‘Family’ is a single word, with many different meanings. People have many ways of defining a family and what being a part of a family means to them. Families differ in terms of economic, cultural, social, and many other facets, but what every family has in common is that the people who call it a family are making clear that those people are important in some way to the person calling them his family.
Many people consider friends to be as close or even closer than extended (or immediate) family. People who have lost close family members may create a family unit of friends with similar interests and goals to become replacements or enhancements to a lacking family structure. This type of family unit, while untraditional, can be just as close, if not closer, than a traditional structure.
Rather than simply defining family by a dictionary definition, each individual should look to define a family by his own standards, enriching the dictionary’s definition. You can have several families in your lifetime, even several families at once if you choose. Regardless of how you choose to define your family unit, whether it is traditional or unique, your definition is of the family unit that works for you. As the saying goes, “Family is what you make it.” Whether made of blood relatives, friends, or pets, or a combination of these, your family can offer you the support you need to thrive.