Broken to Blended: Expanding the Definition of Family
Society often presents the image of “family” as a heterosexual couple with children. This narrative has been fed to us through film, television, books, magazines, and other forms of media for decades. It fails to properly account for what we know to be true, though. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Thankfully, culture has progressed and we are moving from pejorative and judgemental terms like “Broken Home” to those like “Blended”. These terms allow for the breadth and depth of what family actually is.
Expanding the Definition of Family
The Vanier Institute’s definition: a family consists of any combination of two or more people, bound together over time, by ties of mutual consent and/or birth, adoption or placement, and who take responsibility for various activities of daily living, including love.
These families can be nuclear, extended, or chosen. According to the SAGE Encyclopedia of Marriage, Family, and Couples Counseling, “chosen families are nonbiological kinship bonds, whether legally recognized or not, deliberately chosen for the purpose of mutual support and love.” The term originated within the LGBTQ community and was used to describe early queer gatherings, like the Harlem Drag Balls of the late nineteenth century. All of these are valid.
Love is defined as “a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend”. February brings about Valentine’s Day celebrations, and we encourage everyone to use this broad definition. Love, like family, doesn’t just look like one thing, dynamic, or group. By expanding the definition and recognizing a more broad spectrum of families, we are better able to recognize and appreciate a broader spectrum of love.