Musings About Family

– Linda Manwarren | Chair, Wellness Committee, ARTA

What does “family” mean to you? The word family came into the English language during the fifteenth century from the Latin word famulus, meaning household. Over time, our understanding of family has changed. The Government of Canada now defines a family as a group of two or more persons (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together. Some individuals define family as relatives who share their home. Others consider blood relatives near and far as family, while still others view their beloved circle of friends or their pets as family members.

I believe the shared love, commitment, and support found in all these groups are key. Which brings me to what I call my “family of the heart,” another very important type of family. This broad perspective on the word family is important to me largely because my biological family is spread far and wide, and I am married without children.

The interdependence or linking of lives that is a hallmark of families everywhere is evident in my family of the heart and demonstrates the dynamics of a strong family. There is a commitment to each other as shown in an investment of time and energy. A genuine affection guides communication so that it is positive and affirming, and yet challenges me to grow when necessary. When stress or crises occur, we pull together and support each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our guiding values and commitments to important causes come into alignment. Notably, our recent experiences with the pandemic and its restrictions on social interactions heighten our awareness of the importance of family, however you define it.

I know my life is richer through my family of the heart.