New Zealand is made up of lots of different sorts of families. Your family might be the family you were born into or the family you have created with your partner.
You might include just your partner, or families one or both of you bring from previous relationships. You might live with people you regard as family even though they are not blood relatives. The possibilities are many.
Families may be based on different kinds of adult relationships but the thing they have in common is that they provide a sense of belonging. They give identity and provide support and security. Your family is made up of the people you care about and the people who care about you.
Maybe you haven't taken the time to work out the various layers of your family and what they mean to you. Yet it can be an important thing to do especially if you can involve your children. Encourage them to talk about the people they understand to be part of their family.
Try it one wet Sunday afternoon. Take a pen and some paper and start by drawing a circle of close family -- maybe the people you live with or the family members you are closest to.
Then draw a bigger circle around it to take in the next group of family -- maybe people you don't see so often but whom you identify with and look to for support. Draw as many circles as you need to take in all the people you can think of.
Then try talking about the relationships you have with those people -- what they mean to you and how things work between you.
You might also want to include any close friends that you have a family-like relationship with, people you can rely on and trust. These relationships might be the people you look to when your extended family live elsewhere or are not available to give you active support.
The family is where children and vulnerable family members should be able to go for safety and support. So it's important to encourage children to think about who is in their family and what family means to them.
Having a concept of your family that goes beyond mum, dad and the kids is also important when adult relationships break up. When parents separate, children often find security in wider and different family connections. Often these take in different generations and wider circles of friends.
When adult relationships break up children go on needing all of their family. They need to be able to look to their wider family relationships for continuity and security. And they need support in adjusting to new definitions of family.