What is family?
By definition, it is simply a term to describe a biological connection between individuals.
However, it means so much more than just basic genetics!
Human beings are social creatures and we require more than just biologically related relatives to nurture our emotional and mental health.
The idea of family doesn’t have to be complicated. A family is about mutual love, respect, and having a deep connection.
Think about it this way: How often do you refer to someone distant as a relative and someone close as family?
We’ve already started moving away from the idea that a family can be strictly defined. But what is a chosen family?
Have you ever thought of someone as “like a brother” or a family like a “second family?” Then you have a chosen family!
Let’s take a closer look at what a chosen family is and how it can benefit you and your children:
What is a Chosen Family?
A chosen family is exactly how it sounds – a family you choose.
However, this doesn’t necessarily that you go out and choose a whole new set of parents, siblings, children, etc.
It simply means embracing someone as a family member that is not biologically or maritally related to you.
For example, your best friend may become your child’s “aunt” or your friendly neighbor may become your child’s “nanny.”
My best friend’s cousins are my cousins even though we are not biologically related.
The idea of having a family by choice is a broad one, with no clear-cut definition.
All in all, your chosen family is what you make it!
What Does a Chosen Family Look Like?
Again, a chosen and non-biological family can look like many things!
It can be your best friend’s mother who is like a mom to you. It can be a familiar figure you can turn to when you don’t feel accepted by your own family.
It can be a group of people who fulfill many roles or one person who is closer to you than your own family.
Even if your needs are met by your biological family, you can still surround yourself with chosen family members.
The Benefits of Choosing Your Family
When you have chosen family members, you open yourself and your child to love, safety, and belonging.
Not everyone has a perfect biological family and oftentimes we feel obligated to love them simply because we are related by blood.
Because you get to choose your family of choice, you are allowing yourself an opportunity to form close connections with people who truly love you for who you are!
These are the people who don’t have to be there – they choose to be! They are present in your life because they want to be and they have earned that right through love and trust.
All of this can benefit your mental health because you are genuinely wanted and cared for. It can also help when you feel isolated or alone, especially if you don’t have close related family members to support you during times of stress.
Stepparents and the Idea of Chosen Family
When a parent marries later in a child’s life, there is no obligation on the behalf of the child to accept this individual as a parent.
In fact, many stepparents struggle to define their role because they don’t want to “replace” another parent or overstep their bounds when it comes to parenting, authority, and discipline.
However, stepparents can grow into the role by nurturing their relationship with the child and developing a foundation of mutual respect and affection.
Over time, this can develop into a chosen family situation where the child accepts the stepparent as a “chosen” parent without negating the relationship they have with their existing parent.
Chosen Families and Kids
When it comes to establishing a chosen family for your kids, it’s important to take into account their relationship with the other person.
For instance, you don’t want to force your child to accept someone as an “aunt” if they do not feel a connection with that person.
And be wary of those who force themselves into those roles! Again, a chosen family is nurtured and based on love and respect.
The old lady across the street can’t title herself “granny” and expect your children to accept this just because she loves kids!
Family doesn’t have to be defined by biological relationships but chosen family members must earn the right.
You Can Choose Your Own Family!
Isn’t that amazing? Even if you have an awesome biological family, you can supplement the love and support you receive with unrelated individuals who love you unconditionally!
Do you have a chosen family? Who do you consider to be a non-biological part of your family? Let us know in the comments!