Examples of family metaphors include:
- A family is a zoo,
- My mother rules the roost, and
- The black sheep of the family.
There is also, of course, the most well-known one: the family tree!
When writing metaphors about families, think of something that’s like a family in some way. But, when writing the analogy, don’t write is like. Instead, just write is. The creates a metaphor and helps create a vivid and creative image in the mind of your reader.
Family Metaphors (A List)
1. Families are Snowflakes. They’re all Unique!
As a Simile: Families are like snowflakes because every family is unique
Every single snowflake is completely unique. If you put them all under the microscope, you’ll never see two that are exactly the same. They’re like fingerprints.
Families are similar. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are many personalities in each family and each family has its own little inside jokes and sayings.
If you’re using this metaphor, you might want to follow-up with what makes your family unique. For example:
My family is a snowflake
It’s unique in its own ways
No one can make me happier
Especially on bad days
Mom knows how to make me laugh
And I love the way Dad plays
2. My Family is a Zoo
As a Simile: My Family is like a Zoo
A zoo is a place that’s full of different animals. Some are calm and sleepy like a Koala while others are crazy and angry like a crocodile.
Our families are often full of wildly different personalities as well. Your little brother might be a bull who runs around the house causing a mess. Your sister might be a cat always avoiding everyone. Your Dad might be a lion with a big beard. And so on.
If you’ve got a family full of a mix of different characters, maybe you can call them a zoo!
3. My Family is my Rock
As a Simile: My Family is like a Rock
We often use rocks in metaphors to show that something is strong and steady.
For many of us, a family is the thing that is strong and steady for us. Our mom and dad look after us and come to our aid when we are sick or in some trouble.
If there is one person in your family who is a strong person who you can rely on, you can also use this metaphor to speak specifically about them. For example, you can say “my father is my rock” or “my mother is my rock”.
Related: Rock Metaphors
4. Family Time is the Best Therapy
As a Simile: Family time is like therapy
When we think of literal therapy, we think of someone lying on a couch talking to a psychiatrist! The job of therapy is to help people to achieve emotional and psychological happiness.
When we talk about family time being therapy, we’re using metaphor to express the fact that spending time with family is something that gives up happiness.
Sometimes you might be stressed out or feeling sad. But if you spend an afternoon playing games with your sister or going to the movies with your mother, you might end up feeling a lot better by the end.
5. The Family Tree!
As a Simile: My family history graph is like a tree
The ‘family tree’ is a metaphor to explain our family’s ancestry.
If we were to draw a graph of our family, it would look a bit like a ‘tree’. The grandparents would be the tree trunk. The aunts and uncles would be the branches. And the children and cousins would be the leaves and sticks:
This metaphor is so common these days that it feels very natural to say. It is a part of our general day to day English language.
But you can still use this metaphor in a story or poem, emphasizing elements like the ‘trunk’ (grandparents), ‘branches’ (parents), and ‘leaves’ (children).
Related: Tree Metaphors
6. My Family is a Garden
As a Simile: Being a parent is like being a gardener
The gardening metaphor refers to the fact you need to ‘tend to’ something in order for it to thrive.
If you don’t look after a garden, it ends up with weeds and wilting flowers.
But if you do look after the garden by providing fertilizer, sunshine, water, and by tearing up weeds, the garden will be nice and healthy.
You might use this metaphor when you are the parent, or the ‘gardener’. Your job is to tend to your children and make sure they’re happy and healthy so they grow up well. Without looking after them, they might end up like an overgrown garden!
Related: Growth Metaphors
7. My Family is a Well-Oiled Machine
As a Simile: My family operates like a well-oiled machine
When we call something a well-oiled machine, we don’t mean that they’re literally a machine. Really, we mean that they are like a machine that is well-oiled.
This would mean that the family works well together and doesn’t tend to have any issues like big arguments. Similarly, a well-oiled machine never breaks or stops working!
You can imagine a family that’s a well-oiled machine might have its morning routine running perfectly. Dad gets up and makes the lunches. Mom makes sure everyone’s dressed. The kids make sure the beds are made. And everyone gets to school and work on time every day.
