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So who's family?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
This question came to mind this weekend. We were over at my mom and Dad's on Saturday and Fiance was getting some old family stories, such as my grandma's last years. Well, my mom was saying that her SIL took over the situation because her brother (aka my uncle) was sick with brain cancer. My mom said she was upset at the time because her SIL (who was married to my uncle since she was 17/18) isn't family. She felt that someone from the family should be taking care of the nursing home bills and such.

Yet when fiance and I went down to see his family yesterday they were all saying they've considered me family for years. So they're just happy that it'll be official.

For me I have always had this notion that once you marry someone, you're also marrying the responsibilities of their family (as they are with you). So if you love your SO and you love their family and participate in it, then you are family.

Ummm..what are your drawing lines on family?
post #2 of 24
Family is more about feelings, than blood. My pops is actually my stepfather but, he's the guy who's alway been there for us. All of our kids/grandkids call HIM "Grandpa". Before my maternal grandmother died, Pops moved her into the house, gave her her insulin shots and even paid for her funeral.

I consider my DIL family. Sam always gets Christmas presents and Mothers' Day cards from me and I spend Christmas Day, at her parents' house.

I hardly ever see my brothers. We have very little in common and I try to avoid associating with drunks and druggies, even if they ARE blood kin.
post #3 of 24
You can choose your friends, but not your family. To make a long story short, my family is my immediate (kids, DH, pets). I also avoid what the previous poster said, only its not drunks and druggies. Just want to keep it short and not go into detail.
post #4 of 24
To me family is the family I had before I was married and when I got married Mason's family became my family too as mine became his.

I also have two very close friends that I consider my family.

So I guess to me family isn't always about blood.
post #5 of 24
Family is immediate family - parents, siblings, grandparents (etc.), aunts/uncles and FIRST cousins. If they are married - their spouses would be "family".

But if any of them are divorced, the ex spouses would NOT be family. Although some in your "family" might still consider them family. I also don't consider them immediate family if its 2nd cousins, or other then the above - it would be more like "extended" family.

Now sometimes you have a long time family friend that might be considered your family, but that's probably only a few that would qualify
post #6 of 24
I consider my immediate family, including my brother in law, family. The extended relatives on one side I also include in family, on the other side its more tenuous... they're all very close but they treat us like outsiders because we moved out of the town they live in and all went to college.
post #7 of 24
Family is a mtter of feeling and not blood. I consider my SIL family (hubby's sister) but not my BIL (sister's hubby). He is mean spirited and to me he will always just be my sister's husband. I consider my in-laws family (my MIL was very much like a mother to me). But my MIL never felt like family in my FIL family. She was told after 50 years of marriage to my FIL that she "wasn't a real McFarlane" After 50 years of being a McFarlane she was more of a McFarlane then a Burns.
post #8 of 24
Yes, it's not always blood that makes you family. One of my mom's maternal aunts took in a boy whose stepmother did not want him in the house after she married his father. Though not related by blood, Mom always considered him a cousin and he even took care of another of Mom's aunts until she died.
post #9 of 24
I have two close friends that I conceder family. In some instances we've given them money, a place to stay, and fed them when they didn't have anything else.

Family to me is when that person calls and has a crisis you drop everything and run to them.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lookingglass View Post
I have two close friends that I conceder family. In some instances we've given them money, a place to stay, and fed them when they didn't have anything else.

Family to me is when that person calls and has a crisis you drop everything and run to them.
I definately agree with your answer. My thoughts exactly! They don't have to be blood to be considered family. I have some friends whom I consider more family than some cousins that are SUPPOSED to be family!
post #11 of 24
I agree family is more feeling than blood, you can't choose who is related to you, but you can choose to make or not make them family, for example, my dad has a very large family, 2 brothers and 3 sisters and multitudes of nieces and nephews, but I could pass one of my cousins on the street and not know who they were they are not my family, at least to my way of thinking.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
I agree family is more feeling than blood, you can't choose who is related to you, but you can choose to make or not make them family, for example, my dad has a very large family, 2 brothers and 3 sisters and multitudes of nieces and nephews, but I could pass one of my cousins on the street and not know who they were they are not my family, at least to my way of thinking.

In my case it's definitely a matter of choosing who I consider "family".
post #13 of 24
Anyone you are related to by blood and anyone you are very close to. for example. I have a very good friend of mine who I consider a brother and have for years, even though were not actully "family"
post #14 of 24
ugh. I am dealing with this myself with FH's exhausting, maddening, sad, dysfunctional family. As individuals, they're completely fine. Not what I'm used to, but I was raised on the fluffy white cloud of affluence and over-education and these are very hard-working people who haven't shared my family's incredible luck. In terms of how they function as a family, and call me traditional here, I'm getting to the point where I will clearly scream soon.

Mom's both depressed and an alcoholic. In my mind, these things are both chronic illnesses, not unlike lupus or asthma. Well, she has a ton of debt and she can't hold down a job for more than a couple weeks and all of the other classic symptoms of these things. Dad, FH, FH's younger brother, FH's live-in Grandpa, FH's aunt and uncle and 2 cousins are the entire family. Not ONE of them has stepped up to do anything of use to help this poor woman (whose behavior, if I didn't realize was beyond her control at this point, would make me scream). They confront her and make her all defensive and create a big argument every once in a while, but never help her. It's like if she had gotten her arm cut off or something and they were all yelling at her about how her stump of an arm was bleeding all over the carpet, but not actually rushing her to the ER.

