Thursday, June 23, 2011

Three Kinds of Families

My aunt, a long-time and very skilled family therapist, says there are three kinds of families:
  • Families who gather around food
  • Families who gather around alcohol
  • Families who gather around activities
Makes sense, right? We all know families whose gatherings are all about activities--they get together to ski or mountain bike or hike. Their vacations are centered around being active. Then, there are families who get together to drink. Their gatherings have copious amounts of alcohol. Then, there are families whose #1 question when planning to get together is: what will we eat? What should I bring?

My extended family (both sides) definitely falls into the food category. There's always a big meal. Dinner is often planned during (or just after) breakfast. We're a food family. Sure, there may also be alcohol or activities, but food is the centerpiece of our gatherings.

I've been around alcohol or activity families before and, let me tell you, it has been a disconcerting experience. I'll never forget a time I was vising a friend during college and her family planned a beach picnic. Except we got there and there was hardly any food! The activity of driving onto the beach, visiting the beach, walking along the beach, was clearly the focus (I later realized!), NOT the food part of a picnic. In fact, if I recall correctly, I don't even think there were enough sandwiches for everyone to have their own!

I literally could not wrap my head around what happened that day!

I started giving all this a lot of thought recently when my brother and his new girlfriend were vising for (I would later learn!) my surprise party weekend. On Friday night we were talking about her meeting my parents for the first time the next day. She said something along the lines of, "I feel comfortable around any family that eats."

I couldn't agree more! (And she'll do just fine with ours!)

Original post by Smiling Mama. Thanks for reading!


  1. Yes! we are definitely a food family. Mike's is an activity family, so I often find myself panicking when with them that I might not get to eat (which is a nightmare for me!)

  2. This is a very insightful post. I think the ideal situation to be a family that was able to do each thing in moderation. Kids shouldn't be afraid of alcohol, they should be exposed to people who know how to responsibly use it. Kids should be taught that food is necessary, and that so is health. And kids, should definitely understand that activities will be a huge part of their lives - and the more things they enjoy doing, the more apt they are to have a successful and fun life.


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