len's masthead




londoner editor pic





The new data on the 2011 Census shows the changes in what constitutes a family in Canada. The family is not what it used to be. I still remember when the average family was made up of a mom and dad and two children.

Well folks the dynamics of the Canadian family has certainly changed to take in people of many diverse backgrounds. While two-thirds of Canadaís 9.3 million families are headed by married couples, more diverse portraits are emerging. We now have same-sex partners, common-law families, single-parent households, step families, grandparent-run families where the parents are absent, foster children and their households.

We have married couples where the female has decided not to take her husbands name at the time of marriage preferring to keep her surname separate, Mom can be Ms Smith and dad Mr Drambouski with the children of the union who usually use the name of the father. Couples sometimes split and the female doesnít want to be branded with her former ex-husband's surname and we have a reshuffling once again of the cards of matrimony.

Some of my young clients have to be able to juggle the new relationships of the past and present spouses. Dad after the divorce has returned home to live in London to live with his ageing parents and mom has a new partner (boy friend) in Toronto. You probably know the routine if you are divorced with children: Monday and Wednesday with Mom and Tuesday and Thursday with dad with the week-ends equally divided to take in the needs of the parents.

It can be hard to trace your family roots when mom decided to go for in-vitro insemination where an anonymous male donates to the semen bank that a women can access via her gynaecologist. There are catalogues of potential donors that have their genetic disposition, education and physical make-ups available. The semen is injected into the waiting female recipient to bring forth a baby. Eggs can be donated and fertilized in a Petrie dish waiting to be implanted. Think about it, we now can have three people directly involved in what was once a simple process of making a baby.

Gay/lesbian couples can now access fertility clinics where they can choose the babyís gender. With the benefit of ultra sound there is no need to be disappointed with your babyís gender. Two females or two males can take on their perspective roles of parenting. In todays modern day society the children do not seem to be troubled by the changes in sexual stereotyping of old.

Used to be a couple fell in love and the "Stork" was responsible for the delivery.

With all of the possible combinations and permutations we have lots of opportunities for people to choose what type of family they wish to have.

I counselled a young woman who told me that she recently learned that her mother was her grandmother. Last month she discovered that the women who she always referred to as her sister was in fact her mother. Her uncles and aunts she found were also her brothers and sisters.

I had to chart her genetic map and found with some help the rational for her family. Many years ago her mother/sister had a baby which she legally gave to her mother. Recently the grandmother/mother discovered that she was not well and told her daughter/granddaughter to go and live with her sister who was her birth mother. What was supposed to be the norm didnít exist anymore.

Reminds me of the story of a man who was stopped at the side of the road. A policeman arrived on the scene to ascertain that all was okay. The father explained that he and his family had stopped to have lunch. The policeman concluded that it was a family picnic. Dad laughed, told the cop that "it was his family but it sure was no picnic".
Sound familiar?

Drop me an e mail.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com