Traditionally, family has been perceived as the nuclear family. A mom, a dad, and two kids. But in more recent times that has shifted dramatically.   

May 15th is the day we celebrate International Family Day or the International Day of Families. According to a Family Day speech by Alvin Botes, head of social development in the Northern Cape, “This day highlights the importance of families. It aims at fostering equality, bringing a fuller sharing of domestic responsibilities and employment opportunities.” 

What does family mean to you?

Family means different things to different people. For instance, my family used to comprise of my mom, dad, brother and me. Now it’s my parents, my brother, my three little cousins and me. Our little family has grown quite a bit as my parents decided to foster my cousins. 

Someone else’s family may have a completely different dynamic. You could grow up with your mother and sister. You could grow up with your grandparents. Some families experience remarriages which results in stepfamilies/ blended families. 

Family means different things to different people. Some may even consider their friends part of the family. 

Today, with the progression of society, same-sex couples have the opportunity to create their own families and they can also adopt or foster. 

Why is International Family Day important?

I think being part of a group of people that not only loves and cares for you, but also has your best interest at heart should certainly be celebrated. There is so much cruelty in the world but on the other side of the spectrum there can be so much love too. 

Each individual member forms part of the family and you certainly mean something. Your presence is felt and will always be felt. 

Family Challenges

All families have their ups and downs. Some family members may suffer from substance abuse; some family members experience domestic violence. Some may face mental health problems.

If you’re not doing okay, ask someone that you trust to lend you a helping hand; all you have to do is ask. If you think that your family might need more assistance it is always best to seek outside help from a professional. 

My own personal experiences of family

As stated before, I grew up in a very traditional household. Just my parents, brother and me. When my cousins moved in, I can’t say that it was easy. The kids were going to have my bedroom and I needed to move to the separate entrance out back. Yes, having my own space is nice, but I knew that all the attention would be on the kids now and not so much on me and my brother. And call me selfish, but I was quite sad about it for some time.

The youngest cousin was only a few months old when he moved in with us. I had no idea how to take care of a baby; it was such a learning curve. It was also very stressful. He was a sickly child unfortunately and would constantly cry since he was not well. One didn’t get much sleep to be honest. 

Now, thankfully, he is much better and my relationship with all three kids is way better too. I now understand how the dynamics of a family can change so suddenly, and appreciate how my relationship with my cousins has grown so that they are more like younger siblings to me now. And they have helped me grow as a person. 

I wouldn’t know what I’d do without my family, and I hope you feel the same way about yours.

“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.”  – Anonymous 


Learn more here about how to spot a toxic family member.

Tell us: What does family mean to you?