Define Your Family

It seems like a simple question…..who is your family?  However, when it comes time to defining participants for a multi generation family meeting, defining family members may be more complex.

Do you include only your immediate family (husband, wife, children).  If so, does that include all stepchildren, even if not living with you? Do you include extended family?  If so, exactly who should be included?  Is it anyone related to you?  What about the parents of your son’s wife?  Does it include aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents, great uncles and so on?

The answer really depends on what you are trying to accomplish and on your individual family situation.

It is OK to have different definitions for different reasons.  If your goal is to reunite with as many blood relatives on one side of the family as possible, then you will have a wide definition of who is family.  If you are trying to establish household rules for people who live with you, you have a very narrow definition of family.

For purposes of establishing  a multi generation family meeting, it can be beneficial to include all of your immediate family (including all members of your household and any step children no longer in the house); both sets of Grandparents; all your children (no matter what age) along with their spouses and descendants.

If your family legacy and wealth was earned by a prior generation, via business ventures or other means, then your meetings may already be including more than your immediate family and descendants.  For example, if your Mother and Father started a successful business and left it to you and your 4 siblings, all of whom married and had children – your family meetings most likely include all of those people.

Sources include:

The Survival Guide for Business Families by Gerald Le Van copyright 1999 published by Routledge

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