Family – by birth or by choice

familyWe are all born into a ‘family’. You can argue as to what exactly a family is and, if you type “definition of family” into your search bar, like I did, you’ll get 422,000,000 answers in .56 seconds or so to help confuse that definition.

We each have our own idea regarding the meaning of family. I am among those who believe that family isn’t necessarily the group of people you happened to be born into, but can be the individuals you choose to make a part of your nuclear group. I also firmly believe that family is not two parents and 2.5 children with a nice house, picket fence and dog running around the yard. Families come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. Family is made up of love, honour and respect. It has no genetic definers. To me, family are the people who come to mind when you hit a stumbling block in life. Who do you want to reach out to? Who comes to mind first?

One of my earlier posts told of a particular incident during my childhood, a childhood that I choose to call disruptive rather than disfunctional. Again, it’s symantics, but I don’t believe there is truly a functional family around. It may not be within your core group, but as your particular family branches out, there is certain to be disfunction in some form. My choice of the term disruptive stems from the fact that just as life seems to be moving along smoothly, ‘family’ does something to disrupt it. This repetative action led me to determine that family doesn’t have to be the traditional, dictionary-defined group of people we are expected to embrace as our ‘clan’. I have people in my life that I refer to as family, simply because we have the same bloodlines. Amongst those are some who, given other circumstances, would be considered ‘acquaintances’. We rarely see each other, and our only connection is our ancestry. To me, this is the world’s definition of family, not mine.

Then there are those who I consider family, but who gained this status not by a conscious decision on my part, but by being there through some of the toughest times in my life. They stood by me, to offer help when needed, or to simply be a presence in my life when I needed one. I can also be completely honest and say there are undoubtedly people in my life who consider me family, but whom I place outside of my core family group, or tribe.

I have friends from early childhood who I consider family, not because of the length of time I’ve known them, but because there is a kinship that goes much deeper than friendship. I am honoured to call these individuals my brother and sister.

There are people with whom I’ve reconnected in the past few years, after about many years of no contact at all, and yet I feel a closeness with them that I may not necessarily feel with people I am blood-related to. The connection may be due to similar life experiences, but this to me, is the feeling of family.


I’m fully aware that I tend to put up emotional walls and I’m also aware that it is a direct result of my childhood. I don’t necessarily hide behind those walls, to me it is more of a protective screen to block out those who are insincere in their actions. Those who take the time needed to find out who I really am, they are the ones allowed to pass beyond those walls. Do they all then become family, or a part of my ‘tribe’? No, I’m not going to say that they do, because that wouldn’t be the truth. While I was born into a very large family, I choose to have a very small ‘tribe’. I can also honestly say that members have been welcomed into my tribe for a period of time, and then moved on. While it’s difficult to do that with family to which we have a blood connection, it’s meant to happen within our chosen families.

As I grow older, I have determined that there are very few, if any, places left open in my tribe. I have no doubt I’ll develop more friendships and have many more aquaintances in my lifetime, but I’m quite happy with the family I’ve chosen. I know it won’t remain exactly as it is at the moment, but right here, right now, I feel it’s exactly as it’s suppose to be.


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