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What does Family mean to you?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says the word ‘family’? Consulting a dictionary tells us that the definition of family is, “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household”. A second definition is, “all the descendants of a common ancestor”. However, as our we enter the 21st century, the definition starts to take on a much broader scope.

The Modern Family

Different types of families

Families today come in a variety of shapes, sizes, ethnicities and genders. Perhaps it’s time to re-engineer what the word means. As per the TV show ‘Modern Family’, today’s family truly defies the traditional meaning. Today it could mean single parent households, multi-generational, a child-less couple, same-gender couples with children, and couples with adopted children to name a few. Gone are the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ where the only concept of family is a mother and father with two children. Today’s meaning is much more open and inclusive.

Sometimes though, the bonds you create with people in your life can be just as important as blood relatives. Families can be chosen too. We all know the saying, “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family”. But I think you can. Your family can be the people in your life that you want to consider as family.

Human beings are social creatures and families are very important to our social structure. They add stability, financial security, happiness, emotional security and a general feeling of belonging and well being. Communities benefit from the family unit as it is relieved of the burden of supporting people who need the extra help.

Let’s look at the 2nd definition of family. Our prehistoric ancestors were also very social. The caveman version of family was a tribal unit. They lived in a very communal setting and quite often traveled together as a unit to seek alternative living areas when the seasons dictated. Research indicates that these ancient tribal communities were polygamous, and children were raised in a much more communal-style setting. Some social anthropologists would agree that human beings as a species are not meant to be monogamous.

The Mother of everyone Alive Today

Ever heard of “Mitochondrial Eve”?  Anthropological scientists believe all humans alive share a common ancestry. We carry evidence of this ancestry in our DNA. We all carry a 47th chromosome that resides in the mitochondria which is also found in an unbroken line of matriarchal ancestors stretching back to Africa. Scientists have identified this ancestor from 150,000 years ago as being related to all of us. She is the mother of everyone alive today. This woman is Mitochondrial Eve. In the truest scientific sense, we are truly all family.

Some of you are lucky enough to be living in a country or provinces/states that have a designated national Family Day like in Canada, South Africa, Vietnam and Uruguay to name a few. No matter what your definition of family is, make the time to spend it with the people you love and care about. What could you be doing with your family? Skiing and snowboarding at your local ski resort? Sleeping in and enjoying a nice brunch? Spending time together hiking a local trail with your family members and family pet? Whatever it is you choose to do, no matter who you do it with, you will be spending it with family. Guaranteed.


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