Family Justice Council – 2021 Bridget Lindley Memorial Lecture: What do we mean by a family?

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I chose this title out of respect for Bridget Lindley, whose work with the Family Rights Group so enriched our idea of what it means to be a family these days. The Office of National Statistics defines a family as a couple, whether of the same or opposite sexes, and with or without children, or a single parent with one or more children.

I understand why they have to do this, but if there is one thing that Bridget and the Family Rights Group have taught us, it is that there is far more to family than that. Families consist of a whole web of relationships going far beyond those of adult partners, parents and children.

They are, of course, infinitely various, some close, some distant, some acknowledged, some unacknowledged, some loved, some unloved. But you can bet your bottom dollar that, for most children, there will be people other than their parents in their family who are important to them and to whom they are just as important, if not more.