Family Definition: Who and what defines a ‘family’? – My Column Yorkshire Evening Post

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“You could have had a family ticket,” said the woman behind the cinema kiosk, “what makes a family, anyway?” She said. She was alluding to our unconventional ‘family’ day out consisting of a single mum, friend, daughters, and a niece as we could’ve saved money by paying altogether. 

The woman spoke to my heart and pocket because what makes a family anyway? 

As someone who grew up with split parents with my mum remarrying a man and my dad remarrying a man too, I had two unconventional family homes. 

I had an abundance of love in both homes but people would question this ‘abnormal’ set-up. 

My family consisted of lots of relatives and stepfamily as well as our family friends who we saw as Aunts and Uncles. 

This was our perfectly imperfect ‘normality.’ While I look back in gratitude for the rich diversity of my upbringing, at times now as a single mum co-parenting, at times I have craved a more 2.4. dare I say it ‘normal’ life. But I realised this stemmed from bouts of loneliness when I don’t have the kids. I purposely avoided 3 pm so I don’t have to walk the wrong way on the school run.   

It is easy to focus on what you have not got in your family set up rather than redefining the term ‘family.’

This is one of the reasons why I created a community magazine Yorkshire Families (, to go against the typical ‘idea’ of a family blog being exclusive to the typical 2.4 middle-class family – but as a platform to include everyone in our region.  We redefined the definition of family with our own in-house version as: “A team of people who co-create their own community together.” 

This is the new normal. Some of the communities I envy the most are of the many fabulous social housing estates such as those I know through my local Portobello Community Centre and Inspiring Community CIC. Seeing this collaborative view of the family as a community where people support one another through childcare, food, skills, and shared lives speaks to my soul.

Portobello Community Centre, Wakefield

Now when we run a ‘family’ competition through the magazine we encourage partners to include families of all shapes and sizes.

I write this after hosting a Chinese New Year get-together of ‘sisters’ aka friends, blood relatives, and colleagues, sharing a hot pot at mine. My older biological sister actually lives in New York but I have acquired a community family.

I realise that we are all on our own perfectly imperfect journey whether we feel we are going in the right direction or not.

Whether we are creating communities of businesses collaborating, community groups, or even investing time in deep friendships, we can create our own families.

The Reel Cinema, The Ridings Shopping Centre

The woman serving us at the cinema wasn’t being purposeful ‘politically correct,’ just genuine because that is how she too views ‘families.’ 

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