So, I've talked to FH about this countless times. He agrees with me, he thinks I'm right, but won't actually take and use my advice. The rest of the family is unwilling to hear me talk about this. They treat me well, but they don't et me in when things are HARD. Heck, they don't let each other in when things get hard.

So, I don't feel like I'm part of his family. He treats me like family, but his family doesn't even function as a family and I'm clearly not going to be the magic glue that brings them together.

Meanwhile, my family is over on its fluffy pink cloud where its admittedly been easy (slogan: no family issues since grandpa went crazy in '83!) and we sort of just suck people in. My best friend from high school and her parents and brother join us more and more often for holidays and functions, and we with them, for instance.

So, it's not about blood, obviously. If my best friend from high school's mom and I are closer than FH and his whole family, it can't be JUST about blood. But things have been good on the fluffly pink cloud, so blood can't hurt.
post #15 of 24
Sorry to hijack....what does FH stand for?.....
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva! View Post
Sorry to hijack....what does FH stand for?.....

FIRST Hubby?
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e View Post
FIRST Hubby?
you are so bad!! I think in Allie's case it means future hubby
post #18 of 24
I guess for me family means both those I am related to by blood and those who I choose to be close to. There are friends of my parents who are closer to me than the majority of my blood-related aunts and uncles, and I'm already closer to most of J's family than I've ever been to my own -- but then, in both our minds, his family is now my family, and vice versa. (Which is a better trade-off for me than it is for him ...)

My family is dysfunctional. My grandfather was a functional alcoholic (which I only learned recently; he passed away when I was very little), my grandmother suffers from depression but won't do anything about it; my uncles abused me when I was a child (and are now about the two most worthless excuses for human beings that, as an adult, I can't believe I was ever afraid of them or allowed myself to be intimidated by them ... but that's a rant for another day); my cousins are shiftless and suffer from a variety of social and mental problems that they will never seek treatment for. My father's side of the family is more well-adjusted, but we're not very close. I sometimes feel like my mother, my sister and I are the only "normal" people who came out of my mother's side of the family, but I know that we're just as dysfunctional as the rest of them ... we're just better at faking normality.

J's family, on the other hand, is like the freakin' Brady Bunch or the folks on Leave It to Beaver. They all adore each other. They voluntarily spend time with each other (which is a foreign concept to me). And the funny thing is, it's like the lot of them collect people like me, people whose families are less than ideal: his uncle's wife, his aunt's husband, me ... It's like J's family feels compelled to bring comfort and love to those of us from broken homes.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
you are so bad!! I think in Allie's case it means future hubby
OMG that's so embarrassing I was sure it meant First Husband! Sorry Allie
post #20 of 24
We had a similar problem erupt here as the OPs. We have a large ethnic family, as in, I saw my third cousins on a regular basis growing up. A family emergency came up, and a few of the aunts and uncles gathered to decide what to do. They met at an uncle's house.

One of the other aunts walks in, and got upset that his WIFE was there. Yes, she went to HIS house and got upset because she did not consider his wife family. She actually asked his wife to leave the room because this was a "family matter". No one else spoke to this particular aunt for quite some time.

We normally consider everyone who has holidays with us family. I have two cousins who are actually step cousins. One had two little boys, they're family. So is his new wife (not even the boys' mother), and we had a huge wedding for them. Several people who come to holidays aren't even related to me, but they all count as family. There's actually a group of other people my age who are first cousins to my third cousins, and we have holidays together, so they're cousins too.

It does make remembering the real relationships confusing. When my fiance was introduced to the family and asked how the first person he met was related, we laughed. "If they're older, they're auntie and uncle. Same age is a cousin. Babies are nieces and nephews." I didn't even understand the relationships until I was 16.

Besides, it's easier to say "Uncle" than "my future aunt-in-law's live-in boyfriend".
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
you are so bad!! I think in Allie's case it means future hubby
you guys...
post #22 of 24
Family has nothing to do with blood and genetics in my book. Parents can be those that birthed and raised you, but parents can also be that couple that cared for you since you were a baby. It doesn't matter whether or not you share any genes at all with your family. As long as they love you, are there for you, help you, and care for you, then they are family. I consider some of my friends to be my family, and some of my 'family' are merely genetic donors because they were not there for me and so are therefor, not family.

You can have a 'mother' who beats and abuses her children and cares nothing for them. In my book, she is simply the woman who birthed the children. She is not their mother, but simply an abusive woman who provided 50% of thier genetic makeup. Then you have that woman that cares deeply for a child that she did not birth, but loves even still. The woman is not related to the child, but as long as she cares for the child as a mother, then she is a mother. Whether legally or not, that is a mother.

I know this may offend some, maybe not, but here it goes. A parent is not defined by the fact they have a child. A parent is defined by how well they love and care for that child.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soka View Post
A parent is not defined by the fact they have a child. A parent is defined by how well they love and care for that child.
Very well said
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e View Post
FIRST Hubby?
I was thinking something worse f - hubby.
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