short stories

Are they family or relatives?

When does family become just relatives? This I believe is a great question.  People of all walks of life view this question extremely differently. Some believe once you say family, it includes all the people that are in your ancestry. Others feel family means the people related to you that are still alive. Others consider a certain group like clubs, gangs and maybe a whole community they grew up with as family.

My feelings may be welcome or scoffed at, but here goes. I was taught and have passed on to my children that family is you, your spouse and your children. Now, when I say children,  I mean those that are still in your care.  This means, it may be the blood child of both parents or one of the parents and not the other. The other being a stepdad or stepmom.

Before we go on, let me say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stepparent. Some of the best parents are stepparents. A stepparent has taken the children, knowing who those children are and loving them as their own. This is a true blessing, and don’t ever think otherwise. For any of you that have or had a stepparent, remember,  anybody can make children, but it takes someone special to take you in without creating you. This also goes the same for adoption. I believe these are very special parents. Don’t ever feel you are unloved if you were adopted, you are extremely important and loved. You were chosen from the many.

Now back to my feelings on family and relatives.  I believe when you find that special someone, and you move out of your parent’s house, something really special happens. You are out to start your own family. You, your significant other and your children are now your own family. All others at this point become relatives (nice to visit, but no longer considered home).

Multiple relatives gathered around a baby for her first birthday
Relatives are nice to visit, but it’s also nice to head back home after the visit

We all have that special place that we remember as home. However, home now is where your newly made family lives. I believe this is very important to understand. You and your significant other set the rules for your household.  You two have taken on that responsibility, as well you should. It’s nice to ask Mom and Dad for advice, but ultimately you two should have the final say. Your Mom and Dad did their job, and it’s up to you to decide what is best for your family.

I have seen many times how outside influences can hurt a marriage and family. I personally was involved in such a relationship years ago, and it was not good. Furthermore, I and my wife at the time would decide something for us and next thing I know,  my father-in-law would get too involved, and it would end up a big mess to  put it lightly.

Now, if your little family falls on hard times, and you have to move back in with one of your sets of parents, the game changes. You have to understand if this happens, you are now under the rules of the household you have just moved in with. I’m not saying it’s wrong, just be well aware what you are getting into and make a plan to move back out as soon as you can, if for nothing else but your own  sanity. Also remember, your Mom and Dad did their job with you already,  don’t make them come out of retirement and do it all over again.

Mom's left hand and dad's right hand together making a heart. Within their hands is a teenager's hands holding the baby's feet.
One whole family

I am the first to say that I’m no specialist in family matters, far from it. I have been in some of these situations and I know the problems they can lead to. If you plan on having a happy marriage for years to come,  you must back each other up and don’t let relatives tear you apart. As I said relatives are nice to visit, but home is home. Take care out there and remember,  we are all in this together.