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blythe_ann
01-29-2015, 01:06 PM
A few have commented that the forums haven't been terribly active and since I have a few things on my mind lately, I thought I'd open it up to conversation. Maybe you guys can solve all my problems while getting the forum more active!

I just wondered what people think about the importance of family. It seems that everywhere you turn, holidays, greeting cards, commercials, "sage advice", dictates that family is the most important thing. Family is everything. Family is forever. Blood is thick.

On the other end of things, however, we all know that realistically, holidays spent with extended family can be stressful, some of our deepest wounds were cut by our blood relatives and sometimes, distance, differences and lack of dedication cause family ties and relationships to be strained or non-existent.

So what is your definition of family? What do you think?

My answer below.

blythe_ann
01-29-2015, 01:29 PM
So my answer might not come as a surprise since we are working on becoming adoptive parents. But I believe, stronger every day, that family is who you make it.

Some of my opinion comes from how I was brought up. My parents are essential to my life and can never be replaced, but because of distances, I rarely saw other family except on holidays. I was an only child (basically, my half-siblings were adults when I came around). So, I never developed deep relationships with them. Had I, perhaps I would feel differently. But as it is, my brother, who is 20 years older than I am and was long gone before I was born, and I haven't spoken for 6 years-- not because of ill will, but because he is a 48 year old man I've never known who just happens to be related to me.
Perhaps if my experiences had been different, I would feel differently as well. The negatives of my past are almost all from family. I'm long since over some of these, but examples include my grandmother who "forgot" me on Christmas every year but got every other grandchild gifts, family members giving their advice or getting to involved in my life though they knew very little about me, and most recently, my sister-in-law always driving me crazy (ha!).

On the other hand, my boss and his wife have bent over backwards to help us with our adoption and when we were trying to conceive, were our biggest prayer warriors (still are). My best friend has been nothing but supportive of me since we met and we build each other up with every conversation. And, as an interesting side note, ALL of the donations given towards our adoption specifically, and ALL of the notes of encouragement, calls, and people telling us they are praying for us, have been from non-family members.

So to me, family is who you make it, not who has your blood in their veins. When our child comes home to us someday, They will have Grandma and Grandpa my parents, and they will also have my boss and his wife as grandparent figures. There will be a few "aunts and uncles" in town that aren't at all related, but who love this kid so much.

And at holidays, while we will still visit blood family often enough, we might just make the trip to visit our friends who love us instead, or have them here. Because they are just as much family if not more so.

People I love and who love me are my family. People who believe in our Lord Jesus are family.

snooch
01-29-2015, 02:13 PM
I have much the same views as you, Blythe. I did not come from a good family. There was abuse and neglect, constant fighting and no real bonds. I couldn't escape from them fast enough.

The family I married into, who are not my blood, have been more family to me than my blood family ever was. I have good friends who consider us family, and vice versa.

At the same time, though, I do still feel drawn to blood family. I haven't severed ties with my remaining family -- on the contrary, I continue to try to improve relationships and maintain contact. My cousins, who I barely knew when I was growing up, are also bonds I try to improve and maintain from a distance through social media. I'm very comfortable living thousands of miles away from all of them - for my own sanity and because I don't feel completely "safe" emotionally/mentally when I'm with them for too long - but I still want to see things improve.

So I guess I'm of two minds about it. They are all family that I value in one way or another, and all family that I want to be connected to despite our history. But the family that I choose to devote the majority of my time, energy, and effort on is the family of my choosing, my husband's family and the close friends who are more family to me than my kin have ever been.

purple
01-29-2015, 03:02 PM
I feel the same, family is about much more than blood!

There are people who I am related to and there are people who care about me.

Family to me is about people who have a real interest in you... I would consider some people here my family, then there are people who I share a blood line with who I do not consider family (like my aunt)

Short and to the point :)

blythe_ann
01-29-2015, 03:47 PM
I like short and to the point, I wish I was better at that :).
Snooch, I get where you are coming from, too. There is something to be said about blood ties. I have a feeling that as an adoptive mother I will have to come to terms with this when my child desires to reach out to his or her blood relatives. And my family wasn't bad... just distant.

purple
01-29-2015, 05:50 PM
😀 I can ramble at the moment, but on all these pills I'm not sure I'll make too much sense 😀

There will come a point Blythe when your child will probably want to know where they came from biologically.
Probably how you handle them knowing they are adopted might have a bearing on that... If they grow up knowing, or if you decide to tell them at a specific age...

