It’s embarrassing to admit, since I work in a Center on Children and Families, but I had never really thought about the word “relative” until I read the new Atlantic essay from David Brooks, “The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake.”
In everyday language, relatives are just the people you are related to. But what does that mean? Sometimes, we prefix the term to make it clearer still, referring to blood relatives, as opposed to those, say, to whom we are “related” through marriage. The in-laws are relatives, too.
So the question is: what relationships make a relative?