Extended Families

I recently read an article titled “Co-Living, Extended Families, and Hidden Persuaders” by Alan Jacobs, which touched on some of the themes in our society post the sexual revolution, and also resonated with me as my Dad and I both own and reside in a house which we inherited from my Grandparents.  Our situation is more a circumstance of the Vancouver housing market than a desire to experiencing the nurturing of family, so it wouldn’t have happened if market conditions had made it easier to sell the property and go our own way.  Societal norms certainly don’t encourage it, yet I’ve had a similar positive experience of the nurturing of family, and opportunity to make up for time lost in my childhood with my Dad. 

I grew up in a fairly standard nuclear situation, with most of my extended family living far enough away that we only saw them on holidays and other occasions, so most of my family time was with my Mom and my Dad, where I grew to have close relationship with them.  A couple months before I turned eight years old, my parents separated, so I went from seeing my Dad every day to weekends and the occasional weeknight, which was quite an adjustment.  About a year and a half later, my Dad would move to Southern California, which would change to only seeing him for a couple weeks during school vacations. 

I wasn’t raised in the church, becoming fairly agnostic through my teens, but near the end of high school, I became a Christian at a weekend youth camp, which would have a profound impact on my values, and help shape my education and career path.  I took the year after high school to work as well as upgrade courses, which allowed me to stay in my new home church, grounding me in a solid Christian community with a small but vibrant youth ministry, and a great disciple and mentor in Brad, the youth pastor.  I moved away from home to start University, but was close enough during first year to remain part of the church, so would keep a friend and mentor in Brad.  I recall in those first few weeks, Brad checked in, asking how I was eating and various other things one would, and I fondly remember when I mentioned the last few meals I’d made, he joked about when he was coming over for dinner. 

I lived in both solo and roommate situations for my first couple years of University, then came to Vancouver to finish my degree, and by that time my Dad was there too, taking care of my Grandma who had mild dementia.  My Dad suggested I live there to help offset school costs, and I agreed thinking it would be short term.  One of my friends from camp would invite me to both Point Grey and UCM, where I quickly plugged into both ministries.  The following year, Brad would move to Vancouver to start an associate pastor position, where our relationship would evolve from disciple and mentor, into great friendship.  He encouraged me with the time I had with my Dad, expressing we had the opportunity to make up for lost time, which I’ve more recently began to appreciate.  He noted a “failure to launch” mentality he saw with some young adults, but that he didn’t see in me, as he saw me living my life independently, serving the church, all of which was of great encouragement.  A Chinese friend of mine told me “you’re doing the Asian thing,” which helped me appreciate it was only western culture that said our situation didn’t subscribe to societal norms.  Around the time I finished University, my Grandma had a stroke, moved into a home, and would pass away within the year, which then lead to my Dad and I inheriting the house, and has continued into our current living arrangement.  It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for following God, as He’s blessed me with secure housing which affords be both living and working space, and that has also enabled me to answer various callings, from being more involved in my church community, serving UCM, and being a part of a church plant. 

The sexual freedom aspect is of particular interest, as it’s certainly an obstacle that I identified with before becoming a Christian.  I had a societal influenced notion of premarital sex being the norm, and presumed I would cohabitate as a natural precursor to more serious commitment or even marriage, so the whole concept of reserving sex for marriage was predicated on religious doctrine and tradition, and seemed ridiculous.  I’ve had friends who don’t appreciate how I’m reserving sex for marriage and ask if it’s awkward having someone stay the night, which invariably leads to an interesting and funny continuation of the conversation.  Looking back, I recall a Christian friend in high school telling me she wouldn’t date someone who wasn’t a Christian, which surely meant not having sex with one as well, which I thought was ignorant, cutting herself off from so many potentially good people.  In retrospect, God helped show me I was the ignorant one, and testified how things change when we are transformed through Christ. 

This has cumulated into an appreciation that I’ve experienced a level of family relationship, which used to be more common in western culture, that is still common for the majority outside the west, yet the west now frowns upon. 

My hope is this encourages the opportunity to build deeper relationships with family, as well as appreciate how God can use circumstance to further enrich our relationships. 

Ian McLeod

Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Ian spent his teens in the Okanagan, where he had a misspent youth in the family winery, before coming to Vancouver to study Journalism.  Specializing in Automotive Journalism, he thought this was a good idea since at three years old, when his nursery school teacher’s car wouldn’t start, he told her something might be wrong with the carburetor.  When he’s not writing about cars, he has an interest in computers, history, politics, audio production, plus he likes to ski, cook, and enjoy the outdoors, especially with friends.  He’s been a part of Redemption Church longer than it was in existence when he first attended, and is involved in various aspects from leading the sound team to helping keep the building standing.