“Family” is typically defined as people who are related to you by blood or marriage. It includes your spouse, kids, parents, siblings, sister-in-law, etc.

But my definition of “family” goes beyond tradition and includes others.

My definition includes dear friends who I trust and enjoy being around. They’re friends who have celebrated my successes and supported me through difficult times.

My definition also includes those I once was related to by marriage. After a divorce, is it required to cut ties with your ex’s family members even though there was a bond?

I chose not to cut ties with some and continued to nurture those relationships.

My definition also includes my pet, a huge part of my life. I spend more time with my pet than I do with my spouse (mainly because every day is “bring your dog to work” day for me).

From life, I’ve learned some relationships are hard to categorize. Some social media sites request you to identify relationships by putting a label on the individual.

But I won’t conform to the traditional definition of “family.” The scars on my soul have permitted me to decide who I think is close enough to call “family.”

Some family members say, “Friends come and go, but family will always be there for you.” Unfortunately, my experience has shown that statement to be untrue.

I have family members who have no idea what’s happening in my life. For those individuals, I say we’re “related.”

I reserve the term “family” for those who are there and make an effort to stay in touch with me. These individuals are important to me. They understand relationships go both ways.

They share laughter.

They share celebrations.

They share sorrow.

They share many moments with me.

For me, I don’t see “family” as a classification but more as a term of endearment.

Do you use the traditional definition for “family,” or have you expanded your definition?

Do you have close friends you consider as “family?”

Do you include your pet as part of the family?

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter what term you use, just as long as they know you value them.

(Update to original post from June 26, 2017)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”