*This post is in collaboration with Slater Gordon divorce solicitors London but all opinions are my own

What do you picture when you think of the word family? The Simpsons – dysfunctional at the best of times, yet somehow they make it work. Or the Walton’s – a family who led a simple life, yet one that was filled with love and happiness.

To me family symbolises unity, strength, support and unconditional love. I was raised in a happy, loving home by two parents. I have an older sister and a younger brother who I have a close sibling bond with. My dad worked hard to provide for the family whilst my mum stayed at home to care for us. To me, we’re just a regular 2.4 children family. However, a 2.4 child family hasn’t been the ‘norm’ for some years now.

In it’s place is the ‘modern day family’. Grandparents are taking on the role of parenting their grandchildren. Parents are separating and re-marrying, thus creating step-siblings and half-siblings. Every family is unique. Every family has it’s own story and rarely are two families ever the same.

Regular readers of my blog will know the struggle I had to conceive. There was a point during our fertility journey where I had to come to terms with the fact that I might never be able to have my own baby, something that I’d always dreamed of. I couldn’t imagine not growing old with my children and grandchildren around me. And now I have Max my dream has turned into reality. But a family isn’t for everyone and there are currently 7.9 million couples in the UK without children.

In a recent survey of over 2000 people, 27% defined family as ‘whoever you want it to be’. I have friends who I’ve grown up with and whilst we aren’t related, I think of them as sister’s.Β Just because someone isn’t related to you by blood, doesn’t mean that they aren’t there for you, through thick and thin.

I consider myself to be very lucky that I’ve been raised by my biological parents, who after 38 years of marriage are still together. I’m all too aware that not everyone else is as fortunate. A staggering 42% of marriages end in divorce, a statistic which is much higher than I realised. But divorce doesn’t have to signify the end of something. Instead it can mean a fresh start, new beginnings and the chance to find your happy ever after.

Next time you think of the word ‘family’ imagine a close-knit unit of individuals joined together regardless of race, biology, sexual orientation, age or generation who are cemented through one common characteristic; love.