Blood is Thicker Than Water: Is Family all about Blood?


Family isn’t always blood

We only know the family or relatives with which we are born, the connection we did not choose. We get along with our lives and meet so many people who sometimes become more of ”family” than the family we were born with.

“Blood is thicker than water” means that family is more important than anything else. But is the bond between a family really only based on connection? And are we actually using the definition of the proverb correctly?

the proverb “blood is thicker than water” we have all heard. This says that family is above everything and generally has a more important meaning than people we meet in the course of life. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But when I hear exactly that, I keep rolling my eyes.

First, the adage is an affront to all adoptive children and parents, all patchwork and polyamory families and all other forms of loving coexistence. Who actually has the right to say that adoption or other types of family ties are less authentic, loving and important than connection?

Second, the saying is mostly used these days to impose an obligation or to excuse the behavior of a member of the family. Since the person in question is related to you, you should do more, accept more, and apologize more than you would with someone else. But let’s be honest: not all families are the same. Just because you are related by blood does not mean that you are family members. But that is exactly what the definition “blood is thicker than water” suggests.

For a long time I did not understand the hype about the family. The family members who neither respected me nor were nice to me are just as unimportant to me as an unsympathetic person on the train. Why should I flex a single finger for this person? Because we have the same blood? No, thank you – a better reason has to be found.

Of course, I also have family members whom I absolutely love. But that is mainly based on the fact that we grew up together, for example, and therefore share many wonderful memories. Or because we’ve spent so much time together that we know each other inside out. Whether related by blood or adopted. I like and respect everyone I count in my family – and that is mutual. Do we have to be related by blood for this? No.

So I’ve expanded the family term for myself a little. For me, my best friends belong more to my family than certain uncles by the blood that I hardly know. I also brought my friends into my life voluntarily: They are more or less my chosen family.

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Of course, it’s nice to be able to rely on the family and know that they are always there for you. As a child and also as an adult. But just because someone has the same nose as you does not guarantee cohesion. In addition, a genetic band is not a free ticket to perform however you want – the family does not have to put up with everything, and certainly not excuse everything. Because consanguinity should not be a blind obligation, but a soil on which a real relationship can grow.

While some may no longer understand the world now, I can only say one thing: I would even be right with the proverb – if we used it correctly and knew the correct definition!

What many do not know is that “blood is thicker than water” is just an abbreviated version. The long version, however, has a completely different meaning: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”. That means something like: “The blood of the blood contract is thicker than the birth water”.

However, the origin of this proverb is difficult to determine. There are sources that say that “blood of the covenant” refers to the Old Testament. After that, it was common practice to slaughter an animal and place oneself in the animal’s blood in order to conclude a contract. This bond is stronger than that of the family. According to other sources, the proverb relates to war: blood spilled in battle binds soldiers more strongly than simple genetics.

Whichever interpretation one takes, the weight of genetic family ties has always been questioned. And so should we. Because we also deserve a certain amount of respect from our parents and siblings. If genetics is the only thing that connects two people, it can break down pretty quickly. But we also have the freedom to include people in our family who are not related to us. Strong bonds can develop anywhere.

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I am Jessica Moretti, mother of 1 boy and 2 beautiful twin angels, and live in on Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia. I started this blog to discuss issues on parenting, motherhood and to explore my own experiences as a parent. I hope to help you and inspire you through simple ideas for happier family life!


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