Thursday, September 10, 2009

my paper on Family and Fictive Kin - [Warning: I'm Back in School]

Being back in school I am writing many papers. Some of them I will post here specifically because they feel like a journal entry, and are meant to be such. Enjoy, if you like...si tu veux!


Question: What are the different kinship roles - such as nephew, aunt or uncle, in-law, grandson or granddaughter - that you play as a result of being a member of your extended family? What rights and obligations does each of these roles entail in your family? Do you have any fictive kin? How did they become "like family"?

Did you ever have an aha moment? One that you said to yourself, "self, this is what life is". Mine came to me when I was fostered by a family at the age of sixteen. The influence of fictive kin in my life was critical in my development. These family members took me in, as a stranded youth, and helped to soothe and heal the wounds of an abused and abandoned young girl. They loved me, their love, their structure and dependable nature matured me to the status of an adult who was ready to take on the world.

I leaned on them and learned from them that people can be good, kind, and secure. I still have daily contact with them, they didn't replace the family that I had, and that slowly I have found to come back into my life, they added to it. At the time, they were all that I had.

Over the years, as siblings of mine have found me, or been found by me, they have welcomed them and the family circle has grown. As my mother and father came back into my life, they helped me over the pain, therapeutically they helped me to heal and to be strong enough to have relationships with my biological parents. They have helped me when I have been at my very least, rock bottom. They created a sense of self-worth that allowed me to be who I am today. They are the people who took me from where I was and made me who I am! They became like family because of love!


People play important independent rolls in the lives of others. Whether that role is as a parent, a sibling, a friend, an extended member, their role is influential in the lives of those who they have kinship. In my family I now play the roles of Mother, Wife, Sister, Sister-in-Law, Granddaughter, Daughter, Niece, Aunt, Cousin, and sometimes Friend in each situation.

My right as a Wife is that I can depend upon my husband to provide, to listen, to be there for friendship, intimate companionship, laughter, and my obligation is that he can depend on me for the same virtues. We also are one anothers biggest fan, and cheering squad, as our role of parenting can be a difficult one, yet wonderful, there is no greater role.


As a mother my rights and obligations are simple. I have the right to govern their lives within realistic reason. I suggest to them the behaviors that I feel will lead them to have successful and happy lives. I allow them to make mistakes, learn the hard way, and I am obligated to be there as their cheerleader, and as their soft place to fall when they are hurting. I have the right to tell them no when I feel that the actions will bring them hurt or endangerment. I have the obligation to allow them to choose for themselves, and I am obligated to let them suffer their own consequences.

As a Sister, Sister-in-Law, Cousin and Friend I have the right to depend on them to be there for me, and the obligation to be there for them, in good and difficult times. I have the right and obligation to a shoulder to cry on, a lunch full of laughter or tears, whatever is needed and necessary at the time.

I love the role of Niece. I get to enjoy friendship with my Aunts, I get to seek direction from the, to ask for their unbiased knowledge. I know by the way my cousins turned out that the knowledge is good work. I have the right and obligation of friendship without complication.

As a Daughter and Granddaughter I have the right and obligation to seek comfort and help in times of need. The relationship seems to change as you get older. You are there for them as much as they are there for you. You love them, they love you. You understand them better, they understand you because they have been there. You forgive, your give your forgiveness. You realize that you are more equals, and you do equally for one another.



I enjoy each of my roles and I am grateful for the divine nature of the human family, that we have people in our lives who we depend upon and who can depend upon us.

3 comments:

CaJoh said...

I tend to forget that we all have our "Roles" in life. I am so glad that you are able to share in what roles you have as well as why you cherish them the way you do.

Thank you,

Mamma Christine said...

Did you take that picture too? I love it!

Heatherlyn said...

I enjoyed your post.

I sometimes wonder if I don't do more in my role as an Aunt. Beyond my relationships with my husband and children and parents I do very little. But then, it's kind of a two-way street. :)

on marriage

'Will you, um, marry me?' I haven't seen you in weeks! You don't look happy or excited about the prospect of our marriage! You're asking me to give up my - my freedom, my joie de vivre for an institution that fails as often as it succeeds? And why should I marry you anyway? I mean, why do you wanna marry me? Besides some bourgeois desire to fulfill an ideal that society embeds in us from an early age to promote a consumer capitalist agenda?