Politically incorrect as it might be to object to this cheery little rallying cry, it has a dark side. I hear “family first!” and think, “everyone else, distant second.”
The problem is that some of us suffer (or enjoy, depending on how you look at it) a dearth of family, or of nearby family. For us, “family first” can feel a little exclusionary. And sometimes it is, actually, exclusionary.
I have friends who travel to visit family in my hometown, but don’t make time to see me. I’ve had a friend decline to help me in a time of need because family might need her for something.
I hate when friends without family are left to fend for themselves on holidays. At least I have my lovely husband and weird dog. Some of our friends don’t even have that. (And yes, we try to include those friends in our holidays. And yes, every few years we travel to distant family for holidays.)
I’ve always given friends with kids lots of space because I know kids need their parents more than I do. I figured everything would change once the kids were grown. But now the kids are grown and there are grandkids so—family first!
“Family first” is an honorable sentiment. I get it. It’s a matter of setting priorities, of making sure your nearest and dearest get the best of you. But “family first” can also make people myopic. So while you’re family firsting this holiday season, don’t forget those people who stand by you even without the obligation implied by shared bloodlines.
And that “family first” doesn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) mean “family only.”
Photo of happy family is available at Shutterstock.