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Definition of Family

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Definition of Family

Defying the concept of family is challenging because it can have various meanings for different individuals. For many people, a family can be one in a traditional sense with two heterosexual partners related to each other by the ties of marriage, living together with their blood related children. For many other people a family can be one with two partners of the same sex with adopted children, one with a single parent, one with multiple families living together in the same house, one with a couple without children, or one with cohabitating partners with or without children. As the time goes by, the family structure and definition of family changes also. Statistics Canada (2015) defines census family as a married couple with or without children, a common-law couple with or without children, a single parent of any marital status with at least one child living together in the same house, and a family made up of grandchildren living with their grandparents in the absence of the parents. A couple may be of same or opposite sex and children may be biological, adopted or stepchildren coming from previous relationships. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate my understanding of the meaning of family based on my experiences over the years and how this definition is constantly changing due to changes in our society. Finally, I will share my definition of family and the theoretical foundation I found most helpful to explain it. Three photos were selected from Google images by entering “family” and “family with pets” search terms to describe my sense of family at this point in time.

My Experiences with Family

In recent weeks, since I started this course, I had the opportunity to talk with my family, friends, and coworkers about what family means to them. My daughter, who is 26 years old and still living with us, described family as being the bond that we share regardless of being related to each other, which cannot be broken because its main characteristics are unconditional love and support. Some of my friends described family as people who you feel emotionally connected to, with whom you do not need to be blood related, someone you trust, love, and share the same values. Some coworkers said that family means to have someone who you count on, comfort you whenever you are having blues, cheer when you accomplish something, and spend quality time with. There are clearly many different and very personal definitions of family depending of everyone’s experiences and values. After listening to other people’s meaning of family, I began thinking about how I would define family. My family means everything to me, the most important people in my life. I grew up in a traditional family in Romania, Europe, in a small city where everyone knows everyone. I was the only girl of three siblings, the youngest and the most pampered by my parents. I grew up in a middle class family, in a private house where I was fortunate to never encounter any material shortages. Although my parents had only high school education, their goal for their children was to be well educated and succeed in their lives even though that meant to invest a lot of money in private tutoring to be able to compete with children from bigger cities who were privileged to have better schools and teachers. They always encouraged me to keep going in life, be successful, advised me not to make mistakes that might cause any regrets, and told me all the time that there is nothing in the world that I cannot achieve if I am well educated and honest. I remember my father helping me and checking my homework on a regular basis, telling me stories about his childhood during WWII, never judging me for expressing my disagreement with the communist regimen we were living under at that point yet advising me to be less vocal about this considering the repercussions that the action might have on my future. I remember my mother coming home from work every day, cooking, doing house work, playing with us, and taking me to church every Sunday. I can say I was very fortunate to live in a family where I learned the importance of values and traditions that gave me the opportunity to develop my philosophy of how I want to live my family life, balancing the career goals and material things with having loving relationships, and passing down my values to my daughter to give her the structure in which to function and cope with failures and disappointments as my parents helped me. When I was almost twenty years of age, I married my husband and two years later our daughter was born. That was the most beautiful moment of my life. The first picture depicts the definition of my family that includes grandparents and parents with children all together, creating goals as a team, and function as a caring, secured, and loving unit. Three months after my daughter was born, a revolution started in my country with the goal of eliminating the dictatorship and corruption. Unfortunately, 15 years afterwards, corruption was even higher than before and the opportunity to evolve in that environment was null. It was the time for us to decide what we want for our family. That was the time when my definition of family was altered. We immigrated to Canada in 2006 with my daughter, my husband, and I. A few days later we added another member to our family, our lap dog Lily. After a few weeks we discovered that she was deaf and later on other health problems were revealed. Yet these just made us love her even more and she unconditionally returned her love to us. The second pictured depicts the altered definition of my family after arriving in Canada showing that family means anyone I spend substantial time with, whether it is an animal or a human being, and with whom I feel emotionally bonded and connected.

After I started going to school and working, my definition of family changed again. I came across multicultural people and I met a few families from back home with whom we became very good friends. We would meet for holidays, celebrations, or whenever we have time off and quickly we became each other’s family away from home. We are there for each other, supporting one another in any situation, preserving our traditions and language while adapting to new circumstances. The third photograph depicts a new configuration in which family can also include friends. Family means friendship, support, and love. Time and distance do nothing to diminish the bond we have with these people.

Presently I define family as a group of people who I love, care, who make each moment of my life special, people who are there for me in times of need, with whom I share my feelings and thoughts, and ask for their opinions. Family is not only defined by blood, but



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