So... today's question is: How do you define "immediate family," and who is in your immediate family?
One could define "immediate family" as one or more people who are a person's parents, siblings, spouse or children, whether or not they still live under the same roof. In other words, people any one of whom might be considered "next of kin" under the law.
Thus, a never-married single person who lives alone still has "immediate family" if that person still has one or both parents living, or who has a sister or a brother somewhere.
In its 1978 book Ourselves and Our Children: A Book By and For Parents (sadly, now out of print), the Boston Women's Health Book Collective defines "family" as "at least two generations of adults and children living together." So that could include a stepparent, or grandparents raising their grandchildren.
Another author quoted in Ourselves and Our Children, Mary Howell, says that the "basic defining characteristics of family are joint occupation of a household, with sharing of time and space; an exchange of unpaid services between family members; a commitment to stay together over time; and bonds of ritual, tradition and family history."
Who is my immediate family? Since my parents died, nobody at all. Hence this incredible empty void in my life, and my fascination with the topic of "family."
So, how do you define family?