The Meaning of Family - For Me
Family is defined as a specific group of people that may be made up of partners, children, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
An example of a family is a set of parents living with their children. But that's never the whole story in a lot of cases.
Though to some, the meaning of family means a group of people related by blood or ancestry. There are thousands of families that have nothing to do with genes and everything to do with love, compassion, and support.
Family beginnings with respect and appreciation regardless of their age, where they come from or what they’ve experienced, no matter where they are in the world, how capable or healthy they are, or who they love. Our value of family should extend to our neighbors and communities.
Rather than simply defining family by a dictionary definition, each individual should look to define a family by their own standards, enriching the dictionary's definition. You can have several families in your lifetime, even several families at once if you choose. Regardless of how you choose to define your family unit, whether it is traditional or unique, your definition is of the family unit that works for you.
For me the core meaning of family, is safety, love, trust, and support. Family gives us a sense of belonging; that we matter. I look at family as those who care about you the most and want to see you grow and flourish. We may not see them all the time, but when it matters most, we are there for them and they are there for us.
Your family can also be your closest friends, your teachers or your mentors - your chosen family. The true definition of family lies not in blood relations, but it is measured in the amount of love and respect people hold for each other.
I have met and formed relationships with a great deal of people in my lifetime; some family, some friends, and some people I probably will never see again. Each bond unique in their own right. Some of these relationships may not have us labeled as relatives on paper; but yet, some of these people feel more like family members than those I share my own blood with. So what does that mean? Just because someone doesn't live in your household or have a common ancestor, they should not be considered family?
For me, it is the actions of people and our relationships that earn family status, rather than our matching up based off of some DNA testing. We live in a time where the modern family is no longer just a mother, father, and their biological children. There are endless makeups of a household that are completely acceptable, normal, and desired, and that is why, along with these evolving situations, the true meaning of family is bound to change as well.
We may all have ways of defining a family and what being a part of a family means to us. And families differ in terms of economic, cultural, social, and many other facets, but what every family has in common is that the people who call it a family are making clear that those people are important in some way to the person calling them their family.
When person I know asked their 7-year-old son what family means to him, he simply replied, "People who love me."
Family is whoever I can depend on for support, to laugh with, to play with, and to share the challenges and rewards of life with.
I hope you are surrounded by your people either physically or virtually not only this week but as often as you can be.