Monday, October 3, 2011

You can choose your family

"It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons." ~Johann Schiller

Since battling through teenage hormones, bullies and acne, I have come to live by the philosphy of erasing negative people from my life.
Recent events have made me question the saying, "You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family." Finishing school enabled me to choose the people I spend my time around, (although I have come across my fair share of negative people in the workforce), but over the last few years, I have been lucky enough to have an amazing group of friends who love me for exactly who I am, who have control of their own lives, who think about the effect their actions have on other people's lives, and who are ambitious and know the meaning of hard work.
I come from a very close, hardworking, loving, "normal" (whatever a normal family is these days) family. I grew up in a comfortable home with my parents, brother, sister, cat, dog, and white picket fence, so I guess by old fashioned standards, we could be considered normal. My extended family, however, is constantly challenging the word normal, bar a few awesome aunties and uncles and cousins (you know who you are).
For a long time, I have challenged obligation invites to parties and the sentence, "at the end of the day, he's my brother". To me, family are those people you can rely on for hugs of comfort, a place to stay, and a listening ear. My flesh and blood are my mum, dad, brother and sister, and my extended family are those who have my respect.
I grew up in a mother's group around 22 other children and today, 23 years later, those mothers who occassionally breastfed each other's babies, punished each other's children, comforted any child who needed it, and gave us all places to sleep when they got together for games nights and us kids got tired, are my family.
Those kids with whom I jumped in the creek, played dressup, drank watered-down juice, ate marshmallow slice, shared birthday parties, packed tantrums, and learned to tell time and tie shoelaces, are my family.
My best friends who are always keen for a quiet drink, camping trips, and dressup parties; who offer a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a sense of humour, are my family.
My partner, who I could write a novel about - let's just say i couldn't imagine spending my life with anyone else - is my family.
While I do have some amazing "blood relations" - aunties who crack me up and who I can have an intelligent conversation with, and cousins who I chill out with at Christmas time playing pool and backyard cricket, some of my "blood relations" do nothing but hurt people, cause problems, and have no control over their own lives and expect other family members to bail them out or feel sorry for them. These are the people I choose to not call family because they hurt the people I love most and have a negative effect on our lives.
As I mentioned before, I have had it with obligation invites, and I hope this post will challenge people's idea of obligation. OBLIGATION has to be one of my least favourite words. We all get to choose how we live our lives, and just because I am descended from some of the same people as these negative influences, that doesn't mean I owe them anything.

So what do you think? Do you believe in the sentence, "at the end of the day, he/she's family"?

1 comment:

  1. To me, it is very much depend on the merit of the case. I don't apply the principle across the board. If they really deserve, then why should bring in the blood relationship.