Thursday, April 05, 2007

Family ties

I'm not all that close to my family. My family is the type that sticks together through it all, helps each other in times of need, and stays happily at arm's length from each other. We've had a lot of good times over the years and being on good terms is a blessing I don't take for granted. My wife's family, on the other hand, are really close. Siblings there are best friends. I love hanging around them as a group because they enjoy themselves so much. My family has parties and good times, but her family's connections seem deeper.

A lot of this could just be perception. I can't be objective, of course. I do know that I've never been particularly close with my siblings. My brother who is nearest to me in age is nothing like me. He thinks we're more similar than we are. I think he's somewhat crazy.

I guess I just want to know the secret of being best friends with family members. How do people do it? I've seen plenty of examples of dysfunctional families over the years, but precious few really amazingly close ones. My best friend in high school had a family like that I always thought. I wonder if it was just an illusion.

I've never had a bad relationship with anyone in my family. But there's nobody in my family that knows I'm gay. I don't think it would change things if they did know. We wouldn't be closer. We wouldn't be further apart. We'd still see each other at the same family gatherings we always have, and we'd love and support each other in the same way we've done for decades. Maybe a family of grown adults can't really change their relationships anymore. My little new family is just getting started, though, and I'd like us to be tight.

4 comments:

Laura said...

I think closeness is relative.

I am the youngest of eight kids, and we were all pretty close growing up, outside the natural sibling rivalries here and there. I was always really close with my oldest sister, who is 17 years my senior.

That all changed when I came out. Out of my entire family, I had one brother who wasn't just devastated by the news. My parents kicked me out, some of my siblings worried about having me around their kids, etc. Some of my family has since come around a little bit, but I was amazed that they adored me one day, and abandoned me the next because of my sexuality.

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Scot said...

As the youngest (of 8 too!) and by a good distance, most my friends in family were my cousins, nephews, and nieces. We’ve a close family but I've wondered how it’s different with siblings nearer in age.

I worry about how to ensure a tight family too, but when asked now who their best friends are, our boys inevitably name the other. We’ll see how that changes with age and the “three’s a crowd” dynamic when they start dealing with separate friends.

Maybe a lot of being friends in family has to do with the sort of person you'd make friends with elsewhere, somewhat up to chance of personality. I too hope to know how best to skew that chance. But even if they don't end up good friends as well as brothers, family is family, if you know what I mean.

Laura said...

I agree, Scot. I'm closest to those siblings in my family who are similar to the friends I've made as an adult.

In the same vein, I'm closest to my nieces and nephews because they're just a few years younger than me and because as part of a younger generation, they don't get as caught up in the details of my personal life. They know I'm still their aunt, so we get along great.

Gay LDS Actor said...

My family has always been very close. I don't know the "secret," if there is one. We just grew up very close. Everyone in my family knows I'm gay, and it hasn't made much of a difference. My brother is probably the least happy about it, but it really hasn't affected our relationship. He's made it clear that he thinks I'm making the wrong choice. I've made it clear that I respect his opinion, but that I'm living my life this way. Other than that, we still have basically the same relationship we've always had. My family is big into playing games together and getting together for dinners and parties and such. We all look forward to it. Again, I don't know what the "secret" is. It's just always kind of been that way.