Or can you? Society generally considers our family to be our biological relations. However, some families – whether through adoption or remarriage – do not have biological ties. Many native cultures have tribes – these are communities comprised of people linked by social, economic, religious and/or blood ties. The word family means a group living together in a household or all the descendants of a common ancestor. If we go back in time far enough, it is likely many of us not considered to be related share common ancestors. Other definitions of family (e.g., Hawaiian ohana) are in an extended sense and include blood-related, adoptive or intentional.

Family is really about providing loving relationships to support our growth – biological, social and emotional. Some have difficulty receiving the kind of love and support they need from blood ties, so it helps to have other people in their lives that can provide that. Therefore, the extended, intentional sense of the concept is really more appropriate. We can build our own families and, using intention, surround ourselves with people that enrich our lives!

I have a tribe – a small circle of people that includes both friends and blood relatives. I don’t have much of a relationship with some of my biological relations, and with those I do, I don’t get to see them very often. Therefore, I consider some of my closest friends my brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, etc. These “supplemental” family members provide connections I need in my life, particularly during tough times when I need more support.

You CAN pick your family. You don’t have to limit yourself to those traditionally considered to be your relations just because society says that is who is included. You get to choose who is most important to you, who you surround yourself with, who is in your ohana, pack or tribe. Our time here is uncertain and precious – so doesn’t spending it with those that love and support you the way you need it – whether biologically related or not – make sense? Who helps you on your journey to your best self? Reach out and let them know you appreciate them being part of your family!

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