The older we get the more we begin to realize our idea of family and how it should function is not always reality. Not everyone is raised in a two-parent household, not everyone gets along genuinely with their siblings, everyone does not have a bond with their parents and sometimes people don’t even share the same DNA. While some of those things may be phases and some of those things are “common” or “acceptable, I think it’s also time to realize those things are just reality.
My ideas of a happy family came from The Cosby Show (save your side eye and your judgement, it’s still a great show*), My Wife and Kids, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Black-ish. While it is refreshing to see black families growing together, fighting and yet still loving together, struggling and striving together; it is always a smack in the face when reality pops its head back in the door. Looking at my family, while I of course love them, it was nothing like I see on TV.
As I started to mature, become more aware of whom I was, I realized that I was forced to love people who were family but I had no relationship with. “Protect them, Love them, respect them, be understanding, forgive them, be sensitive towards them”, they said. Why? Because you say so or because it’s the right only way to treat those we call family? Not every person in your family may be deserving of those things. Not everyone in your family behaves or acts like family therefore do not deserve such action. Family is a word to describe a bond, a connection and time spent developing those things. That’s why so many people call their friends their family and some of us find out we have a new cousin every three weeks even if they aren’t really related to us.
When we were kids, we were taught about the Golden Rule; treat others as you would want to be treated. I genuinely took that to heart and it has followed me throughout my adult life. So why can’t I apply that to family? I know what some of you may be saying, “no one has you like family”, “so you’re just going to turn your back on your flesh and blood?” and “you only get one family”. In reality some people do treat me better than family. Treating people accordingly does not always mean you turn your back on them but sometimes needs to take place for your own peace.
While I would love to have a family that resembles the Huxtables, the Kyles or the Johnsons, in real life, that may just not be for me. That does not mean I won’t strive for that, but it does mean I am not going to force that either. Relationships have different titles for a reason; to accentuate on the different connections and behaviors of people in your life. However, those lines are sometimes blurred.
I hold the idea of family near to my heart. Whether it be a bond with my friends or with those sharing the same DNA, the idea is special to me. The foundation of family is important to the well-being of a human being. I do however believe that you treat people accordingly, regardless of what category you place them in.
Take this message as you wish and do with it as you please.
*I do not condone the behavior of Mr. Cosby in anyway. I am heartbroken and disgusted with the stories and his actions. However, I am still going to watch The Cosby Show, Fat Albert and Little Bill :)