What Does Family Mean to You: The Multiple Definitions

What Does Family Mean to You: The Multiple Definitions

It is essential to note that a family may appear to be a simple concept to most individuals, but definitely, there is not one exclusive definition for it. In fact, when you ask the question “What does family mean to you?” randomly, you will get different and several answers.

When we talk about children, it is quite easy to say that family is a child’s very first relationship because right from the very first moment in their life, they depend on their parents and family for protection and to provide them with all their needs. Every member of the family also acts as a teacher and a role model.

On another note, in the most basic terms, a family is defined as a group of individuals that share a bond either genetically or legally to each other, but not everyone can agree to this.

With that said, let’s dig deeper into the concept of family.

What is a Family?

Before we can talk about the meaning of a family in a broader sense, let’s briefly look into the basic definition of a family and also the different kinds of a family today.

The Basic Definition

As we mentioned earlier, when we talk about the most basic definition of family, it is often said that it is a group of people who share a legal or blood bond.

  • Blood Bond

These are individuals who are related directly through a common ancestor. They include close as well as distant relatives like parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and so on. An ideal way to know about all your familial blood bonds is by creating a family tree.

  • Legal Bond

Individuals who are bound through adoptions, guardianships, and marriages, including duties, rights, and the obligation of those legal contracts, in particular, are called a family through a legal bond. Unlike blood bond, legal bond families can be expanded, changed, or even dissolved.

However, as mentioned earlier, family means far more than just this, especially in this day and age, where the meaning of family constantly seems to be evolving. For many, a family goes above and beyond legal and blood bonds.

The Types of Families

The meaning of a family for an individual wholly depends on the type of family he or she belongs to. There are a lot of different types of families these days, and each of them is equally a supportive and viable caring unit. Some of these include:

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  • Nuclear Family

This is also known as a conjugal family and composed of parents and their children who live together under one roof and share a close bond.

  • Extended Family

Extended or joint family refers to the family that includes all of the relatives in close proximity which include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. In an extended family, all these relatives live together under one roof and share all the daily household duties together.

  • Foster Family

This kind of family involves either one or more parents that serve as a temporary guardian to either one or more children. They may or may not be biologically related, but in most cases, they are not. It is possible in time for a more formal arrangement to be made, wherein the foster children will be legally adopted.

  • Step Family

People with kids who have remarried after a divorce or after a death of a spouse and bring their children together to form a new nuclear family is called a stepfamily.

  • Complex Family

This kind of family is a fairly new concept. This typically is a family where there are either three or more adults along with their children. This kind of family may be formed either through remarriage or divorce or polygamy in certain societies. Such families can be complex even without any formal legal bonds.

  • Adoptive Family

Becoming increasingly common, an adoptive family is a family that does not share any genetic bonds but only legal bonds. This is where two parents are able to adopt a child with whom they do not share any blood relationship with.

In certain countries, it can also be just a single parent adopting a child. These families can also be formed without legal bonds and solely on the basis of emotional and a spiritual bond.

  • Traditional Family

This kind of family is what you would call the textbook definition of a family wherein the father goes to work and the mother is a housewife and tends to the children. This strict definition of a family is not as common in urban areas or a modern society.

What Does Family Mean to You?

It can be said that there is no such thing called a “normal” family anymore because today, everyone’s preference and lifestyle are very different from one another. To say that a family consists of a mother, father, and their children have now almost become a stereotype and are not entirely true.

A family is one where you are with a group of individuals or even a person, and you are truly happy with them. These individuals are those whom you can share your deepest and darkest fears and yet not worry about receiving any shame or humiliation back in return. A family even doesn’t necessarily need to have parents since some people call their very close friends, with whom they do not share any legal and blood bonds, a family.


At the end of the day, you should be truly comfortable with who you are with and also feel safe and secure with them. As such, when we talk about Why is family important, they are basically the individuals who we accept wholeheartedly in our lives and who accept us without hesitations.

No one can define a family for you other than yourself, and for every individual, their family is normal since it is them who live their lives. So, it is essential to be proud of your family no matter what and even if it does not ever classify as a normal kind of family. Additionally, with the many definitions and types of families, what is essential is to respect each one’s opinion. As to what makes a family strong, read here to know more.