How Do You Define Family?

COMMENTARY

How Do You Define Family?

Jenny Guadagno, Guest Columnist

The textbook definition of ‘family’ likely revolves around genetics. Typically, the first answers that come to mind when asked what family means would be someone’s parents, brothers, sisters, and so on. But the world has come to realize that family is not limited by blood. While no one can choose whom they are born with, they have the power to choose the people they most rely on, mutually care for, share their lives with… the people they call family.

Biological families are often messy. After all, it is essentially a lottery in which mostly random individuals are jumbled together in the same house and told to get along. Nevermind sharply contrasting personalities, beliefs, identities — everyone gets a ticket, and that decides their entire character, their life story. On the flip side, it is not unusual for people to have never met some of their relatives, raising the question of what they would do for these strangers that they have not once interacted with. Of course, a person’s relatives can form strong bonds and embody these familial traits of unconditional care and love, and these people are very much included in the word ‘family.’ But I believe the term stretches beyond the people who share your genes: to friends, teammates, pets, and more. I define family as the people that you willingly surround yourself with and share a mutual bond of care with, that support you, that shape you into a better person and let you do the same for them… whether that includes your relatives or not.