The families we live in are our primary relationships. These quotations about family life and families explore what family means to us, including how it’s changing or needs to change.

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And I saw for the first time how, despite the isolation of our own lives, we are always connected to our ancestors; our bodies hold the memories of those who came before us, whether it is the features we inherit or a disposition that is etched into our soul.

— Alyson Richman

I feel incredibly successful. I make a living as a writer and am able to help support a big family, my church, my bleeding-heart causes.

— Anne Lamott

Sooner or later, we have to venture beyond our biological family to find our logical one, the one that actually makes sense for us. We have to, if we are to live without squandering our lives.

— Armistead Maupin

My wife has been my closest friend, my closest advisor. And … she’s not somebody who looks to the limelight, or even is wild about me being in politics. And that’s a good reality check on me. When I go home, she wants me to be a good father and a good husband. And everything else is secondary to that.

— Barack Obama

She was the cornerstone of our family and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances.

— Barack Obama, with his sister, on the death of his grandmother Madelyn Dunham just before the November 2008 election

American families have always shown remarkable resiliency, or flexible adjustment to natural, economic, and social challenges. Their strengths resemble the elasticity of a spider web, a gull’s skillful flow with the wind, the regenerating power of perennial grasses, the cooperation of an ant colony, and the persistence of a stream carving canyon rocks. These are not the strengths of fixed monuments but living organisms. This resilience is not measured by wealth, muscle or efficiency but by creativity, unity, and hope. Cultivating these family strengths is critical to a thriving human community.

— Ben Silliman, Family Life Specialist with the University of Wyoming’s Cooperative Extension Service

Summer means happy times and good sunshine. It means going to the beach, enjoying the scenery, having fun with family and friends.

— Brian Wilson

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

— Buddha

The original necessity for the ceaseless presence of the woman to maintain the altar fire — and it was an altar fire in very truth at one period — has passed with the means of prompt ignition; the matchbox has freed the housewife from that incessant service, but the feeling that women should stay at home is with us yet.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

It is the logic of consumerism that undermines the values of loyalty and permanence and promotes a different set of values that is destructive of family life.

— Christopher Lasch

Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union.

— Coretta Scott King

In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors, to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow, they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one.

— Della Joann McGinnis Johnson

One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.

— Euripides

Already complaints are multiplying on every hand that that most gracious quality of all that adorns the age of childhood — the quality of reverence — is fast fading from our schools and households; that the oldtime respect for father and mother is diminished, and grown rarer and more uncertain.

— Felix Adler

He that hath a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.

— Francis Bacon

It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons.

— Friedrich Schiller

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

— George Bernard Shaw

The only perfect love to be found on earth is not sexual love, which is riddled with hostility and insecurity, but the wordless commitment of families, which takes as its model mother-love. This is not to say that fathers have no place, for father-love, with its driving for self-improvement and discipline, is also essential to survival, but that uncorrected father-love, father-love as it were practiced by both parents, is a way to annihilation.

— Germaine Greer

The real theater of the sex war is the domestic hearth.

— Germaine Greer

There was a time when ladies knew nothing, beyond their own family concerns; but in the present day there are many who know nothing about them. Each of these extremes should be avoided.

— H. L. Barnum

We don’t need sugar, flour or rice or anything else. We just want to see our dear ones.

— Hafiz of Persia

I look upon the whole world as my fatherland, and every war has to me the horror of a family feud.

— Helen Keller

Psychoanalysis has taught that the dead – a dead parent, for example – can be more alive for us, more powerful, more scary, than the living. It is the question of ghosts.

— Jacques Derrida

I know that the purpose of life is to understand and be in the present moment with the people you love. It’s just that simple.

— Jane Seymour

Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.

— Jessamyn West

I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.

— Joyce Meyer

The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

— Karl Marx

At the core of conservative social policy about race are old ideas that link racial inequality to non-traditional family formation and its attendant culture of poverty.

— Kimberlé Crenshaw

Nuclear didn’t describe families. How could it? Dry physics was not equal to that task. In the twentieth century we needed a biological metaphor, Darwinian in scope, to suggest the gnash and crash of carnivorous life in the family gene pool. But for the 21st century, the new century, I think the metaphors must be chemical. Molecular. In the molecular family people are connected without being bound. They spindle themselves around shared experiences and affections rather than splashing in the shared gene pool.

— Laura Kalpakian

If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and civic causes, your children won’t either. And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out.

— Marian Wright Edelman
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