Is blood still thicker than water?
Family cohesion continues to dwindle and break down as people start looking at family as last resort in their lives. People now identify themselves more with their workmates, the church they go to, the schools they attended, the clubs they belong to, the bars they go to and the sports and recreational activities they jointly attend.
The naked reality is that you may take a year or more without seeing your auntie or your father but you meet fellow rotary club members every week and meet your friends in the bar every evening. The connection you have with your workmate or members of your church is so strong that they even organize birthday parties for you and recommend you when taking loans from banks. One is left wondering if blood is still thicker than water.
Let me ask you some personal questions: Was your family with you when you started your first day in college? When you failed your course and needed support, when you topped the class and wanted to share it with the world, when you had a bitter breakup, when you needed money or a shoulder to cry on? You are likely to notice that you did all that with your friends. You shared the small and big moments with them and they were there for you. This makes them somehow more important than your relatives. Not so?
A new research by a Michigan State University scholar indicates that the power of friendship gets stronger with age and may even be more important than family relationships. Friendships become increasingly important to one’s happiness and health across the lifespan. They are actually a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with family members.
We should also note that because of the optional nature of relationships, that over time, we keep the friends we like and make us feel good and discard the rest. On the other hand we have no choice over who should be our relative. Whether good or bad they are our relatives and we have nothing to do about it.
Our friends can also provide a source of support for people who don’t have spouses or for those who don’t lean on family in times of need. Friends can also help prevent loneliness in older adults who may experience bereavement and often rediscover their social lives after they retire.
The way relatives frustrate people you may even start doubting if they share the same DNA. I have seen people in the Diaspora being frustrated by their own relatives when they send money for projects. The problem is that relatives are more likely to take you for granted than friends. Why? Friends have got to work hard to win your trust but relatives don’t feel the need to.
Whereas friends are closer to people than their families, family has never been completely useless. Family is almost always there for you in times of need. Your parents stay awake with you when you are sick, work hard every day to earn money to put food on the table, buy you new clothes, video games, everything. They teach you how to speak, walk, and even clean yourself after you go potty. Big brothers help you with sports and girl issues, sisters keep your secrets and tease you all the time, uncles give you money when they visit, and aunts tell your mother to let you do stuff. This is all okay and thanks to our relatives. It is just that as we grow up and move away from family to start living independently we start feeling the need to have other people around us. They start as neighbors, workmates and so on.