Does Family Still Come First?

family comes first

When I was little, I was taught that family comes first. It was everything. Family was to be cherished and prioritised before anything else. I remember one Christmas when my dad sat down with myself and the next brother down from me. We wrote an agreement on a scrap of paper. It said that no matter what happened in our lives, we would come together as siblings every Christmas. Then, we signed it. My dad had had a few drinks, so I didn’t expected him to remember it, but he does and he mentions it every so often.

As the eldest in a large family, I took my responsibilities towards my younger siblings very seriously. I got into arguments and even fights on behalf of my younger brothers when I felt that someone had acted badly towards them. I would defend my family no matter what, even when I knew that they were probably the ones in the wrong.

Now that I am an adult I might not be as close to my siblings as I would like. I’m definitely not winning any ‘best big sister’ awards. We don’t spend Christmases together and we don’t see each other particularly regularly. We aren’t even all that great at sending Christmas and birthday cards to one another. This is mostly because of distance rather than a lack of desire. They now live hundreds of miles away from where we all grew up, whereas I live within 10 miles of my childhood home. But that feeling of family coming first is still entrenched in me. If one of them needed help, I would find a way to help them.

Because I am so far from my siblings, I have now created a sort of surrogate family which I surround myself with on a daily basis. I have friends who I cherish and members of my husbands family who I have claimed as my own. These people are just as valuable to me as my siblings and parents and I would do whatever I could for them.

I think that in today’s society family is seen as being less important than it perhaps was in previous decades. People are physically moving further away from one another and the demands of daily life means that it is easy to become disconnected if relationships aren’t carefully maintained. Families come in many forms. Some find that they are replacing their parents and siblings with friends and others around them. While I think that this is important in situations where family life can negatively impact your mental well-being, it makes me sad when families drift apart with no obvious cause.

Looking towards the future

For many reasons, this year has been a very reflective one for me. I have given a lot of thought to the type of people I would like my children to be as adults. They are growing up at a rate which is hard for me to comprehend. In just over a years time, the first of my brood will officially be an adult.

Above all else, I want them to be happy. But, I hope that their siblings will be a part of their happiness. I hope that somehow I can impart the same love of family that my parents gave to me. I don’t expect that they will spend every Christmas together, but I would like to think that they will support each other and be there for one another when they need to be. For now though, while they are still young, I will be the glue that holds them together.

What do you think? Is family still as important as it once was? Does family come first for you?

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