‘Family’ – Why we need a better definition


A beautiful word. A loving word. An innocent word. A word that makes you infinitely bonded to others. A word that reminds you of troubles. A word that is loaded with hard memories. A  word that triggers feelings of loss. A word that you long to long to have in your life…

I started hearing the word family immediately after my son was born. People would congratulate us on our little family. It felt wonderful, to be described as a family, but it also got me thinking – “Were we not already a family before?


I mean, there was love within our unit, my husband and I were married and so legally we were ‘indefinitely’ bound… We had nieces ad nephews that we shared. We shared a name, our home and holidayed together. I always thought we were a little family unit, but in hindsight, realise that this term was never used by others when we were childless. Were the two of us not enough to be called a family?

I went digging for a definition of the word… (okay, I was googling, and yes, sometimes an internet search does take you to strange places but I haven’t bought a dictionary for at least 15 years and these definitions would most certainly be outdated)

Top of my search were these definitions from a few online dictionaries (referenced on each slide):

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I was surprised at how completely outdated the main definitions were which appeared to exclude the different types of family that we see today and only seemed to focus on one particular set up: where there is a mother, a father and children.

Now, I’m sure that we ALL know that families are not all like this… The definition does not include single parent families, childless families, LGBT families, those not in a single household and what about pets?

I looks like it’s time for us to redefine what the word ‘family’ is… But how? What should it be?

I feel like the main definition needs much more flexibility and inclusivity. It’s no longer good enough for our first thought of family to be man + woman + child. A better definition is needed to recognise that family is not just for people who are related by blood, but should include those who are bound by law; or those who choose co-habitation. At the very least…

For me, personally, I’ve always seen myself and my husband as a family unit. Before, we comprised of two, and now we are three. Our family has grown with the arrival of our son, we haven’t just become one.

pembroke family

What are your thoughts on the word family? How would you define it?

Big love!


Collinsdictionary.com. (2019). Family definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/family [Accessed 20 May 2019].
Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2019). family | Definition of family in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/family [Accessed 20 May 2019].
Dictionary.cambridge.org. (2019). FAMILY | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/family [Accessed 20 May 2019].

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