Family vs friends or strangers - does family rate higher? Should it?

@mommyboo (13198)
United States
December 6, 2008 6:09pm CST
I keep coming back to this question because I am really wondering about the logistics. We are born into a family and then STUCK with it. You don't choose your parents. You don't choose your siblings. You don't choose crazy aunt Myrtle who has 15 cats and boxes piled up to her ceiling, and you don't choose cousin Bernie who lives in the woods in a tent and bicycles 35 miles to work each way. My apologies to anybody this resembles. Anyway, another thing. WHY do people in families feel so entitled? They feel entitled to treat each other badly, to take things out on each other, to take each other for granted. They also feel like they have a monopoly on your time, ie 'you should go visit your grandma instead of playing with your friends' or 'you should help you dad clean the garage instead of going to that concert'. In my opinion, because families don't for the most part choose each other, there is room for a lot of dysfunction. So many people who were abused, so many people with broken relationships with one parent or another, a sibling, another relative. Should people continue to put so much energy and emotion into repairing things that may never be repaired? Not everybody gets along, some personalities are just going to rub each other the wrong way - forever. Do you think that family should take precedence anyway? Or do you think that people whose families have clearly wrecked things with them should fill in that hole with friends instead, people who will understand and treasure them for who they are and who they want to be instead?
2 people like this
15 responses
• United States
7 Dec 08
If its not my mom, step dad, brothers, or niece, my friends come first. Even then sometimes my friend will come first. I don't get along well with my father, and the only reason i keep trying is because if it wasn't for him i wouldn't be here and he is not in the greatest of health. Even then half the time i wonder why i even try, because he is that big of an @sshole, even to his own children he is horrible. The rest of my family are too quick to use you and stab you in the back. I swear my family is the poster child for Dysfunctional. I wont even get into the latest trick a family member of mine did to me, but she ended up paying for it in the end. Needless to say i don't have much to do with them, but the worst part is, if they needed me i would probably do my best to help. I have to much of my mom in me. She likes taking in stray members of the family. Right now she has her brother and his wife living with her, and they are just using her, but she wont turn them out. They take things without asking, don't really help out financially, and are always complaining about how they need this or that and get upset when no one goes and gets it for them, which we dont because they are always wasting there money on things they don't need.
2 people like this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
I am familiar with the whole dad thing... I avoid mine. I can't even say mine is responsible for me being here because I am adopted, so that is how I can say with certainty that I am glad lunacy is not hereditary. I do often feel inclined to help too, but that doesn't mean I always do it. I don't live near my family any more, so if I were to offer help, it would probably be to one of my sisters and their families and it would have to be something serious. It's too expensive for me to fly all the time, and it would be tough to leave my daughter at home if I were to be gone more than a weekend.
• United States
9 Dec 08
Most of my family lives in another state, so i don't really help much. Last time i tried to it bit me in the rear..so i am always going to think twice before i help again.
@munhozmib (3853)
• Sao Paulo, Brazil
8 Dec 08
Hello, mommyboo. No, we do not choose our parents. We do not choose our family. But we do choose if we will spend the time happy by their side or angry because we didn't have the luck to get better relatives. No matter how a personality differs from the other, I still believe that friendship is possible. It will only depend on them both. If one agrees to open his/her heart to the other, then there aren't bad things going on in a family. A family will always be there. You can find friends and escape to another country, but your family will be left behind. Do not run from it. Do not pretend that your family doesn't exist. Learn how to love it. You can have friends, but they will never get as close as your family could be. Respectfully, Munhozmib.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
10 Dec 08
You really seem to be about making the best (or most) of any situation, at least based on how you post. Some people are truly toxic though and want nothing but ill towards others. What I meant in this discussion (as most people got) is that when you have people in your life who are family and toxic, do you still keep them in your life strictly on the basis of family? I have seen some people say that yes, you do. I also think there are cultural differences at play here. I live in the US, and as such, we tend to be independent of our families that we grew up in after we grow up. We form new families with partners and generally that is your 'new family'. If everything is well with your WHOLE family and you remain close, then you invite them to be part of your lives continually. If things are not well or you just don't stay close with them then you tend to just focus on your current family as your priority and let the rest of them have their own lives.
