How Do You Define Family? The True Meaning of Family

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This is Empty Nestin’, and in order to have an empty nest, one must first have had a full nest.

Full of laughter, full of joy, full of family.  Now, well now the nest may be empty, but I can not say that the nest is less full than it was ten months ago.

The people that are the most important to us may have moved out, but the memories and feeling remain.



But how do you define family?  What is the true meaning of family?

Family.  An easy word to say, but a harder word to define.  What exactly is a family?

How do you quantify a word that is more than a definition?

Merriam Webster defines family as “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children.

That seems easy, doesn’t it?  Parents raising children.

Those of you that agree with this definition, please raise your hands?

Ok, I can’t see you, put your hands down.

[I’m going to imagine that none of you raised your hands.]

Why? Because that definition is too basic, too simple.

If we went off that simple definition of family, then when our kids moved out we would no longer be a family.

We all know that there is no possible way that could be true.

In today’s evolving world we know that the definition is too static to be correct.  If we can have 40 plus identifiers for gender; it stands to reason family can have a bigger, better definition.

A family is no longer just those people that raised us.

With a divorce rate of 39%, single-parent households are common, how the hell can we consider that definition relevant?  We all know that “two parents rearing their children” is not required to make a happy, healthy family.



A family is as easy to define as the ocean is to empty with a spoon.

A family is as fluid as the ocean.  Family can no longer be put into a neat little can alongside all the other cans.  If you want a big box store definition of the family, please look elsewhere.

I have family that just met my son around his 16th birthday.

Can those people even be considered as “family”?

On the other hand, we have friends, that have known our son since he was born. Friends that have been there for us in the spectacular and dark times.

He calls them his Aunt and Uncle even though they share no DNA.

Each one of us defines family in our own way.

This definition may change over time, but that is the beauty of the unit of a family.  In the end, it comes down to just a few things:

  • The ones that we feel comfortable around,
  • Those who are there for us during our times of need, and
  • The people that we would go to the ends of the earth for

Sometimes brother and sisters, or even parents move to different states or even other countries.  Often it is ourselves that move far away.   Time and distance can make having a close relationship hard.

Why then should we not make our own extended family?

Final thoughts

A family does not have to be the people we were raised by or with.

Family can be and should be those that love us and cherish us for who we are.  Those that push us to be the best possible person we are meant to be.

A family is about love and acceptance;  about finding a sense of home; a family is that place to belong to. 

Surround yourself with people that lift you up, and you will have found your family.

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