Perfect Families

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 60s know what they look like; the Cleavers, the Nelsons and the Stones were perfect families, challenged only by the occasional misguided antics of their teenaged children.  There was no divorce, physical or substance abuse, depression or intolerance.  These were the families we planned to assemble for ourselves.

Then, in 1971, All in the Family broke the mold, exposing both superficial and deep-seated defects that exist in human families.  Racism, homophobia, religious zealotry, alcoholism, infidelity and abuse were faced head-on, as were many other issues that disrupt our social fabric.  Since then, movies and television shows have increasingly focused on problems that challenge the modern family, often smoldering beneath the surface and undetected by extended family, friends and neighbors.

Indeed, having intimate knowledge of issues within our own family, we too often assume that others enjoy perfect relationships, sailing through life without financial concerns or personal troubles.  This, of course, is a mirage, a bubble often burst by divorce or some other tragedy.  Rather than resenting others for their seemingly perfect families or criticizing them for their failed relationships, it is best that we acknowledge the limitations of our perspective.