I believe a healthy family is based on a level of mutual respect for other members and themselves. I believe that a healthy family should provide a level of support for its members, however, each family is a unique system (much like the individuals within it) and each individual will play “roles” within the family system that they are comfortable with. Individual role-players may exert varying degrees of influence when change occurs (like death, illness, financial issues, or divorce). Every member of the family should enjoy a sense of security or “belonging” to the family, and all members should share good interpersonal relations with each other. Healthy families are loyal to each other, and ideally members offer each other unconditional love. My universal definition of family extends beyond the nuclear family to include multigenerational and extended families… it might also include groups of people with whom you have come to cohabitate (like a college fraternity).
I am less traditional than most (I suspect) in the respect that I do not narrowly define “marriage” as a relationship that can exist between a man and a woman. In that respect, my definition of family is predominantly relationship based. The reader could correctly infer that I am supportive of same sex relationships. I could potentially see issues in the counseling relationship if I were to counsel someone who was critical of that lifestyle… I might be inclined to suggest that is more “normal” than some people are comfortable with. All that aside, I would be the first to admit that I have not always taken such a liberal position… perhaps that’s proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks?