The family we claim, love and sometimes even struggle with a bit helps define who we each are. That's why stories that help people figure out what works and what doesn't are important.

A little girl creeps into her parents' bedroom at night, where she sleeps at the foot of the bed so she'll know if they leave to take her baby brother to the hospital again. She is the sibling of a seriously sick child and sometimes feels left behind and sad. A young man who grew up without a dad boosts his own son high in the air and makes a solemn, silent promise he will do better by this child he loves with all his heart. A woman reaches across a church pew for the hand of her elderly husband. Their journey has been filled with anger and counseling and prayer since she learned he was addicted to pornography, but she is learning to forgive. I've met these people and told their stories this year as I've covered family issues for the Deseret News. Moments stick with me: Seeing faces light up and years fall from the faces of older singers in a choir is also a hedge against loneliness. Or trying not to cry as a dad describes people avoiding his son, who has multiple disabilities. I also appreciated the advice shared by experts and bereaved families about how parents help a child through the loss of a pet they dearly love. At my house, we're still mourning the death of our dog, Cassie. The family we claim, love and sometimes even struggle with helps define who we each are, and that's why stories that help people figure out what works and what doesn't are important. This year, we've highlighted the shifting makeup of the American family, with more babies born to single than married mothers in their 30s and younger. The institution of marriage is being viewed by some as dispensable, and this has real ramifications for children and the future. I love the research, too - actual data that track trends. For example, teens who are hovered over never learn to make decisions. Girls who have a good relationship with their dads are less likely to get pregnant as teens. Depression blurs memory. Yelling may be as harmful as hitting a child. If we're all in this together - and we are - families who share their stories help themselves and others. I'm so grateful to be allowed to hold the pen. In no particular order, here is a list of 2013's most impactful national family stories from the Deseret News: 1. Single for life? The social costs of fewer families 2. Dads are important to a kid's life 3. Study challenges 'hookup culture view of college life 4. Small survivors: Science of fetal pain and abortion law 5. Dating dilemma: How soon is too soon to date? 6. Preserving relationships when your kids or your folks move in 7. Navigating the difficult path of grief 8. The dramatic decline in international adoptions 9. Creating meaningful family moments in a plugged-in world 10. Dads want to have it all, too%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//