I have been living my own journey of discovery in the experience of family for forty years now. Over these many years, the term “family” has taken on many new dimensions and meanings to me. I am a man of many kinship roles: son, brother, husband, father, friend, uncle, nephew, grandson; I have also experienced a breadth of informal family roles as well. Now, immersed in the science and practice of family care, I realize that I have never taken it upon myself to deeply and significantly contribute to the most basic social discourse: the definition of family. This is an exercise so foundational that I have all of my university students attempt to answer this question during our first class together as they begin their journey toward knowledge, not as a finite act of specificity, but rather as a means to explore an infinite reality of family.
Given the incredible international discussion on this topic, as well as recent experiences that have made me question my own basic understanding of family, I feel that I can no longer continue to participate in our collective social, academic and scientific endeavors without offering something meaningful to the discourse myself. This small document arises from my own desire to address the scientific, academic, religious, political, and social voices that seem to constantly strive to confine the definition of family to meet one agenda or another. Today I raise my voice in an effort to reflect upon and defend the great diversity and resiliency that to me, defines family. In an era of time when fear-mongers fill our ears with concerns that the influences of society are causing the destruction of the family, I stand strong to state that I wholeheartedly disagree. I offer this as an unapologetic and admittedly personal definition of what the term family has come to mean to me after four decades as a member of humanity.