This week’s Something to Ponder topic is “what does your family portrait look like?” Before you start painting your family portrait, there are a few factors you should really think about.
1. What does family mean to you as an individual? Please do not reference the definition listed in Merriam-Webster or Wikipedia because I promise family does not have to be as cut and dry or black and white as it appears in these reference materials. For me, a family does not always have to consist of blood-related persons. A family can be, like most experiences and life lessons, what a person makes of it. You can almost choose who you consider family who you do not.
2. Once you have determined YOUR meaning on family, think who would be included in your family portrait. Would you include people like lifelong friends and their families, co-workers, Greek-lettered organization members, cousins who are more like siblings than cousins, god parents and siblings, etc. Really take the time to make a list(s) of these people because you’d be surprised who would make the list and who wouldn’t. For example, I often say I have approximately twenty siblings (including my two biological half brothers and step brother), five moms (including my biological mother), two dads (my biological father does not count), a step dad (my mother’s second husband), two nephews and seven nieces (two of which will be born relatively soon).
Now keep in mind that this does not mean your biological family means any less. It just means that there are other people who are there for you “through thick and thin” like your biological family is should be. Notice I said should be… There are people out there who are related and that’s it. The emotional connection of being a family simply is not there. You may care and love them like you’re supposed to but anything past that is pretty much none existent.
For example, despite the fact that she and my Papa (pronounced paw paw) helped raise me, I do not have an emotional bond to my grandmother. She is just my mother’s mother to me. I care about her well-being because I am supposed to as a grandchild. I cannot bring myself to be fake and say oh I love you grandma like I really do love her because I would be lying. Of course, she and I had a horrible relationship when I was growing up and that has always played a major role in my emotional detachment from her. Don’t act like this hasn’t happened to you or someone you know.
Believe me when I say I realize there are biological families who are not quite as dysfunctional as mine. Those families are blessed beyond their wildest dreams.
3. While you were making your list(s), did you determine that you have multiple family portraits? I can honestly say, I have multiple family portraits because truth be told, I am different when I am with certain individuals or groups of people. Take for example, my Delta Omega brothers of Alpha Phi Omega at THE University of Houston. There are members I would proudly call my brother and my family because not only have we truly taken the time to get to know each other outside of the organization but these are the people I know I can count on when it is time for a chapter service project or to handle chapter operations.
So have you decided what your family portrait will look like? Do you have several or just one? And how does this portrait differ from the one that physically hangs in your parents or grandparents homes?