A Family Affair

For all the talk about husbands and children, and the occasional grandparent or two on CocoaMamas, we don’t very often communicate about our extended family networks. I often brag that in my house growing up there was always an aunt, play cousin or godmom around to chew the fat with. Lately, my network is getting somewhat smaller. I still agree by the general spirit however that, “it takes a village, to raise a child.” Tonight, I was reminded of the constant role that my siblings (two brothers and one sister) play in the shaping and development of my new family’s future. Are CocoaMamas (at large) still resourced and supported by their “old” families?

In my paternal side’s “heyday,” we use to gather for family sing-a-longs; mainly we would sing spirituals, peppered with a Stevie Wonder or Bill Withers balad here and there. My children, regrettably, will never share in those memories. However, my family has continued its artistic impulses, working collaboratively on film and digital music projects. My daughter (1.5 years) proudly joined us tonight for a “business” pow-wow. She moderated the meeting, all loud and boisterous on the other end of my brother’s speaker phone.

I am grateful to have a ton of friends, female friends in particular, that have nutured their relationship with me over the years to the point where I have no doubt that we will always be cool. It is trickier for family sometimes though. You have to come up with common interests and be equally invested in maintaining traditions to keep relationships going. Isn’t it funny how with friends you embrace new experiences; a “girl’s trip” to this exotic location or a new movie? However, with family you tend to only sign yourself up for the “same old, same old.”

What are you doing to keep your relationship with your siblings going, and most importantly, how are you modeling the role of family for your children?

2 thoughts on “A Family Affair

  1. I have to admit…the last time I talked to my brother, it was over some family drama. My mom is always saying we should be closer, but then I look at her relationships with her brothers, and again, they talk the most when there is some drama to talk about. I don’t think I know how to have a friend-like relationship with my family; it’s like they know me too well but yet don’t know me at all. That’s how I feel – they’ve known me my whole life, so treat me as if there is little new to learn about me. And I probably treat them the same, although every time I talk to my brother, I am amazed at the new things I learn about him! But still, our interests are different, we are into totally different things, and the same is true with the rest of my family. And sometimes its condescending…

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  2. I don’t have siblings, at least not any that I’ve ever had a relationship with. My father has a son 13 years younger than me, but recently as he turned 18, we’ve basically severed the very frail ties we had with him and his mother. Lot of drama there.

    Growing up with my mom’s family, I wasn’t as connected to my dad’s side as I would have liked to be. Then, going away to school for 8 years, they all grew together and I missed out on everything. My mom’s family all moved down south in the early 90s and we were disconnected. Then, when my mother died, I cut them all off with the exception of 1 or 2 cousins, who I keep some connection to. However, my closest cousin lives in Portland now and has never met my son. I took G to meet his great-grandmother and extended family, but that was enough for me. She called to wish me a happy anniversary a few weeks ago; she has no idea I’m getting divorced. That says a lot about that.

    So, I don’t have much close family aside from my dad and step-mom. They’re both workaholics, so getting them to socialize is impossible. However, I’m moving right down the street from them and I am making this move to better foster the connection. They will be moving to a home they bought in GA in the a few years, so I want to do what I can for G while they are still there.

    Thats it for me in the way of family so my friends are everything to me. Still, my friends, at least those with kids, live in other states. The friends I have here are all childless and most of them are single. It’s just not the same.

    This is one of the reasons I think G does better with his dad. His dad has a huge family. He has 5 siblings. G has an older sister from his dad. He is close to his grandparents (he has 2 grandmas and one grandpa on that side alone). He is close with his aunts and uncles. He has a strong sense of family from that side so by having him with his dad, he stays more connected with that.

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