Family. A single and powerful word.
According to the dictionary, the primary definition of family is “a group of people who are related to each other, often living in the same household; a group of related people.”
“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”, states actor, Michael J. Fox.
Over the years, I have met countless numbers of people who say, “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile. It’s about who is willing to stand beside you when you need it the most.”
Parents for Children’s Mental Health, a family empowerment group in Ontario, Canada, further confirms that the term family is not always about blood relations. They say, “Family is a circle of care and support which offers enduring commitment to care for one another, related either biologically, emotionally or legally and takes into account those who the person identifies as significant to his or her well-being.”
How do you define family and why does it matter?
During the most trying times, such as a sudden illness, an unexpected diagnosis, or the death of a loved one, is when we rely on other people the most. It’s important to know whom you can count on for support. Subsequently, it’s often during those challenging periods when you discover who those people truly are.
Based on my experience and from what I have heard from others, it seems there are certain standards or benchmarks that we impose in order to consider people as family. It’s often the folks who make a greater effort or take the time to give you a call, drop by for a visit or listen without judgment. Family is the people who consider the complexities of your situation and will surrender their personal ambitions or desires so that you can be supported or feel emotionally secure.
Family may be found in many places such as where you work, go to school, participate on a sports team, the neighborhood in which you live, the coffee shop you may frequent, a committee of which you are a member, or any other facet of your life.
Take a moment to think about the people in your life whom you regard as family. This is important because in times of need, many people feel isolated and alone. If you know whom to call upon for support or assistance, you will have a greater chance of feeling comforted, resilient and emotionally strong.
Ideally, it would be bliss if our biological relationships would be positive and close-knit. The reality is, however, that conflicts arise and blood relatives become distant and grow apart. It’s good to know that there are other people around for you to lean on.
Remember, you can choose your friends. You can also choose your family.