But I know a number of people who have been adopted or fostered and as far as they are concerned the woman who brought them up is their 'mum', the woman who gave birth to them is their 'mother' if that makes sense...
It's about who cares for you...
I had 2 grandmothers, but 1 gran... The other was my dads, mum... She did what she needed to do, but had she had a choice she would have had nothing to do with us. She even said 'what do they need me for? They have their other gran' and she only came to see me after I was born because she was going to hospital to see someone else at the time!

I'm not surprised these things are going through your mind at the moment, but I have no doubt you ate going to be an amazing mum, and the little boy or girl you adopt will be your son or daughter and there will true love between you!

That's what it's about! Who you love and who loves you back!

mum2only1
01-29-2015, 08:24 PM
Right now I don't feel close to anyone in my family. I used to think blood family was the most important thing, but I believe my mother held all of that together. When she died my idea of family being the most important died with her. I've tried and tried to be close to my brothers, but I just can't do it anymore.
My older brother never speaks to me. Never tries. Never calls or emails. Never asks how I am. Even when I saw him in the summer he never asked how I am, never asked my husband how he is. Didn't interact with my son at all. I've come to the conclusion that this is just who he is. It's disturbing, but I can't do anything about it. It's all about his kids and my sister n law's family.
My younger brother is the same. He suffers from either BPD or he's Bipolar. Not sure which, but I can't stand to be around him. His girlfriend was so great before we actually met, but I found her to be strange and now she barely speaks to me. She worked most of the time while we were there and thinks I didn't want to do anything with her. Truth is I didn't want to do anything with my brother because he is just weird and treats me bad....but it's always turned around to be my fault.
My mom's family are a bunch of hillbillies in the South and I have nothing in common with them. My dad's family don't care about me. They never ask how I am. They just aren't people I want to know anymore. The only reason I cared about family was because of my mother. She was the glue that held it all together. Can't do it anymore. I'm the only one holding relationships together.
As for the friends back home. There are really only 3 that care about me. So...they are the only ones that I will be seeing if I ever go back. That is a big "IF I EVER GO BACK"
I plan to never see my brothers again. What is the point. I told my younger brother's girlfriend this and she thinks I'm wrong and won't speak to me now. Who cares.
I have my husband, my son, my father n law, my sister n law, her son, possibly J long term, my doggie, my birdie. I have what I need here. I don't have anything at home anymore, except money in a bank account.
The rest I would rather live without. I'm tired of feeling deflated and disappointed when I am around my family and those so called friends of mine.
Time to move on. I'm tired of getting hurt.

Virginia
01-30-2015, 12:26 AM
Right now I don't feel close to anyone in my family. I used to think blood family was the most important thing, but I believe my mother held all of that together. When she died my idea of family being the most important died with her. I've tried and tried to be close to my brothers, but I just can't do it anymore.
My older brother never speaks to me. Never tries. Never calls or emails. Never asks how I am. Even when I saw him in the summer he never asked how I am, never asked my husband how he is. Didn't interact with my son at all. I've come to the conclusion that this is just who he is. It's disturbing, but I can't do anything about it. It's all about his kids and my sister n law's family.
My younger brother is the same. He suffers from either BPD or he's Bipolar. Not sure which, but I can't stand to be around him. His girlfriend was so great before we actually met, but I found her to be strange and now she barely speaks to me. She worked most of the time while we were there and thinks I didn't want to do anything with her. Truth is I didn't want to do anything with my brother because he is just weird and treats me bad....but it's always turned around to be my fault.
My mom's family are a bunch of hillbillies in the South and I have nothing in common with them. My dad's family don't care about me. They never ask how I am. They just aren't people I want to know anymore. The only reason I cared about family was because of my mother. She was the glue that held it all together. Can't do it anymore. I'm the only one holding relationships together.
As for the friends back home. There are really only 3 that care about me. So...they are the only ones that I will be seeing if I ever go back. That is a big "IF I EVER GO BACK"
I plan to never see my brothers again. What is the point. I told my younger brother's girlfriend this and she thinks I'm wrong and won't speak to me now. Who cares.
I have my husband, my son, my father n law, my sister n law, her son, possibly J long term, my doggie, my birdie. I have what I need here. I don't have anything at home anymore, except money in a bank account.
The rest I would rather live without. I'm tired of feeling deflated and disappointed when I am around my family and those so called friends of mine.
Time to move on. I'm tired of getting hurt.

:( :hug: I'm so sorry; your family situation sounds tough.

