Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Families

I find that I write about family a lot, which is either odd because of, or totally explained because of, my own bizarre family situation. If I am going to self-psychoanalyze, I would have to acknowledge that I think about family and the importance of a familial support structure more than most people do, just because I have always so badly wanted one. Actually, my therapist told me that...I didn't think of it on my own:-P (I am quoting her a lot these days...albeit sometimes indirectly through song lyrics!).

And usually when I write about relatives, it is in kind of a negative light. I barely knew my father, never got along with my mother and have had plenty of other issues with my more extended family. I have been sued by them (well, not really...I was sued by Munchkin's father's family, which I am not technically related to) and have seen them steal a large portion of the money left to a little girl by her dead parents. There are several of them that I refuse to be in the same room as (those would be the thieves) and several that I don't speak with (the suers).

For most of my life, this is how I interacted with and thought of "family". Family were people that you were forced to deal with, but who consistently let you down at every chance they got. And when they couldn't let you down, they did their best to hold you down.

It is a measure of how much that has changed for me in the last few years that the following comments showed up on Monday:

...you have an amazing family!

I think your whole family is awesome, both the "pretend" ones, and the blood ones...

...family - its the one thing we just can't do without! if i had met someone in high school that had to stop by his baby cousins birthday - i would have given it up for sure.

Awesome stuff! It's so great when you can connect with the people you love like that.


The fact is that I view family in an entirely different light now than I ever did as a kid. I have discovered an entire half of my family that is warm, and supportive and loving and all of the things that a family should be. And maybe I have a little more tolerance for the toxic ones, too (1,000 miles of fresh air helps with that.)

I wish I had known my father's family all along, but I am happy to have found them now. And more than that, I am happy that my dear little Tinkerbelle will get to know them for so much longer than I did. Imagine how cool it would be to discover at age 7 that you are not an only child with one cousin, but that you have an older sister and an entire brigade full of older cousins, aunts and uncles that love you, dote on you and show up at your birthday parties:-). She is definitely the baby of the family, and all of our relatives are ecstatic to have her around to spoil!

And that doesn't even get into my pretend family. Turns out, you don't actually have to be related to someone to think of them as a relative, or to love them like one. It would be kinda obvious to note that Munchkin is lucky to have people who treat her like family during some very formative years. What also should be noted is that I am not too old to benefit from the support, advice, love and comfort that comes from having a family. Even a pretend one;-).

So what is my point..."family is good". Not exactly earth shattering. I think my point is that for kids, family is everything. Dysfunctional families harm adults, but their effect on children is much worse. Kids need their family to teach them about trust, love, responsibility and all sorts of other moral lessons they can't learn otherwise. It is very easy to get so busy or self-absorbed that you lose track of the little people in your life that need, or could use, influencing. We would all be better off if we sometimes stop, think about it, and do something to remind kids what families are good for.

There, soapbox speech complete:-)

6 comments:

Lpeg said...

I agree. Family is everything. I have a great family, but it's the pretend ones that I find hard to find... I don't have much luck in lifelong friends. But I guess we all have our great family - whether it is real or pretend - there is always someone there for us when we need them most!

Trish Ryan said...

It's amazing how different things look after some time has gone by...I totally relate...great post!

Ally said...

Sounds like in different ways we've learned some of the lessons. It's awesome how healing new relationships and "families" can be.

KT said...

beautiful post. i can so relate.

AaroN said...

Who needs a theropist if you have a blog? ;)

I'm glad you're getting by and learned to overcome the hardships you faced as a child.

Are You Willing to Change? said...

Family is good, and it's so cool who time makes thoughts and feelings change so drastically and how your perceptions change so much over time.