Everybody defines family differently. In my world family has several meanings. There is my (lower case) family, my relatives, which includes several tiers and my FAMILY, which are the people I will do anything for and I know will do anything for me. Most of my family are included in my FAMILY, but other people find their way into that second group as well.
The tiers of the (lower case) family extend out from closest/immediate to distant relatives. As our circumstances change different people move in and out of different tiers. When you’re a kid that first tier is you parents and siblings. When you get married and have kids of your own, they move into the first tier and the siblings each form their own sets of tiers with their own immediate families. For those who don’t marry and have kids, the first tier might remain parents and siblings or might change completely to friends and co-workers.
For me the first tier includes my husband, our children and our parents. The next tier is our siblings and nieces and nephews and the third tier is generally other people we’re related to, aunts uncles cousins etc. That third group is enormous for us. Those delineations are not hard and fast, just general descriptions. Obviously the interaction is less among those in the furthest tiers. Each of them have their own responsibilities in their own immediate families. It is pleasant to hear from them and catch up on things, but they are generally not part of my everyday life.
Then there is my FAMILY – the people I count on and those who count on me. That includes my immediate family and siblings and to some extent nieces and nephews. I say "to some extent" because they are growing up, moving away and changing their lives. They will develop their own closer circles, relegating me to a more distant tier. That's the way it's supposed to work.I say "to some extent" because they are growing up, moving away and changing their lives. They will develop their own closer circles, relegating me to a more distant tier. That's the way it's supposed to work. It also includes friends who have been there for me in hard times. There are some people out there that I KNOW will pick me up if I fall. That is comforting. It comes with responsibility, though. I have to be prepared to be there for them too. I am and I will.
Because everyone has different people in their FAMILY they might not understand why “person x” is in mine. That’s ok. I don’t have to explain it and probably couldn’t if I wanted to. Besides, if they’re asking why, I know “person x” cannot rely on them and perhaps needs me even more.
No matter how big or small your family is, everybody needs someone in their FAMILY.