What is family?
The definition of family in the traditional sense is "a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not." Family definitions vary, however, and there are more kinds of families than just the traditional family unit. When we hear the word, "family," we often think of a person's immediate blood-related family members.
What kinds of families are there?
- There are many kinds of families. Family can relate to any of the following:
- Nuclear or traditional families
- Extended family (family members outside of your immediate family)
- Single-parent families (families with only one parental figure present)
- Childless families
- Family by choice (which is often comprised of a group of people that aren't related by blood such as friends and romantic partners)
All families are unique and have different structures, traditions, and ways of being. Some people have an excellent, stable relationship with their nuclear or traditional family, whereas other people consider their central family to be the people that they chose to include in their lives as a part of their family by choice.
What if I'm not close to my immediate family?
If you're not close to your immediate family, it's okay. You may find yourself building a family of your own or establishing a family of choice with those who are not related by blood. Not everyone is born into a stable family environment, and ultimately, you have to do what's best for you. Particularly if your family is or was abusive, you may find yourself straying from them, and that is perfectly okay and healthy. It doesn't make you "less than," and it doesn't mean that you won't have close connections in life with people that you consider family. Family, again, can mean so many different things. Having close connections and a healthy level of support is what matters the most.
Conflict in families
All families fight from time to time, but if your household feels uneasy on a continual basis, it might be time to see a therapist. You can see a therapist or counselor on an individual level and talk about family issues and any other stressors in your life, or you can decide to see a mental health provider together as a family. A marriage and family therapist can help you learn to work together as a unit and resolve issues together. In therapy, your family members will all get a chance to speak their mind. You will get to know your family members better and will learn how to ensure that everyone's needs are met and that everyone is heard.
What if my family doesn't like my spouse or partner?
Let's say that you are in a healthy committed relationship with your partner that is truly good for you, but is not supported by your family. Family members often have strong opinions about the spouses of the individuals within the unit. Particularly if this is an issue within your immediate family, they may voice their opinions in a way that is hurtful to you. In this case, what you can do is set a boundary with your family. Family members don't always make it easy to set boundaries. However, you have every right to do so and don't need to do it in a way that is unkind or abrasive.
Therapy is an excellent place to work through family issues of any kind. When it comes to family, family therapists are likely your best bet in terms of what to look for when finding a new provider. However, if you are looking to talk to someone one on one about other issues, you might explore other options that are more unique to your needs. Whether you see someone online or in your local area, it's important to ask for help when you need it. The providers at Regain are here to help you and your family members work through any obstacles so that you can maintain a healthy family unit.