I tend to think of "family" very literally. It was weird to me when my sisters-in-law (neither of whom have a sister, unlike myself) started calling me their "sister." I actually don't think of them as my sisters because I already have one AND because, as an English major, I'm kind of "technical" about words (saying exactly what I mean). However, I do think of them as family :)

Not sure if that was helpful at all, but it's all I have right now ;)

purple
01-30-2015, 03:02 AM
The rest I would rather live without. I'm tired of feeling deflated and disappointed when I am around my family and those so called friends of mine.
Time to move on. I'm tired of getting hurt.

Sometimes cutting ties can be the best thing to do!

Love and focus on what you have rather that what could be...

purple
01-30-2015, 03:05 AM
I tend to think of "family" very literally. It was weird to me when my sisters-in-law (neither of whom have a sister, unlike myself) started calling me their "sister." I actually don't think of them as my sisters because I already have one AND because, as an English major, I'm kind of "technical" about words (saying exactly what I mean). However, I do think of them as family :)

I call my SIL's SIL... I love them as family, but they are not my sisters... If there was a closer bond I might, but there isn't!

blythe_ann
01-30-2015, 09:38 AM
Virginia, I could see that...if I had a sister I'm sure that would be a special bond that a sister-in-law just wouldn't have. However, as a sister-in-law without a sister (okay, so I have a half sister that I barely know), I will admit that it makes me sad that I'm not "one of the sisters" in my in-law family.
Of course, this is coming from a situation where both of my sister-in-laws had their sister and OTHER sister-in-law in the wedding party, but I have been deemed the photographer both times. I try to tell myself it's because I have the nice camera and think I'm talented and not because I'm the odd man out, but I know it's because the bond they have. The two sisters have the actual sister bond and the other was my older sister-in-laws best friend for many years before she joined the family, so she was as good as a sister in most cases. I popped in later in life and just didn't fit in.

mum, I can so relate to your comment about "I have my husband, a few close others, the pets...". That is how I feel a majority of the time. I don't need my extended family to make my life whole. I would love for them to be a part of it, but I would rather surround myself with people who are positive and who care about me and who I care about as well, than try to force relationships with people who don't like me.

Which is why I will photography the upcoming sister wedding to the best of my ability and act like it doesn't bother me that I wasn't asked to be a bridesmaid. And is why I will probably not jump on the phone to call my brother who doesn't know the adult me at all.

katzankatz
01-30-2015, 10:35 AM
I guess I don't think too hard about it. "Family is the most important thing ever" is not something I chose to live by. In fact, I think having that philosophy can put unneeded stress in our life. The people around me include friends and acquaintances and Dh's family as well, and they are important in the roles they play in our lives. Our families are so spread out across the country that it is impractical to give equal attention to all members. Naturally, I see the ones who live in town here and the ones in the next state over way more often than the ones who live 1000+ miles away. I have cousins I've never met, and my kids have cousins they've never met either. Most of our family is peaceful about all this. I've learned to appreciate the benefits of the long miles between us because frankly, sometimes family can be annoying and not the most uplifting and positive people.

It's ok to make friends a priority over family. It's often more practical, and often it is a more loving relationship.

GM
01-30-2015, 10:59 AM
I think I agree with katznkatz.

blythe_ann
01-30-2015, 11:20 AM
That's kind of where I'm at a majority of the time, Katz. And I know what you mean about appreciating the miles in between you and family sometimes :).

judy02
01-30-2015, 03:24 PM
I think sometimes family relationships can feel more strained sometimes because you can feel that there's more pressure to get on because they are your family. And it can feel more painful or hurtful if you don't...that's my experience anyway.

blythe_ann
01-30-2015, 05:16 PM
I agree.
I also think they can sometimes be strained because other relationships are built on mutual interests. Even those that are with coworkers are built on the common workplace. But with family sometimes the only thing you have in common is eye color. Not all the time, just sometimes. And it's hard to force a relationship with someone you have no common ground with.

mum2only1
01-30-2015, 09:56 PM
I think sometimes family relationships can feel more strained sometimes because you can feel that there's more pressure to get on because they are your family. And it can feel more painful or hurtful if you don't...that's my experience anyway.

This has been my experience. My brothers just don't care. If I died they would act all caring, but they can't care while I'm living.

mum2only1
01-30-2015, 10:07 PM
I always wished I'd had a sister.

sugarplum
02-04-2015, 06:36 AM
I have a really close, large family. Some live in another state, and even with the distance, I was blessed with a pretty incredible family. That being said, one side of my family, we don't speak to. It's been a few years now, and unfortunately, I don't see things changing in the near future.

I totally agree with whoever said having friends that are like family. Family doesn't have to be blood. We have "family friends" that are at every "family" gathering...loved and welcomed with open arms.