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Category: Family Capital

The Family You Choose

July 29, 2023

Lead Photo Credit: Tyler Nix via Unsplash

We hear frequently about the idea of the family you choose being superior to the family into which you are born. While we cannot choose the family that we are born into, we can choose how we act and react to our circumstances and work to create loving relationships with those to whom we are related. This is not always easy, and is not always possible, but the efforts are not wasted, even when the struggle does not bear fruit.

I remember when I was a young adult and dating with the intention of getting married that I was often told, “Choose your love, and love your choice.” I knew that there were things I was looking for in my life partner that I absolutely did not want to live without, and there were things I did not want to live with. I also knew that marriage was not going to be all sunshine and roses, that it would require both of us working and forgiving and wanting to stay committed. Promises and potential cannot be fulfilled by just one spouse. Marriage is the most powerful choosing of family there is, and when both spouses are choosing to prioritize their relationship, it can be the most beautiful and enabling bond there is.

As I have been watching my son become a father with the birth of his baby, I am reminded of another dynamic choosing of family. We can all learn from our past, good and bad, and work to improve the future with the next generation. Even if the home you grew up in wasn’t ideal, you can put in the effort to learn and create an environment for your children with love, safety, and encouragement. In the best of situations, there are intergenerational bonds that provide guidance and support. When that isn’t the lived reality, we can look for mentors and community support. When we do not have children of our own, we can watch for opportunities to support and care for children and families in our sphere of influence.

Constant and loyal friends can become like family, and this is generally what is meant when referring to the family we choose. They are an essential part of our lives and help us to learn and grow, exposing us to ideas we may not have encountered on our own, supporting us through hard times, and inspiring us as we strive to improve. True friends want to help us become our best selves, even when that means telling us hard truths. They don’t try to replace family, but want to be part of our family and encourage us to improve those bonds. True friends are a blessing that can enlarge and elevate our lives.

The family you choose is the family you choose to create, choose to forgive, choose to spend time with, choose to stay loyal to, choose to celebrate, choose to respect, choose to work with, choose to create memories with, choose to be responsible for, choose to have compassion for, choose to pray for and with, choose to love.