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Family: It's More Than Blood. Featuring Abigail Duzan

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

"It didn’t matter how big our house was; it mattered that there was love in it.”

Peter Buffett


What makes a family, family?

As of 2021, there are an estimated 132 million households in the United States. There is no possible accurate statistic for how many of these homes are broken. My guess? A lot. Millions. The textbook definition of a broken home is to be from a home where parents are divorced or separated. However to me, a broken home is an un-functional home where the tension surpasses the love. Today I am interviewing a friend of mine who has learned how to set boundaries while living in a home like this and has taught me to understand that family is more than blood.


Abby Duzan has grown up as a child of 8 where she is the oldest daughter. Being in a family this large, dysfunction is a common behavior known to her influenced by her upbringing.

Sibling relationships:

As a young girl, Abby noticed a matriarchal role forced upon her. "Being the oldest girl, it was an expectation I was the one watching my younger siblings even if I had a prior commitment and my older brothers were free. 'You're better with them' My parents would say"..."I cooked, I cleaned, I bathed them. I took upon a motherly role and it was not something I asked for". Abby never received the chance to be a child similar as many older kids in large families or families with absent parents feel. "My older brothers and I have a strained relationship. I don't talk to two of my older brothers however my oldest has experienced partentification worse than I. He has helped shape me into the woman I am today".

"I find myself struck with guilt when thinking about kids. Why don't I want kids? Is it because I practically raised my siblings? Do I want to go through that again? What if MY kids lack a relationship with me as I did with my parents?"Abby says that as she has grown, learned, and adapted to her circumstances she has realizes it is not necessary to push herself to be in toxic familiar relationships.

Parental Relationship:

Abby's family was raised in the church. In the church she grew up in, she was taught that a dysfunctional family is not common and any issues in the family should be swept under the rug. Last summer, Abby and her family experienced an extremely traumatic experience. It became a goal to heal her family through suggesting therapy. Shortly she learned you can not help someone who do not want to be helped. "It's scary. It's scary when you have a mom and dad who do not want to heal. How can they be parents to me when I'm growing through a traumatic event yet they are not?" Every day, Abby works on her relationship with her parents however she incorporates boundaries. Finding and creating boundaries that work for you and honor your power are incredibly important. It can look like needing to remove certain topics in your typical conversations or even drawing a line with how they talk to you.

"There are certain topics we don't talk about. There are also times I have had to avoid communication with them. I am learning. I am growing. But most importantly, I am doing what I can to keep my mental health in the best place it can be. If you're currently in a place as I am with my parents or even worse, I hope you find peace in the idea that it's okay to set boundaries."

More than Blood:

"We look for features in family we are missing in blood". When asking Abby what she has looked for and leaned upon in her non-blood "familiar" relationships she described the attributes she lacked growing up are what she finds in her non-blood family. "My friends have taken me in and loved me as a sister to them. I no-longer find myself needing to feel satisfied by my blood family and pleasing those who do not put effort into making me feel whole. I love my blood family and I always will but with putting up boundaries, healing myself through therapy, and finding friends that make me feel loved, I have learned how to have a healthy relationship with my family that services who I AM and is healthier for everyone involved."

R E F L E C T I O N -

Q1: Would you say you come from a broken family?

Q2: What boundaries have you had to set in your family?

Q3: What makes someone not blood relation to you, family?

Q4: Does your family bring you peace or disrupt your peace?

Q5: What is one small way this week you can set a boundary in your family?

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