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Redefining family this holiday season

The definition of family is "a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit". So what happens to this family when you become an adult and no longer live as a "unit"? Adults (some who now have families of their own) are challenged to navigate changing relationships with the people they lived with for the first 18 years (on average) of their life. No longer depending on these relationships for survival, adults get to redefine what family means to them.

For many of us, we look for and expect unconditional love from our families. We want to be loved freely, without conditions, without a script to follow. Some children are lucky enough to be loved unconditionally by their families. Adult children who didn't receive this kind of love are now free to choose how to move forward in those relationships. This freedom doesn't come easy, though, as we are still conditioned to follow the scripts of what we SHOULD be doing.

Choosing freedom and living intentionally is hard, especially when it comes to families. If your family (the one you were a part of as a child) brings you more pain than joy, you may have made the difficult decision to cut ties. With the holidays approaching, this is a difficult time of year for many. While we have the freedom to celebrate however we wish, it can be painful to move forward without the family we were born into.

Regardless of your relationship status with your first families, now is a great time to redefine what family means to you. Are you now a parent yourself? What do you want to make sure you provide for your children? Do you want them to feel loved unconditionally (I hope all of you parents reading this are nodding your heads 'yes'!)? And...if unconditional love is the foundation of how you choose to define family moving forward, can you CHOOSE a new family? Sometimes friends become family; and when they do, they make the best family.

How will you celebrate the holidays this year? You have the freedom to choose what you will do and with whom you will celebrate. If the same old holiday script doesn't sound good/healthy/safe to you, write a new one. Go somewhere new, organize a holiday party with your chosen families, get involved in the community and volunteer somewhere...the opportunities are endless. Just remember-you have the freedom to choose. Make sure your holidays are filled with love.

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