What it is…
Family can mean different things to different people. Most people think of family as biologically related. There are other types though. There are those that are family that have been adopted. This is still family. Others may have been born due to extenuating circumstances. Maybe a rape or possibly cheating where the biological parent (usually a father) is not the one that raises the child. Accepted by that parent that child becomes family to him. Already ½ family to siblings (if any) and fully related to the mother (in the example I am giving). If the child never knew about what had transpired, that child would never have any doubts that they were a full family member. In my case, I’d say they are a full family member. Still other cases abound where a ½ related child is considered a family member.
Others can become family as well. Let’s face it. The wife of the husband (or vice versa) is not blood related. Cousins are related through blood yet not the immediate family relation.
There are family members that we claim and those we don’t or wish we didn’t have to. Others that are as much family as if they were a father or mother, sister or brother just because of a great relationship over the years.
For the most part, we do no have the ability to choose just who our natural (genetic) family members are.
As you can see, family can be different for each and there is no such thing as a “normal” family. All eclectic. All have their problems. All go through tough times. Some stay together. Others do not.
What its not…
While the word “Family” in fact does have more than one meaning, it has become clearer to me lately that blood indeed does run thinker than water though not always. It also has substantially more to do with culture as well as with gender. Culturally the family unit can have great significance. It also can be quite opposite of that. I’ve also noted that the females have a much stronger tie via blood than do males. This is more from an acceptance standpoint than anything else. Haven’t you ever noticed that the mothers of those sick maniac killers will always come out and say something like “he’s/she’s always been such a nice boy/girl” or “the person you are describing is not my son/daughter” in those interviews. You can always find a mother to take sides with her child over any and all obstacles. They normally will believe that their child doesn’t do those things or isn’t that way. “He/she could never do that!” But that is what “family” is. Not what it isn’t.
What it isn’t is… it is NOT who your bloodline is when you’ve never had contact with or that person left you so long ago that you don’t even know the person. A father or mother that leaves his/her child(ren) before they are born or even shortly after may have a blood tie, but they could very hardly be called family. That brother or sister that leaves, rejects their family ties, and never looks back, should not be considered family (just my opinion). I guess what I’m saying here is that in my opinion, blood does NOT make the person a family member.
Why do we need it…
I’ve begun to ponder this even more as of late. Events in my life have twisted and torn till the anguish of this has begun to reveal itself in ways I never thought possible.
I come from a strong family background. One where I had a father and mother. My parents were married nearly 60 years. Unheard of in this day and age. Always there. Always (or most always) loving, caring, concerned, giving, and mostly available. I was fortunate. I know. I’ve met enough people since my young adult years to find that this is not so common as one would think. Some have lost a parent along the way to some fatality whether accidental or as a result of service to mankind (military or fire or police, etc..). The gaping hole this leaves in family is never fully mended. I say never because even in the best of circumstances, there is a scar on the family. One that can never be erased.
Do we need a family? The answer is yes. Do we need the one we have? Maybe not. Can that change? Yes.
How? How can you say that (you say)? The male of me says that it is possible. Why? Because I’ve seen it happen. It is in the works even as this is being written somewhere. People choose for themselves who their family is. They choose daily who they allow in and who they keep away. Emotionally, physically, in all aspects of life. In fact, it winds up that we have a number of families. Not just the one(s) we live with.
There is the “work” family, the “Church” family (if you are so inclined), maybe a tennis family, swim, boat, bike, poker, bar, dance, etc… and the list goes on. Others become family members to you based on your relationship to them. It is in your hands.
I find that, the more you are in touch with them…. the more they are family.
Ignore them and you will find your “family” will become quite small. Maybe none existent.
Some people, with no blood line around, have multitudes at their bedside and grave at the end of it all. Others, with hundreds of blood line “relatives” have no-one show up. It is not your blood that will make you a member of a family. It is your participation in relationships that will reap the greatest reward of family.
Note: Participation does not mean how much you can give them monetarily. That too is a waste. It is and are the gifts of the heart, ones that have no material value but speak to the soul of the person, that make you family to someone else.