1 person likes this
@munhozmib (3853)
• Sao Paulo, Brazil
14 Dec 08
Hello there. I am sorry for misunderstanding the topic. I have already heard about how it works there in the States. Completely different here, in Brazil. You will see a son living with his parents even if he is 40. That's not hard to see. However, I also want to make my own family and be independent. This, though, does not means I will not visit my parents. I'd just like some privacy with my wife and kids. After all, they are my new family, I should also spend time with them instead of always having my parents close. Again, sorry for misunderstanding the topic. And I just think I did it again. =/
@apples99 (6564)
• United States
7 Dec 08
Family  - Family comes first because blood is thicker then water.
Friends are important, but family comes first friends come and go but family is forever and you'll always need there love and support, but dont get me wrong we all need friends, and I think its just a matter of balancing both, but there is no rank for me when it comes to my family though because my family will always come first before anyone else if I had to choose.
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@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
Hmmm.. see, as far as my immediate family, it does come first. Save the world or a bunch of strangers or save my hubby? Sorry world... gotta go with him. Save a burning building of people or my kids... heh, my kids. If you're talking my extended family though, I'm more even with them vs my friends. For instance I'm not going to take advice from family over my choice of friends or what I decide to do with my friends, although I might take my friends' advice for how to handle a situation with my family. When you are not a kid any longer, it's your friends who know you better, unless you are very very close to your parent(s) and or you consider a sibling a best or closest friend.
@ronaldinu (12440)
• Malta
7 Dec 08
In Malta the value of being a family is still treasured a lot. We live in a small island so that you often meet your extended family. However individualism and hectic life has alos influenced the lifestyle of the maltese people. I am afraid to see that I see one of my brothers only a handful of times a year. He lives about half an hour away by car from me and we don't see each other much. Though we contact each other by telephone often. I try to help my family as much as possible. However I do treasure my friends as well. It depends on what is the situation is. I try to juggle between the two responsibilities. © ronaldinu 2008
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
Oh how I wish that the rest of my extended family was only 30 min away by car lol. I would be able to see my sisters every week and my mom too. That is a good distance where people would not be just dropping by every time you turned around but not so far that it was prohibitive in terms of time and distance (gas costs).
• India
7 Dec 08
Yes family should always be rated higher because they are the only prople who really care for us and admire us and stay with us when we are in real difficulties so family should be given higher rating and there are also friends who give us moral support so they can also be given importance
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
This must be based on culture. In American culture, the traditional family system has broken down quite a lot. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but it is what it is.
• China
7 Dec 08
you need your family's support,and your family need yours.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
Yes, but is it deserved strictly on the basis of family? I can't agree with that perception.
@violeta_va (4834)
• Australia
7 Dec 08
I am lucky because I dont have to do anything for anyone in my family just because they are family. I dont care that I have only 1 male cousin and he is the oldest an old that I refuse to go visit him in jail because I simply dont care any more about him and his life style and the things he choose to do I dont care that he is family. But if someone deserves my simphaty and my time and effort I dont care if its the first person on the street that I meet in the morning. In my family we dont asume that because we are family we are going to stick together and help each other and all that. We all know that if we deserve that we are going to be there if not then they should not expect us to be there. How can my cousin for eg. expect me to do something for him when all he does is lie to us, puts our lifes in danger and all that. He is smart enough to know that he does not deserve it.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
You have a healthy view towards what is required of you. In my opinion, you cannot expect someone to be there for you or stick up for you unless you are willing to do the same for them in any situation. That is why I think there is a strength in friendships which is more complex than family relationships.
