What It's Like Growing Up In A Close-Knit Family

What It's Like Growing Up In A Close-Knit Family

“DNA doesn’t make a family, love does.”
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Many times, you hear teenagers say how much they do not like to hang out with their families, and how they would much rather be with their friends. As much as I like to hang out with my friends, anyone who knows me knows for a fact that this is a statement they would never hear me say. I am lucky enough to have grown up in an incredibly close knit family, and, my entire life, it has been one of the things that I have always been most thankful for.

From when I was very young, more than just my immediate family has lived with me. I grew up with my grandparents living with my mom, dad, sister, and I, which they did until they passed away. Those years that I was able to see them every morning and spend time with them every night are ones that I am grateful for every single day. In addition to this, my aunt would, and still does, come over every single weekend, and, no matter what we do, it is always memorable.

Not to mention that whenever we go on vacation, or have any type of celebration, it is a full family affair, filled with unforgettably good times. Whether it is a cruise, trip to Disney World, or spontaneous weekend trip to the beach, there is never a dull moment, and I can honestly say that there is no one that I would rather share these memories with. There is nothing better than being able to say that whenever my family is together, it is a time filled with love, laughter, and special moments that we will talk about forever.

On top of this, one of the best things about having a close-knit family is that I am constantly surrounded by unwavering love and support. I know for a fact that no matter what happens or what decisions I make, I will have my family behind me, cheering me on one-hundred percent. There is no group of people in this world that I can trust more, or that gives me better advice, even when it might not be the advice that I necessarily want to hear. Their honest opinions mean everything to me, because I know that in the end, they want nothing more than what is best for me and for me to be happy.

What I have learned more than anything else from being in a close-knit family is that family is most definitely not defined by blood. Most of the people in my family are not blood-related to me, but are friends who have become my family, and it does not change how much I love them and how close we all are. After all, “DNA doesn’t make a family, love does.” I realize how lucky I am everyday to know that my truly one-of-a-kind family will always remain close-knit, and I would not give up the relationship we have for anything in the world.

Cover Image Credit: Gianna Pisano

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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My Boyfriend's Family Helped Me Find My Home Away From Home

Taking "home is where the heart is" to a new level.

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I have always heard that one day I will find a place that will feel like my home away from home, specifically with my significant other. Honestly, I couldn't envision loving a place like the way I do my hometown, let alone love it even more. Nonetheless, here I am, sitting in the Little Rock, Arkansas airport tearing up as I say goodbye to my home away from home.

Let me tell you about my hometown. I live in a relatively small town in Wyoming and it has always been my home. My family, friends and work are here in Wyoming. But, there happens to be this man who has my whole entire heart. His hometown is a little town in Arkansas, that also happens to be 17 hours away from me. I came to visit him in his hometown for the first time ever. Not only to see Arkansas for the first time but to see him for the first time in a month and to have the opportunity to meet his family.

I won't lie, meeting parents for the first time is definitely nerve-wracking. It's not that I am hard to get along with, it's the fact that I want them to love me because I love their son and I couldn't conceptualize that ever changing. From the moment I stepped into their home, I was welcomed with big arms and beautiful smiles. His family welcomed me, a complete stranger, into their home with no questions asked. Right away I knew I felt like I was home.

Finding your home away from home is easy to recognize. Home is a place full of love and laughter and that is what I found in Arkansas. It was a second home that I felt comfortable in. Feeling comfortable somewhere is not always the easiest feeling to grasp. For me, I feel the need to be in a comfortable place to be myself and call it "home."

I believe that it is essential for everyone to have a "second home" or a "home away from home." Having a second family can and does provide so much more love in my life I never knew I needed. I of course do and always will love and adore my family with my whole heart and soul but having these other people in my life gives me so much assurance that I'll always be surrounded with love and happiness. You can never have too many friends, too much family and certainly never too much love. So thank you. Thank you for welcoming me, loving me as your own, and showing me that having a home away from home is such a positive part of my life.

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