Across the generations
Often such people speak only of the so-called “nuclear family” - the basic unit of a mother, father, and children – and that indeed is critical.
I humbly submit, however, that the “breakdown” of family structures did not begin with the splitting of the “nuclear family” but rather with a diminished sense of mutual care and responsibility extending between members of multiple generations, thus starting to unravel the traditional interconnectedness of families and in turn to dilute the glue of society.
(I say this with great humility and regret, for I myself have been very, very far from perfect in this regard.)
In today’s first reading (from the last two chapters of Genesis), Joseph lives to see his children’s children. In fact, they are “born on Joseph’s knees” – symbolizing the close connection of the generations.
To be sure, in marriage a man “leaves his father and mother” yet neither husband nor wife lose their obligation to honor their fathers and mothers nor do fathers and mothers lose their obligation to love their married children.
Also, as it was in the time of Joseph, economic necessity sometime requires relocation and thus often geographical estrangement, but that fundamental sense of intergenerational connectedness, love, and responsibility must continue to be cultivated: the younger generations for the older generations and the older generations to the younger generations.
By strengthening these bonds across the generations, with the blessings of God we help strengthen support for the “nuclear family” and strengthen the glue of the society in which we live.