Friday, January 4, 2013


Families.  For all practical purposes, in one way or another, we all are a part of one.  No two families are the same and the dynamics with in each family is different.  Some families are extremely close with love between the parents and kids and between the siblings themselves being so strong it is almost impossible to believe.  Other families are torn apart at some point and while the entire family may not be isolated, at least some members of the family distance themselves from the unit that they grew up in.

Families are more than just the primary unit of parents and children.  Families, in a larger sense, include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and all the relatives that derive from this extra entities.  Families can reach a count close to a hundred different people who might gather for reunions at a regulated time.  The larger family reunions seem to be good affairs with everyone seeming to get along and happy to reacquaint themselves with each other.  What I think though, is that a lot of these good feelings and getting along are not what the true feelings are.  There are just too many people with different personalities for everyone to get along.

Even in the basic family unit of parents and children, the different personalities are a clear set up for conflict at one time or another.  There may not be major conflicts, but there is bound to be a disruption of some sort.  Every family can relate stories of siblings not being able to get along because they just think and see things differently.  Individual minds work differently and a lot of times siblings just can't understand why one sibling's mind works so differently from the others.

I have lived my life for 56 years now and I have noticed something from observing families at different parts of life.  It seems when the basic family unit is young, it is a close family.  As the kids grow into their teens, the children tend to have conflicts with the parents putting a small wall up that is easily tore down once the children leave the home and head out on their own.  Then at some point, the siblings go into a conflict of some sort as they start their own families and drift away from their brothers and sisters while continuing to grow closer to mom and dad.  Finally as the parents begin to age and the children start to see time catch up with their parents, the siblings start to grow closer once again to regroup as a close family unit.  After the parents have passed on, the siblings bonding grows very strong as they see themselves being caught by passing time and realizing they won't be together as long as it seemed they would be twenty years previous.

There is the other side of the coin that happens much too often.  At some point an event or something occurs that completely blows the family apart beyond repair.  There is the possibility that a couple of the members of the family will stay in touch, but hardly enough to make the family whole again.

So the questions comes up, why do families matter?  Families matter because there is a need to have someone who has known you for the whole of your life to be there for you.  It is important for siblings to try to keep in touch as much as possible.  This is difficult though sometimes and as brothers and sisters grow up, their lives take them in different directions spreading them around the country and perhaps the world.  The space that separates the children as they grow older makes it more and more difficult to keep in touch with each other to the point of understanding their lives and what they are going through.  It becomes very easy for brothers and sisters to lose contact completely in this busy world as they try to run their own lives and raise their own families.

When this happens, aunts, uncles and cousins sometimes are taken into confidence to make up for the lost connections that have come about in a basic family unit.  The extended family is important for support when we find ourselves alone and separated by space, time or emotions between siblings or even their parents.  The cousins, aunts and uncles have a connection with you that few people in the world have.

I had an uncle that was in the military for awhile and became a traveler away from the family.  He filled the void by joining a family that was created to fill the void.  It was a family of friends that grew as close as if they were really related.  I met this family of friends that he had and they shared a love among each other as close as any family could.  They were special people that I still keep in contact with and feel like I share some of his love for them that he had.

Family does matter.  Family gives love.  Family gives support.  Family gives a sense of belonging.  Depending upon circumstances and the dynamic between people that belong to a family by blood, the best family could be your basic family unit, the extended family of cousins and their parents, or a manufactured family of friends that feel the same needs that you do.

We all need some sort of family because of these reasons and whatever kind of family you end up with as the best for you, is better than no family at all.  If your life and personality do not allow you to be able to have a family that you can support or that can support you, then you end up lonely and lost and always searching for something.  If you are lucky and are able to find a family, any kind of family, then you will have someone that you can be yourself with, without putting on a show or wearing a mask to hide who you really are.

Family does matter, if anything to help us keep sane as we pilot our way through life.

1 comment:

  1. So true Bill. It has been my experience that our family has grown further apart as each generation reaches adulthood and begins their own little families; and once the parents pass, the siblings rarely stay in touch. That's my family. And like your observation, I have friends who are "closer than a brother"; I'm glad to count you and Barb among those friends.