I’m Not Close With My Family, And That Is Totally Fine

by Clint Edwards
Blonde woman cooking in a kitchen while carrying a baby on her chest and offering a spoon to a littl...
Peter Muller / Getty

I haven’t talked to my brother for four months. Before that, it had been… 6 months? Maybe 8. I’m not sure. I talk with my mother once a month or so. My father is dead, so we don’t talk. I have a half-sister, and we talk about as much as my mother and I do. I haven’t talked with my half brother in almost a year, but I keep up with his new wife on Facebook, so I feel informed. I have a slew of step-siblings who were once family, but now… I don’t know what they are. This sort of thing happens when your mother is on her 3rd marriage and your father died divorcing his fourth wife.

And perhaps that’s part of the problem. Or at least, I assumed as much for a long time. I didn’t have all that great of a family life growing up. I moved around a lot depending on who was married to whom. My blood siblings sometimes lived with one parent, while I lived with another. I don’t think any of this is all that unusual anymore, but at the time, it made family seem pretty temporary. It made me pretty agile when it came to getting to know people, and it made me accustomed to change.

But at the same time, it made me wonder when someone would leave, and it kept me from getting too close to anyone I was related to — mom, dad, or otherwise.

And for a long time, I assumed that this was why I’m not close with anyone in my family. My wife talks to her mother and sister every day. She doesn’t get my family. But now that I’m older, and I’m not as bitter about all those marriages and all that moving around, I’m starting to realize that, while it probably had an impact on how close I am with my family, for the most part, I’m just not that worried about their lives anymore. We get along. When we talk, we laugh and joke. We reminisce. But all of us are pretty focused on our own families now.

We all have good jobs. We all take care of ourselves. We all love our children and our spouses, and we take care of our own. But with each other, we are kind of in this ‘meh’ stage, where we call on holidays and text on birthdays, and love each other from a distance. We are all in different states, and we are all in different professions and different stages, and because of our rocky upbringing we have all learned to manage our finances and emotions on our own.

And you know what? It isn’t that bad of a thing. In fact, most days, I don’t even think about it. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on some rewarding thing. I don’t feel like I’m being cheated or ostracized or anything like that. And I don’t think any of my family members do either.

In fact, last October, most of us met up in Utah for my mother’s retirement. She’d worked at the power company collecting payments for over 30 years, and she was calling it a day. This was the job that supported us after my father left, and so it was kind of a big deal. We all went out to dinner together. And we all sat at one big long table like a family, and there was a moment when I was walking back to the table after taking my youngest to the restroom, and from a distance, all I could see were smiles and all I could hear was laughter. I don’t think anyone in that restaurant would assume that were weren’t close. That we didn’t call every day.

But once it was all said and done, and we’d all said our goodbyes, we went back to our homes, and back to our lives, and it all went back to the way it was before, with a handful of phone calls once a year, and keeping up on social media.

And you know, that’s fine.

So if your family is like mine, and you don’t talk all that much, but you do, for the most part, keep in touch, it’s all good. You don’t need to feel bad about that. It happens. It could be because of a rocky childhood, like mine. Or it could have to do with the fact that you are just focusing on your own little family right now, and you don’t really need or require input from your parents or siblings. I know a lot of other couples with similar distance from the family they grow up in, and they just don’t need them in their lives right now.

What’s really important is that you care for the little ones in your home right now. To make sure that they get the best upbringing, advice, care, and guidance you can give them.