21 March, 2015

Blood is thicker than water...or is it?

The old adage that blood is thicker than water runs deep. Many people adhere to it, or at least understand it. But for a whole tranche of other people, this adage has no bearing whatsoever on their personal reality and they struggle to understand what it means. I fully appreciate their point of view.

I am an only child. My parents separated when I was very young. My father left the family home and, once he had gone, I barely saw him again. My mother's mental health has always been poor, which means that we have a fractured and difficult relationship. My contact with other family members was very limited (non-existent on my father's side), and they showed little familial interest in me.

As a result, 'blood is thicker than water' was a meaningless phrase in the context of my childhood. The idea that blood relations mean more that friends was an alien concept, since I had not had the experience of a nurturing family on which I could rely.

I have been lucky as an adult, however. I married into a large family whose members are supportive of one another and who welcomed me with open arms. I gradually learnt that I could trust and rely on these people in a way that was inconceivable with my blood relations. And my children have been raised in this supportive environment. There are two of them and they are extremely close, which is wonderful. But, what is more, they are very close to their paternal grandparents and they love meeting up with their aunts, uncles and cousins. They have a strong sense of family.

I wouldn't wish my early experiences of family on anyone, but they have undeniably given me an insight into a different kind of life. I am glad, in spite of that, to have been able to raise my children in a close, supportive family environment. For them, I guess, the adage that blood is thicker than water rings true.

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