Have you noticed? Our speech is rife with the word” family,” “Regards to the family,” “Have you heard from your family?,” He is part of the family”, “family vacations”, “family size…”, “all in the family” and so much more.

At the risk of earning the epithet of dilettante, not being a sociologist, there are some observations regarding the family, which do deserve mention. In contrast with the historically recognized “extended family” (with some exceptions, usually found in rural areas) the modern configuration of the “nuclear family” (parents and their child(ren), “post-modern families,” ‘single family households,’” same sex families,” “”blended families,   (families with children of prior marriages) appear statistically to be the rule. There are many variations, but it does seem safe to say that the extended, closely bonded, family has largely been superseded.

Of interest here, is the understanding and function of the word “relative” and the consequent understanding concerning the relative expectations inherent in that noun..

There is no doubt that the institution of the family is the building block of any society, children are reared and socialized in the family; their care and upbringing by the parent(s) is vital and sacrosanct.

A pertinent question for discussion is the nature of the perception of the family member, including collateral relatives (Uncle, Aunt, Cousins) of his identity as a member of the family and the concomitant responsibilities, if any, resulting from such recognition.

The common expression, “Blood is thicker than water” (another useless aphorism) is more easily addressed, chemically, than otherwise. But the intended message is that those with DNA in common have a fiduciary responsibility and a permanent, or at least, enduring, tie to each other. This chestnut is extinct and mindless.

People do not, for example, ipso facto become true “siblings” (except legally) simply by virtue of the fact that they happen to have been born into the same litter, or to the same mother. As they develop and mature to the point that they are viable, self -sufficient individuals, the determinative questions to be answered, in this respect, are: are they close? Do they keep in touch? Is there a special, recognizable style of conversation? Do their interactions reflect common recollections? Do they share friends to any degree? Do they see each other as siblings?

People and their opinions and worldview often change leading to differences in feeling and alterations of a relationship; the spouses of married siblings may introduce, even unintentionally, issues between the parties, all of which may lead to discord and separation.

Too often heard, is the statement, “I am closer with m y friends than with my family.”  As is often said, “You get to choose your friends but not your family.”  Acid remarks around the family dinner table at holidays are far too common. It is strange to note that a member of the family who may at a holiday dinner table, use carelessly selected words, by slip of the tongue or otherwise will usually find that, even after his timely and sincerely expressed apology, his statement is transmogrified, exaggerated and enshrined in the family long-term memory.

By stark contrast, a slip of the tongue among friends, after a brief (sincere) apology, is quickly relegated to the proverbial dustbin. Isn’t it bizarre that in the family situation, people who bear close family relationships and who should therefore especially love each other can shift their gears so effortlessly to hatred?

It would, indeed, be a most joyous event, if we could combine friendship and family!



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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “Blog # 49 RELATIVITY”

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