June is National Family Month. I didn’t know until a friend told me which leads to the topic of this post. While we can’t choose the families we come from, we can create “families of choice” comprised of people who support us in our life’s journey. Of course, it’s wonderful when part of our “family of choice” is a parent, sibling, cousin or relative but this is not always the case.
First, let me emphasize that the intention of creating a “family of choice” is not to alienate or upset our “families of origin.” Although I am not particularly close to my siblings, I am friendly and accepting of them. If we were not related by blood, it’s unlikely we’d associate with each other. Learning to accept our differences and the limitations of our relationships has helped me grow as a person.
It’s enabled me to understand that just because someone is part of your family, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be close to them even though we grow up thinking this. In some families, people need to distance themselves from parents, siblings and other relatives who are a negative influence on them or abusive. Still, it’s hard to abandon the idea of having a caring, connected relationship with close relatives. However, sacrificing our own emotional health to preserve an unhealthy connection is not a good option.
This is where “families of choice” come in. These are the individuals-friends, teachers, co-workers, we bring into our lives because we want to and feel there is something to be gained from each other. They are supportive, caring, mutually nourishing, and growth enhancing. They are not one-sided, negative or abusive. They help us feel good about ourselves and we do the same for them.
Who is in your “family of choice?” How are they different from your “family of origin?” What do you think of this idea?