Today’s Assignment: A Definition of Family That Everyone Can Love

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Will Saletan tweets unhappily that his son was “marked down 5 percent on a high school health test because he chose this ‘incorrect’ definition of family.” David French is unhappy too:

How reassuring that our educators — in their infinite wisdom — have expanded the definition of “family” to “a collection of individuals who care for and about each other.” But to paraphrase The Incredibles — If everyone is family, then no one is. I’ve “cared for and about” my classmates in high school, college, and law school. I’ve “cared for and about” my colleagues at every job I’ve held. I guess we’re all family now.

Look, this is probably just a lousy question. Even Saletan and French, I assume, would agree that answer C is obviously incorrect. Adopted children are family. In-laws are family. Stepfathers are family. “Related by blood” just flatly doesn’t work.

On the other hand, yes, answer E seems mighty broad—though I’m not sure if there’s any decent way to succinctly define family at all. I’ll note that my dictionary needs four separate definitions just to encompass the usage we’re talking about here (i.e., not including crime syndicates, taxonomic classifications, etc.).

But there’s no need to get too outraged about this. There’s certainly value in teaching our kids that sharing DNA isn’t the exclusive definition of family. And while we should probably be able to do better than answer E, the more I think about it, the harder it gets. Anyone want to take a stab? We all promise not to laugh.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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