@shyama86 (73)
7 Dec 08
Hi, If you keep family in one side of a balance and yr friend on the other always the side of your family wl be weighty . As you said you hv no choice of yr family, yr parents, yr relatives . yes, life is that much mysterious and full of illusion. You dont know what is going to happen to you the next moment. A good family relationship can be had when all the members of it have a sort of give and take policy, is caring and helpful to each other if need be. There are many selfish friends too who turn their back when a friend in need . Of course a good friend wl never do that. You cannot find a substitute to ur mother, her love towards her children. She never expects anything from her children but always loves them and pray for their well being. This you cannot expect frm yr friend.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
I wish I could say that ALL parents are good parents but I know some who have abandoned their families, spouses, children, with hardly a second thought. No, I do not know why or how they can justify something like this but they have. You cannot find a substitute for a mother or father, no, but anybody can be a mother or a father, that does not mean just anybody can be a real parent.
• India
7 Dec 08
we all ways should stuck with our family and also with friends,we are here outbeacouse of our family support and encaragement.friends are those who clears our path and makes us to reach the destiny by providing solutions.we cannot success with out the support of family and friends.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
I suppose the point here though is that even if you are here BECAUSE of your family, if your family does not support and encourage you but rather lacks support and DISCOURAGES you, you need to find other people who can help you accomplish and reach your goals. If you don't, you end up turning into a disillusioned unhappy person who all of a sudden is not even MOTIVATED to accomplish anything, and that is a very dangerous state to be in.
• United States
7 Dec 08
i think family shouldnt get any special treatment or forgiveness at all! family can hurt more than friends can and i dont believe in sticking around people that hurt you because your suppose to because they are your family.. i think that is bs!! but its amazing how many people just bend over and take the abuse because they feel they cant turn their backs on family.. like the people tht are abusing them now are REALLY going to help them in the future!! i was telling my best friend who says she feels like every one she is close to (including me) is a part of her family and i was saying i dont ever feel like that.. and that to me family is some one you are stuck with but friends choose to be with you
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
I know that's why some friendships are so important - especially when you clearly meet needs for each other that other friends or family cannot seem to meet. My best friend and I do a lot of social things because both of our husbands are not into that stuff lol. I think it's amazing too how many people just take it or let it go, when someone is characteristically abusive or taking you for granted over and over and OVER, yeah, fat chance they are going to suddenly own up and apologize and make it up later, know what I mean?
@ushaqwer (95)
• India
7 Dec 08
family should be given more importance.friends are also important but more than that family is important.people who are ready to sacrifice thier lives for us are definetly family members.friends can sumtimes cheat us ofcourse true frnds will not do it.but family members will never cheat,our parents will not cheat us,our sibling will not cheat us.will they?
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
But that IS the question, isn't it? People would like to say or think that family would not hurt us purposely or cheat us or stab us in the back, but it seems that family does indeed do this - in the guise of being family so it is somehow OKAY. That just doesn't sit right with me. In families, the only choice made in any case would be the parents - who chose to have a relationship and either marry or at least be a couple and then have kids. After that, you have no idea what is going to happen, how the kid(s) will be, if they get along with each other. Sometimes kids are hard and wreak havoc with a couple's relationship. Sometimes a couple just grows apart. Yes, I have seen a wealth of awfulness within a family structure, cheating, stealing, abuse and neglect just a few.
