What do you think of when you hear the word FAMILY? I suspect we each have our own ideas and feelings about this word. In fact, has several meanings for the word family.

What Is Family?

For me, family isn’t bonded by blood, experiences, proximity, or even values. There are many people in my family that aren’t related, have very different experiences from mine, certainly don’t live close, and even more shocking – don’t necessarily share the same values, culture, or upbringing. So what holds us together? What makes us a family?

My family – as cliché as it may sound – is connected by mutual love and respect. While we definitely disagree on many issues (mostly political), we still respect one another. Do we argue? Sure. We’ve got hot-headed Italians and stubborn Irish blood – you bet we argue! But we also talk, listen, and more importantly… we treat each other with decency, kindness, and respect. These are the building blocks for good relationships.

Sadly, relationships (of all kinds) seem to be a rarity these days. Too many people are on the defensive lately. They talk, and talk, and talk, but barely ever listen. Most of their energy is spent on defending their point rather than listening to one that differs from their own.

My word of advice… be kind to one another. Create new families. Extend your own families. We all need each other – and in the end, we’re not all that different… your family and mine, me and you.