What does ‘family’ mean to you?

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I have been working with a family this week around what ‘family’ means to each family member – because it means different things to each of us.

Every family is unique, special & different and every family member perceives their place within the family differently – there’s no one size that fits all & that’s how it should be, because all families should be celebrated regardless of their circumstances.

We all bring our own family experiences into our parenting and there’s nothing wrong with that – but sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back to just notice if that’s working well for everyone in the family.

I call it my ‘Snap Shot Moment’

What kind of family is my family?

Some families are blended, bereaved or divorced, and some children are brought up by foster carers, adopted parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles or by a single parent. Some are same sex families, surrogate families or extended families.

We all crave connection, belonging & significance and children of course are no different to us as adults, but we rarely take the time to ‘Pause to Ponder’ and step back from our busy lives to reflect on what sort of atmosphere and environment we are creating for our children from THEIR perspective.

Here’s a little exercise I do with the parents I coach.

Grab a coffee and a pen and paper to write down your thoughts & just ‘Pause to Ponder’

What does the word ‘family’ mean to you?

Who are the members in your family? Write their names and include yourself.

Complete the following sentences as you reflect and think about members of your family.

My family is …

Males in my family are …

Females in my family are …

In my family I am …

In order to have the kind of family I want to have, I could…

In order to have the kind of family I want to have, I will …

What’s important to the girls in our family?

What’s important to the boys in our family?

What’s important to the women in our family?

What’s important to the men in our family?

 What’s important to the boys & girls in our family?

What’s important to the men and women in our family?

What’s important to everyone in our family?

How do I want my child to describe their childhood in our family to their children?


There are no right or wrong way to answer these questions – they are just there to give you some clarity and insight into perhaps what’s it like to be living in your family and what values are important to different people within your family.

From your personal perceptions use what you have discovered to generate different or new options if you discover something you don’t like.

Perhaps this little exercise could spark some conversations that might lead you into new places of understanding each other and seeing things from the shoes and socks of different family members.


Reference Wes Wingett & Tom Edgar ‘Family Structure’






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