Picture: Jessica van Rensburg, www.foxandthehare.co.za

We can’t choose our family, but we can’t live without them. Here’s why they mean the world to us, writes Marchelle Abrahams.

What does family mean to you? Is it the group of close friends you surround yourself with? The kids that drive you crazy till late at night? Or the one person you equate with pure, unconditional love? 

Real family is a bond that cannot be broken by any means. This is a fitting reflection of what family has come to mean.

So in celebration of wild, crazy families, I asked a few people what family truly means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

“Safety, warmth and craziness”

Terence Mentor, also known as AfroDaddy to his fans, is an avid blogger with his own YouTube channel. He and wife Julie are parents to Eli, 2, and Liam, 4. They adopted Liam in 2014, knowing that adoption was always going to be part of their plan. A popular contributor to websites and blogs, Mentor is an outspoken advocate of dads taking on more parenting duties with his sharp wit and quick humour.

“When I look at my family, I see safety, love, warmth and craziness… but I also see so much potential.

Picture: Jessica van Rensburg, www.foxandthehare.co.za

“One of the benefits of having a family in a non-traditional way is that it forces you out of your comfort zone and helps you to see the bigger issues at play in our world. Armed with that perspective, we can help our children be the people they need to be to make a real change.”

“My boys can talk to me about anything”

Janice Johannes is a single mother with two boys - Lucas, 10, and Sasha, 7. She’s been raising the boys on her own since 2010, while their father resides in Angola.

“My motto is that my boys should be able to talk to me about anything. I am their mom and I will always be there for them. That's what family is supposed to be - a support system for each other.

“Family is important. It is the one thing we have when you strip away all earthly possessions. So when they fight and bicker, I reprimand both of them. I punish both of them because they know by now that they should be friends first - and then brothers."

“God’s word forms part of our daily existence”

Harlem Goodman is dad to a daughter, age 15 and son, 10. He says nothing can replace the feeling he gets when he hears ‘I love you, Dad’. For years he has been raising his children on his own and admits that it has its challenges: “Everyday I begin to realise how the demands placed upon us impact on my time I should spend with my kids.”

But they make do with the time they share together.

“My little family may not be perfect with a few imperfections. But  I'm satisfied when I look around me that we as a family still practice the values of living as the traditional family, although in a diminishing way, in this crazy world.”

“My dogs mean the world to me”

Carmen and Damien Maharaj are the proud parents of pet pooches, Lucy and Axle.

The couple welcomed Axle into their homes and hearts when he was 8 weeks old. The 2-year-old thoroughbred German Shepherd is older brother to Lucy, whom they rehomed when she was just 5 months old.

“Axle and Lucy mean the world to me. Many people have expressed their opinions in terms

of our over-the-top affection and treatment towards them, but we consider them as much a part of our family.

“We are sometimes woken by the loud barking in the middle of the night, but that would be our furry babies on their night shift. And, coming home to them after a tiring day at work lifts our spirits. To see their wagging tails and smooches welcoming Damien and me home is the best part of my day.”

“We always wanted to have a family of our own”

Juanita Willoughby and wife Sonja are mommies to little Quian, 5. The couple were in a relationship for 17 years before tying the knot. They have now been married for 5 years.

“We always wanted to have a family of our own and we then decided to have artificial insemination done. I was the carrier and when our son was born we were over the moon,” says Juanita.

“It is the best feeling coming home listening to his tales of the day and everyday its something new.

“We were asked what will we tell him when he asks ‘where is my dad’.

“The answer is simple - be truthful and your past won’t hurt you. You can’t teach your child to be honest if you’ve been living a lie his whole life.”