8. My Sister is a Cheeky Monkey
As a Simile: My sister is acting like a cheeky monkey
If you call your sister a cheeky monkey, you’re not actually saying that she’s an animal. What you’re saying is that she acts silly like a monkey!
Cheeky monkeys in places like Thailand will often do naughty things that would get a human child into trouble. They might steal someone’s hat or pick their pockets. They might try to pull down a skirt or chase you down the street.
So when we call someone a cheeky monkey, we mean that they do things that are a little naughty.
Here is some footage of a few literal cheeky monkeys. Do you have a sister or brother who is like this:
9. My Brother is a Monster
As a Simile: My brother is acting like a monster
Another metaphorical way to describe a sibling is to call them a monster! Of course, they’re not a monster. But they may have some of the same characteristics as a monster.
You might have had an argument with your brother and are really angry at them. Or, you might get annoyed that their music is too loud or they want to watch an annoying television show.
At any of these times, you might use a metaphor in exasperation: “you little monster!”
10. My Mother is an Angel
As a Simile: My mother is like a guardian angel
Mothers take such good care of us, we might call them angels.
Angels are caring creatures who look over us when we’re in need. Many people believe they have a guardian angel who is specifically assigned to take care of us in times of need.
These angels sound a lot like our mothers! Mothers will swoop in like an angel when we’re injured to nurse us back to health. They’re always there to look after us.
11. My Daughter is my Happiness
As a Simile: My daughter is like a ball of happiness
A parent might call someone “my happiness”. This is metaphorical. If you were to be literal, you would say “my daughter makes me happy”.
When we call someone “my happiness”, what we’re actually saying is that this person is the central person in your life that brings you joy. Commonly, parents will say that having children was the best decision in their life. They love their children so much that seeing their children happy and children make them happy.
Related: Happiness Metaphors
12. My Family is my Roots
Returning to the metaphor of your family as a ‘tree’, you can talk about your family members as your ‘roots’.
When we say something is our roots (such as: “I’m going back to my roots”), we are speaking metaphorically. A tree’s roots are the basis of the tree that holds it together. They’re the first things that grow. They ensure the tree grows tall and strong.
So, when you say your family is your roots, you’re saying that your family is the place that makes you strong. They provided you with your values, history, and culture.
13. The Apple Fell Far from the Tree
This metaphor is difficult. What it means is that the child is very different to the parent.
For this metaphor, the tree is the family or parents and the apple is the child. Usually, an apple will fall under the tree. It will stay close.
But if an apple falls far from the tree, it might roll away and be very distant from the tree.
Metaphorically, what we’re saying is that the child is nothing like the parent. The parent might be a businessman and the child is a free spirit hippie, for example!
You can also say the metaphor slightly differently: “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. This would mean that the parent and child are very similar people.
This is a type of metaphor called a ‘complex metaphor’. We call it this because it’s really two metaphors: the tree is the metaphor for a family and the apple is the metaphor for a person.
14. My Father is a Work Horse
As a Simile: My father is like a work horse
When we call someone a work horse, we are implying that they are a very hard-working person.
Many of us grow up with a mother or father who work really hard all the time can relate to this. Maybe your father works on weekends. Or, maybe your mother is running her own business and is always busy on that.
Often, our parents work really hard to make sure we get food on our plate and a roof over our heads. This metaphor shows appreciation for all the hard work they do for us.
15. My Mother is a Firefighter
As a Simile: My mother is like a firefighter
When we say someone is “fighting fires” or even “putting out spot fires”, we don’t always mean they’re literally firefighting!
Sometimes, this is a metaphor for a person who is always solving problems. One problem after another might appear in your family that needs to be fixed in quick succession:
- Your little sister breaks a bowl and your mother or father has to run across and clean the mess.
- Your big brother needs a permission note signed for school.
- There’s a phone call from the bank that needs to be answered
- Etc. Etc.
If this is happening all day, your mother or father might say at the end of the day: “all I did today was put out fires!” In other words, they spent all day solving problems that occurred as the day went on.
16. My Grandfather is a Time Machine
As a Simile: My grandfather is like a time machine. He takes me back to the past.
When we talk to our grandparents, sometimes we can learn all about what life was like 50 or 60 years ago.
