Today I would like to introduce Paul Wandason to you. He is a father, blogger and author. In this post Paul is reflecting about his relationships with the immediate family, relatives, friends and all the other people who play important and sometimes less important roles… You’ll find a short bio and links to Paul’s blog and social media sites at the end of his post. And please, feel free to discuss and comment this post… It’s always great to hear what you think!
I recently read an interesting and insightful post on voiceboks. In that post the point was made that it doesn’t matter if your family members do something wrong…because they’re family. And you still go to visit family even if you know beforehand there are going to be problems of some sort…because they’re family.
As long as I can remember (and probably beyond…) it’s always been crystal clear: it’s always family first.
My wife laughs at me because I seem to have a system of “circles” when it comes to family, friends and trust.
Is it right to have a system? Actually, system sounds very structured and mechanical. But I didn’t sit down and think it up…it’s just that I was brought up in a very loving family with a very strong sense of family. It’s always been family first within my family, and I strive to keep that the same today.
My wife is different. The family she was raised up in, by comparison, is very weak. But I must say that they have a larger share of close friends – a bigger merging between family and friend (or my “inner and outer circles”).
Should we keep our family separate and special from the outside world? Or should family love be extended and shared out, implicitly trusting ‘outsiders’ and welcoming them into our family circle more easily?
I suppose I prefer the first option – I was raised in a strong, tight family environment. It seems natural. I feel special and loved within my family. And secure. On the flip side, my wife’s family have a large network of people / contact they can call on for help.
So welcome to my world…what do you think of my family circle system! 😉
Inner circle (inner)
Unconditional love for: My immediate family (wife and children) and the family I grew up in (Mum, Dad and my brothers).
Members of the inner circle can get away with anything. I would die for them, no questions. Family first!
Inner circle (slightly outer)
Slightly further out from the inner circle is the immediate family of my brothers (nieces, nephews, wives). I love them unconditionally and would do anything for them too, although ‘first allegiance’ is to my own family (e.g. I’d give a kidney to my daughter before my niece, to my brother before his wife, etc..)
Love is love. I don’t love more or less. I love each differently. I love my wife in a different way than I love my daughters, but I love them all infinitely. Same with all members of the inner circle. It’s all very fuzzy!
Middle circle (inner)
The middle circle is for other family members (e.g. by (diluted) blood or legal proceedings). Aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws and their families.
Family members here are…family (duh!) so generally I trust them over non-family members.
For example, I trust that a family member has the best interests of my children closer to their heart than someone from daycare. I don’t always agree with my in-laws’ child ‘care’ methods…but I do know that they have a genuine love for my children.
Daycare on the other hand are more in line with my ideas about caring for children (and listen to me when I talk about preferences etc.), but at the same time they wouldn’t jump in front of a car to protect my girls, as I’m sure my in-laws would. I trust the motivations from my in-laws (love), but not those from daycare (money).
It’s the spirit of the law, not the letter.
I guess that’s what makes a hero – someone who does jump in front of a car for non-family members. And close trusted friends. They’re in the middle circle too; I know they’d do the same.
There is also a degree of fuzziness in the middle circle as it has both close family and friends. But where “blood is thicker than water” for the inner circle, there’s room for some thin blood and some thick water in the middle circle!
Middle circle (outer)
Everyone else. This isn’t personal exclusion, it’s just that I don’t know these people yet, and I’d hope that one day I’ll be friends with them and they’ll drift into my middle circle.
Actually, when I say “everyone else”, what I really mean is “everyone else except those who are…
Beyond the circle
People in this ‘cloud’ are out of orbit and off the chart and get here through an eviction process. This is the region of anti-circle where instead of not having trust, there is extreme distrust. I try to keep these cretins out of my life completely, and certainly out of the lives of my inner circle.
There’s an expression about keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer. Rubbish. I don’t want my enemies anywhere near!
Clash of the circles
So there it is, my circle system which has somehow come into an empirical formation. But…I’m also a scientist and need to be objective. Does the circle system always work? I don’t think so – here’s a funny conversation I had a couple of days ago which shows why:
My friend had been sick for a few days, so I sent her an email asking if she was feeling better.
Friend: “I’m feeling a bit better now, but I’m staying at home today just to make sure. My daughter’s at the play group so I’ve got the house to myself.”
Me :”Good idea – if it’s nice and quiet you can relax and recuperate.”
Friend: “Well, actually I’m really worried because now my daughter is sick, so I hope she’ll be OK at the playgroup.”
Me :”Yikes! That means my own girls will get sick too then.”
Friend: “Come on Paul…it’s only a cold.”
And yes…I admit that I followed up with:
Me :”Well if it’s only a cold…stop complaining!”
She saw the humour in that, but equally it’s clear that as parents focused on the well-being of our own children in our own inner circles, we have warped view of the global picture of reality! 😉
From a Daddy, Paul
About the Author:
Paul Wandason is a father of 2, husband of one and master of none. He lives his life wrapped around 2 little fingers and under 1 thumb…and loves it! His Daddy blog is FromaDaddy where he writes his thoughts and experiences as a Dad, and sometimes, a few practical hints and tips. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.