We have all heard the common phrase “Blood is thicker than water.” The idea that familial bonds are stronger than those of friendship or love. This illusion that family members are superior to those not related through genetics. In actual fact, the reality is that isn’t what the original saying meant at all.
The original phrase is as follows:
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb,”
Meaning the blood that is shed in battle is a far stronger bond than birth and genetics. So it means the total opposite. It’s interesting to me because I don’t have a conventional ‘blood’ family, so hearing that blood is thicker than water doesn’t always mean the best.
Family – What Does It Mean?
Almost nine years ago, I cut all contact with my birth family. I’m a big believer in cutting out the things that are toxic in our lives, and for me, my family was a whole gallon of toxic. Well, one person was, and the problem is when you have one bad apple, it can rot the entire bunch. So I made the decision to estrange myself if you will for the good of myself and my children. Although this has never been a decision I have regretted, it has often left me feeling exposed somewhat. Family is supposed to symbolise unity and safety. I naively believed initially that by not having these people in my life meant I didn’t have a family.
My Version of Family
My version of family is somewhat different from the conventional meaning. The reality is that my husband, who is not blood-related (thank God because that’s illegal) and my friends whom I hold very dear to me are in fact the family I never had. ‘Losing’ these people whom I share genetics does not mean I have lost a family because after all, you cannot lose what you never had.
My family starts with our home unit: my husband, myself and our two boys. The past is merely irrelevant. I have friends I would consider equal to siblings; it is these people who are family. The people that matter. The people that are there.
Is Family All Genetics?
So what do you think? Can family only ever be built on a foundation of genetics? Is the idea that not sharing the same blood as someone else means you can never be as close as two people who are related through birth?
Close friends of my husband are adopting two children this week. This is admirable and selfless. It has been a long and challenging process, and for them to finally be at the point where they can give these children the life they deserve is euphoric for all involved. They are neither related through blood or genetics, yet they already love those children as if they are their own. So, when it comes to the phrase “Blood is thicker than water” I much prefer the original interpretation.
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I cut all contact with my father over 30 years ago, when my son was a toddler. It was the 2nd time I had become estranged from him. The first time was when he threw me out of the house when I was 16. When I applied to university some years later, I had to contact my father as in those days the grant you received depended on your father’s income. My father was keen to reconnect, so I went along with it for a few years, meeting him a couple of times a year, until he did something unforgiveable. I decided I did not want him in my life, or in my kids’ lives. In my view this has been the right choice, as I feel it would only have been a matter of time before he did something hurtful to one of my children. My family comprises my husband, my 2 children and my granddaughter.
Oh, I can relate to this in so many ways. I didn’t go to university for that exact reason. I was told that any financial help or grant would be dependent on my parents income and despite explaining that we were estranged there didn’t seem to be any other way around it. We did reconnect later down the line but I think it was out of my pure desire to have that idealistic family my friends all had. It has absolutely been the best decision for both myself and children to make that clean break and I really do believe family is what you choose. Sounds like you have done the best thing for your family too x