We can’t choose our families, nor do we have any control over the family structures and environments we’re born into. While it can be special to have a healthy and happy family bond, it’s unfortunately not always possible for everyone. When your biological family lets you down or doesn’t show you love and respect, you don’t have to be alone or accept less than what you deserve. You can always work to find your chosen family.
What is a Chosen Family?
The concept of chosen family refers to a group of people one chooses to identify as family members. A chosen family typically is not related, but have been able to build the love, closeness, and connection they may not have received from their family of origin, the family they were born into. It might look like seeing your friends as siblings or feeling someone serves as a healthy mother or father figure.
A chosen family is a support system. They stand in for the missing places that otherwise would have been filled by your biological family.
The Myth of Unconditional Family Loyalty
You may have heard the phrase, “blood is thicker than water.” It’s a popular saying that essentially means that family is more important than those you are not related to. While many people identify with that concept, it can have harmful implications that you need to stand by your family no matter what. That might sound harmless in theory, but what if your family is abusive and disrespectful? You should never have to put up with abuse no matter what the relationship is with the person hurting you.
Someone being related to you does not give them license to continuously hurt you. For example, some in the LGBTQ+ community are made to feel like they are wrong for their sexual orientation and have to hide an important aspect of their identity due to their family’s beliefs. Many make the difficult choice to disassociate from their family of origin in order to find a chosen family who will love them for who they are.
Finding Your Chosen Family
While there is beauty in finding your chosen family, it doesn’t mean you aren’t going through real grieving of your biological family. There will likely be a lot of emotional processing and grief along the way, but your emotional health and wellbeing will likely improve the more you surround yourself with people who treat you the way families should.
Finding your chosen family is all about hand selecting the people you believe deserve to be a part of your inner circle and support system. One way someone can find members of their chosen family is to engage in communities or organizations you care about. You might look into local meetups, events, support groups, online forums, or anywhere else you think you might find like-minded people.
It’s important to note that finding your chosen family isn’t a short process and make take a long time. This might be frustrating, but ensuring you’re vetting and choosing the right people who deserve you is a task that helps not to be taken lightly. This is on your own terms and you get to decide what defines family.