What Makes A Family?

Yesterday, after school, I was hanging out with a colleague for a little while.  We were talking about my blog (believe it or not, she actually brought it up first).  I told her a story about when I had reblogged a post from one of my favorite bloggers, which is hysterical, and later another friend of mine told me it was the best and funniest blog post I had ever written and she was sharing it with her friends.

But, of course, I hadn’t written it.  Paul at The Captain’s Speech had written it.  The post is about going to a restaurant with friends and I guarantee that every person reading this can relate to it.

In typical Barb Knowles style, I’m making this story a little longer than it needs to be. AT ANY RATE, when my colleague read Paul’s blog, she saw his profile picture and said “Is he your son?  He looks just like you.”

I fell out.  Paul is from Canada, I’m from the US.  If we did our DNA our ancestors would be from different parts of Europe.  But he does have black hair, as I did.  And he’s around the age of my kids.

But the point, I think, is that I know him pretty well now and think of him as my “blog son” (somehow, as happens sometimes, this is becoming Barb’s blog featuring Paul). Which made her laugh out loud.

Now maybe I’m actually getting to the point, our conversation became how charged the word family is.  Is Paul my family?  No.  But I interact with him more than with some of my nieces and nephews and I never hesitate to give him unsolicited advice as I do with my own children.

Many of my students are like family members and I still have contact with parents of students of mine who graduated long ago.  Are we social friends?  No.  But we share a bond.

What makes a family?  As I do our genealogy, I’m drawn to these ancestors of mine. “Blood is thicker than water” is an expression for a reason.  But there are many people in my life, as I’m sure there are in your life, with whom we share a familial relationship.

Acquaintance:  Have you met my sister so-and-so?

Me:  I didn’t know you had a sister!

Acquaintance:  Oh she’s not my real sister, but she’s like a sister.

Family is defined as a blood, DNA, biological bond as well as a personal, tight bond of affection.

My colleague thought Paul was my son, and that we look alike, because of the way I spoke about him.  And yes, he has black hair, but he does not have my smile.  Well, maybe he does a little.

I have no biological sisters, although I used to beg my mother for an older sister.  I do, however, have friends who are like sisters to me.  And, actually, we probably get along much better than biological sisters because we don’t carry the emotional crap from a shared childhood.

So what makes a family?  Love, friendship, support during good and bad times and knowing that the other person will always be there for you and you for them.  That is found biologically and socially.

And, sometimes, seen through warm words while looking at a picture.


About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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26 Responses to What Makes A Family?

  1. Val says:

    Originally, I thought Paul was your son, too… I think it’s because of how you talk to each other in comments. But you’re right – often our friends are just like family to us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Yes, sometimes we end up with a side conversation on comments, lol. I think it really depends on how you define family. I have family members who are close generation-wise but I don’t know very well, and friends I’ve had for 30 years with whom I’m very close.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re absolutely right. Some of our relations are far less in nature of blood relations but feel as good as them. And in other cases a person you’ve never met before feels like one of your own. And don’t we,when we get married, accept the others as family without the presence of a blood relation? Then why can’t friends be family too? Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to call myself “the orphan of everywhere”. I am an only child with little extended family and indifferent parents. It took a long time to learn how to stand on my own two feet, not to look to other people to fill the family void. You can say friends are like family, but those friends will always put their family first. I’m good now, a lone wolf with a lot of friends and an empty house.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paul says:

    Haha thank you Barb! It’s funny, all my life I’ve never really know what my hair colour is. Because when I look at it, I see dark brown but everyone else sees black….including you. Weird lol. Also, you haven’t read my latest post yet, but this post relates directly to it. Good intuition.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Garfield Hug says:

    Sometimes DNA family members do not make good family members. They may be more estranged than the one that ‘look alike’. It is the bond and affinity shared that makes any relationship and not necessarily blood that makes it a mandatory requirement to be “family” is my experience and humble opinion. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes your friends know about you (and me) more than our family members do!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Coleman says:

    I agree, sometimes family is “blood” and sometimes it is just the people with whom we form strong relationships. And with the exception of my husband and kids, I have to admit that I’m usually closer to those who fall into the second category.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      Here I go again….I totally agree with you! The difference, I think, is that we can become close to people in certain situations like work or as neighbors. If they move away, the bond doesn’t always remain close. But we still have our biological family, if we are close to them. I’m super close to 2 of my cousins, and am not sure where others live. This is rambling. I guess I’m just saying that families are complicated.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the definition of “family” is so very personal.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Almost Iowa says:

    This quote is not about family, rather it is about home, which is close and the best definition of family comes from Robert Frost’s Death of a Hired Man

    “Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
    They have to take you in.”

    Liked by 1 person

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