@lvaldean (1612)
• United States
7 Dec 08
At some point in our lives we make choices about family members, those that have a high slap factor, sometimes have to be put in the closet and forgotten. I know that sounds cruel but it is simply the truth. Blood is not always thicker. Blood does not entitle you too abuse me. Sorry that door shuts and the lock is turned at some point if you have any sense of self-preservation. There comes a time when dysfunction turns into idiocy and then into simply pain, why should we tolerate this? If the holidays become a chore, or even painful for us; something akin to having our wisdom teeth pulled while still awake ... well this should be avoided. I have several family members that I find difficult. Some I know are that way because they are simply ignorant, no brought-upsie as we say. It isn't their fault and if they are young enough I am willing to work with them to correct the damage done and hopefully help them to understand why their bad manners are problematic. Usually this works to everyones advantage. I have some members who simply have extraordinarily high slap factors, my mother is included in this membership. My defense against this group is to avoid.....duck and dodge is the name of this game. Their sense of entitlement is not my problem. I am pretty upfront about where they stand with me. Guilt trips don't work, I don't walk on that freeway nor do I pay that toll. My mother is a travel agent with a standing order for guilt trips, my brother buys regular tickets and tries to pawn them off on me. These days I just laugh, thank him for his thoughtlessness and move on. I speak to her every 90 days whether I have anything to say or not. My friends are my choice.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
It does not sound cruel to me at all. So far the responses have clustered around the fact that since friends are our choices, friends are more important. I find this is direct opposition to how a lot of people ACT, even if they may not believe that way. I mostly avoid my dad, and every time I start thinking about maybe not avoiding him, I find out one of my sisters had a run-in with him and he acted weird, so I guess his slap factor is pretty high. I still wish from time to time that I could fix things but I also know that fixing any relationship takes two, and nothing gets resolved if only one person cares.
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
7 Dec 08
Hi mommyboo! I always love your discussions! Well that kind of sounded like how I used to feel with my miserable dysfunctinal family when I was a kid and I was made to go to the family "events" I hated them with a passion! I hated everyone in my damn family on both sides! And I was right, because today whoever is still alive in either side of the family I wouldn't know or give a rats azz and neither would my Mom who will be 78 years old and her damn brother is still alive and 5 years younger than her and she has nothing to do with him either! My point, I kind of lost it thinking about my Uncle whom I despise, is that I have made my friends family! They have in most case been better to me than my "blood relatives". So, the point being~Is blood thicker than water? Hell frigen no! Give me a friend any day over a relative, Please!!!
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
Good... because I believe friends can be many times more precious because friends KNOW that they are there with each other because they want to be, not because they are forced to be. A friend can walk at any time, family for the most part cannot and some of them take advantage of that lol. It's funny because for instance I did choose my husband so at least I have one choice in my life, but you don't get to choose your kids personalities, and even if you love them, if your personalities are incompatible at any time, it can be really frustrating.
@relundad (2311)
• United States
7 Dec 08
I think even though you don't get to choose your relationship to your relatives, you do have the right to decide your interactions with them. I don't think that as an adult that you have to treat a non-deserving person in any special way because of their relation to you. I run into this a lot, as I am better off financially than 99.99% of my family. And for some odd reason, most of them think that somehow I owe them something because I was born into their family...NOT! I help those that I think deserve to be helped, not because they are sorry, lazy, don't want a job, didn't get a education, is waiting on a hand-out AND my relative. As adults I think we have the right to choose who we associate ourselves with regardless of whether they are family or not.
1 person likes this
@mommyboo (13198)
• United States
8 Dec 08
Excellent, excellent answer! My sister and I talk about this sometimes because she especially feels that our dad is like resentful that we are doing well, that we have good relationships, healthy kids, etc. It's very strange to me because to me as a parent, I am proud when my kids do well, I am happy when my kids are happy, and I want them to be successful and fulfilled. I really hate that whole 'you owe me' type of attitude and I work very hard to stay away from anybody who starts getting grabby of my time or my things because they think I 'owe' them.
@arkaf61 (10882)
• Canada
12 Dec 08
Because there are members of the family that do feel that entitled I have learned to not put family first indiscriminately. Some of my family members sure are right there on the top. But that's because of who they are, not just because they are family. ON the other hand, it is true that sometimes we do cut family some slack, but for me... just some members of the family, not all. I have been hurt, abused and upset by people that would not be even acquaintances by choice, but were family. Not anymore for me :) I have of course, friends, that rate much higher, deserve much more, and are, in my heart family.