What is a modern family?
- In the ’50s, it was the Ricardos, Nelsons, and Cleavers.
- In the ’60s, the Addams, Montgomerys, and Robinsons.
- In the ’70s, the Bradys, Jeffersons, and Bunkers.
- In the ’80s, the Ewings, Keatons, and Huxtables.
- In the ’90s, the Bowers, Tanners, and Simpsons.
- And in this century, the Sopranos, Pritchetts, and Bluths (my favorite).
But there’s been another type of family growing in ranks on TV and in real life.
Laverne & Shirley, Perfect Strangers, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends, Ally McBeal, 30 Rock, Community—what do they have in common? Their casts of characters support, fight, understand, and accept each other just as much as any traditional family members would, if not more so.
“Sure,” you might say, “but ummm, Angela, those people are fictional.”
Of course they are. But entertainment loosely reflects reality, and gen x- and y-ers are increasingly creating friend families. I’ve experienced it firsthand, and I’m guessing, so have you. As we move from our home towns, states, or even countries to pursue our goals, we arrive with baggage—physically and mentally—in tow, but no one to help us lug it (or sort through and purge it, whatever the case may be). That’s where friend families come in.
We band together, support each other, and lend each other a hand. We become families in the truest sense of the word. So much so, in fact, that my daughter has more aunts, uncles, and cousins than I could possibly count. Do eyebrows raise when my biological family hears me call them that? Sure, but my friend “family members” have worked to earn those titles. And they wholeheartedly deserve them.
Differences in our blood do not change our shared experience. If anything, I’d say it strengthens it over that of someone who is required to endure all of the quirks and bumps accepted with an inherited connection.
With friends that are family, they are making the choice over and over again to be there for you, thick and thin, good and bad, easy and not so easy.
And for that, I’d like to extend a very appreciative THANK YOU to everyone in my Seattle, Chicago, Mankato, and Northwestern “families.” I’m so happy to have you as my sisters, brothers, parents, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
How does your friend family differ from your biological one?
Why not text, phone, or write them a personal thank you today?