Family; Familia; Famille; Familie; Familj…

I am back from spending a wonderful weekend with family during our biannual reunion. People travel from near and far to commune, discuss, fellowship, and bask in the aura of family love. Family bonds intricately bind our family love together in a beautiful weaving way. We toss away any feelings of bitterness, sadness, or hostility for a moment to gather strength through togetherness. And it is a wonderful thing. But what really is this family bond that we feel? Is it merely a feeling or is it something more that interconnects us? And does a family start with two?

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Missing from this reunion was my complete family – the inclusion of my children’s mother. Through the challenges of divorce my family makeup has changed and it is noticeable during these family functions. However, with the support of the entire extended family me and my kids moments are no less special; different and unique but special nonetheless.

My family bond is created through the desire to belong. Many of us may believe our common blood line might have a special magnetic draw for each of our family members, although, there is no evidence that a purely physical connection draws us any closer to one another. It is our desire to be part of something special that unites us. Family gives us special moments and memories building on top of one another creating lasting memories within the recesses of our minds.

We can connect with friends that can become family. We have family members we do not have anything in common yet we desire to connect. We marry and start a new family hoping the bonds of family grow stronger than the temptations to break us apart. And we constantly search to find that special bond that moves us forward. Connecting with family is an awesome gift.

Divorce changes everything. The new family you created changes. Dynamics within the extended family change. Relationships are different. It is a big adjustment especially when you have had a close relationship with the extended family. Divorce also requires us to change our definition of family. My little family unit has become a splintered family – torn apart. But the bond and love we feel from the larger extended family comforts us and continue to bind me and my kids. Thus, it is crucial to surround ourselves with loving family during challenging times such as these.

I appreciate the experience my children will gain. I love how their lives are touched by relatives, both young and old, and I see how important it is for them to feel connected beyond one side of their two parents. They will have a unique experience for their lives as they develop and nurture the bonds of family. My rich family history shows my kids there is much more to gain from a splintered family beginning. And it is up to me and their mother to help balance these experiences so as to not neglect one family side versus the other. There is nothing more valuable than being accepted and belonging to a tribe – and that tribe is what we call family, regardless of how it is created.

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