will Take With Us Far into the Future," without family, human "existence would be without meaning" (499). This is because "human beings are social creatures, interdependent economically, linked to each other by emotional need, sexual desire, and the drive to perpetuate their species" (499).
In the first section of the article titled "Belonging to Someone," Shield's states that "the condition of family is one of the few certainties we will take with us into the next thousand years; each of us is, and will continue to be, someone's son or daughter" (499). Although future scientific technologies and drastic social changes may distort the traditional view of the family, the family will continue to be the awkward mix of the "bosom of love and comfort, romantic language" and "sibling rivalry,