So, What Does Family Mean To You?
Is Family your blood ties; those with whom you share your genes? Or is it something else?
Is it the people you share commonalities with and lifelong connections, trust and commitment?
For many it is simply Father, Mother, children. But, for a lot of us family is something entirely different.
For some, it is the collective group of people we hold most dear.
It’s the friends we surround ourselves with everyday.
They are the people we feel safe with and with whom we share our greatest achievements and deepest despairs.
And in many cases this collection of people are more of a kin to us in our hearts than the relatives we share a bloodline with.
These days it is more and more common for children to be raised by grandparents, or other extended family members, with their actual parents behaving more like children than responsible roll models.
And it is inevitable that some of these children seek solace and stability outside of their family home.
The blood relatives become less like family and more like wardens, and friendships born from peer groups become the so called ‘family’ they trust and rely on.
I am not unfamiliar with this sentiment. I have friendships that feel more like the family I crave than the family I have.
But why? Why do we so often find the nurturing we seek outside of our biological family?
On the outside a family can seem to be ‘perfect’, ticking all the boxes and demonstrating all the behaviours we have come to know as correct and ‘right’ family dynamics.
The truth is, what we see only scratches the surface of who a family really is.
All too often what lays beneath the calm exterior, is a tumultuous existence that is far removed from our Utopian stereotypes.
And we wear it proudly, feigning the perfect family unit. Actors in a screen play perpetuating the illusion of our stereotypes.
So, we seek what we need wherever we can find it.
Life is not simple, and the family unit is no exception.
It can be forged by generational blood ties, step families put together like a jigsaw, or from situational dependency.
It’s about the bonds
The bond formed from shared experiences, shared lifestyles or shared culture can be profound.
Having relationships with people who have an intimate understanding of our personal position, experience or needs can be life changing.
Lives can be enhanced or destroyed as a result of our family relationships. Some relationships can be toxic, whether biological or adopted family.
While other relationships can save our lives. And it is hard to know where those catalytic relationships will come from.
So the social norms we have come to know as family are no more than a stereo-type we cling to, as a child clings to the pant leg of her father.
Images from a time long lost when ‘first came love, then came marriage, then a baby in the carriage’.
leaving an indelibly etched illusion to which we still aspire.
When the shit hits the fan
The thing defining who our family is, becomes crystal clear when disaster strikes.
When things are at their worst, it is our true family we find by our side.
And sometimes it wont be who we expect.
All we can do is hope that the people we have vested our faith and emotional well-being in, will rise to the challenge of supporting us when we need it most.
Whether they are our biological or social family will matter not.
It is knowing we have a shoulder to cry on, and an arm to lean on that will make the difference, and define family from friends.
I look at it this way; My husband is my best friend and the corner stone to my family unit of Husband/Wife & Children.
But he is not my blood. He is the family that I sought out.
My children are my blood and I would die for them. But who wouldn’t, right? 🙂
My sister in law is not my blood but she is the closest thing I have to a sister…my blood sisters are too old to have that connection. And I have a better relationship with my mother-in-law than I did with my mother.
So in my life, apart from my children, my close family unit comes from outside sources not blood lines.
I have no doubt that if I were in real trouble my blood family would support me. I love them, they are great. But I just don’t have that deep family connection I am searching for.
That comes from those I chose.
So, is blood thicker than water? I am not sure. I think it can be. But it’s not the only place to find family.
Until next time,
Stay safe. live your best life. And say I love you to the people that matter.