Of course, they’re not really a time machine. They can just tell really good stories that might make us feel like we have gone back in time. But to phrase it as a metaphor and not a simile, we will say that they are the time machine.
17. My Brother is a Clown
As a Simile: my brother acts like a clown
Some people may have a brother or sister who plays around and jokes all the time.
Maybe they play with their food instead of eating it or area always finding things funny. Maybe they just make you laugh all the time!
Someone who is always joking around can be called a clown. This doesn’t mean they’re literally a clown, but they’re like a clown because they are always making people laugh. Don’t use like, though, because that’s a simile. Instead just say they “are” a clown.
18. My Family is a Kingdom
As a Simile: My family is like a kingdom where mom and dad are king and queen.
We can think of our families as little kingdoms and your house is the castle. Your mom and dad are the queen and king. The kids are the princes and princesses.
There are many directions we can go with this metaphor. For example, mom and dad make the decisions because they are the king and queen.
Similarly, your father might call you their “little prince” or “little princess” because you’re so special to them and your little family kingdom.
19. Family Time is a Big Hug
As a Simile: My family is like a big hug
Sometimes family can make us feel so much better. It’s as good as a big hug!
A hug can make us feel good. They’re warm and comforting. You don’t need a hug to get that feeling, though. Sometimes just having a hot chocolate with your mom while watching TV is enough to make you feel a whole lot better.
So, you can say your family is a big hug to creatively explain how your family makes you feel.
20. I’m the Black Sheep of the Family
As a Simile: I’m like a black sheep. I stick out from the rest of the family.
When we call someone a black sheep, we mean that they stand out a someone in the family who is a bit different.
This gives us a picture in our mind of a field of white sheep, but also one black sheep right in the middle. You’re going to see that black sheep and notice that it stands-out because it’s so different!
Someone who seems really different to all the siblings might be called the black sheep. Maybe it’s because you’re artistic while the other family members are mathematical. Or, maybe you love to read while the rest of the family loves sports.
21. My Mother Rules the Roost
As a Simile: My Mother is like a mother hen who rules the roost.
This metaphor makes an analogy between a house and a chicken coop.
The mother is the hen who is in charge. She clucks around and makes sure everyone is well-behaved. She’s the boss of the chicken coop!
She takes care of the nest.
Your father might be the one that rules the roost, too. So this metaphor depends on who is the person who is in charge in the house (or are both the parents in charge?)
22. My Son is a Chip off the Old Block
As a Simile: My son is like a chip off the old block
“Chip off the old block” is also an idiom because it’s a saying that is so common in our language. It means that a child is a lot like the parent.
You can think of an old block of wood and then you get an axe and cut a smaller piece off it. If you looked at the two, you would be able to tell they are similar. They would be the same color and have the same sort of patterns on them. They would also be the same type of wood (oak or willow or spruce?)
Similarly, a child comes from their parent and has many similar traits. They might have the same mannerisms or values.
Supposedly, this saying dates all the way back to 270BC.
While it’s an idiom, it’s also a metaphor because we’re saying the father (or mother) is a block when in reality they are like a block.
Related Article: What is the Origin of the saying “Blood is Thicker than Water?”
23. My Family is my Heart and Soul
As a Simile: My family is like my heart and soul
Of course, your family isn’t a heart. They might be metaphorically “in your heart”, meaning that you love them.
But whenever we use the term ‘heart’ to refer to the fact we love someone, we’re using a figure of speech. For example, “he’s in my heart” literally means “I love him”.
Nearly everyone loves their family. Our family are the first and most important emotional connections we make in our lives. So, this family metaphor is relevant to most of us!
I’m sure there are countless possible family metaphors that you could come up with. In fact, the above are just the tip of the iceberg! Anyone can come up with their own unique metaphor by thinking about what a family is similar to.
You can create an analogy between families and anything that families are like. You can turn it into a metaphor by writing is or a simile by writing is like. So, if you don’t like any of the above ones yourself, have a go at coming up with your own metaphor.The only limit is your creativity!
I’m Chris and I run this website – a resource about symbolism, metaphors, idioms, and a whole lot more! Thanks for dropping by.