I No Such Thing as "Just like Family"

Updated on January 13, 2012
R.H. asks from Fayetteville, AR
12 answers

When my mother died, my siblings and neices' friends were in the family processional line. They are at holidays dinners. They add input to sibling arguments, etc. They, in essence, are intelopers with no boundaries.

I have asked them to but out but my family will interject--no, she/he can get in the family photo--she's like family to daddy, etc.

If this is you==why do you do it???

How do you handle people who feel as though they are 'family' when they are really just close friends of certain family members.

I am African-Amercian, but I wonder if this type of misbehavior is culturally global?

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answers from Houston on

ETA: I shared this with my mother, and she and I very passionately agree with you.
I am a person who believes that family has little to nothing to do with blood and is all about choice. That said, "just like family" for one person does not make it automatically so for everyone else. A long history is different. The best friend of a family elder who's been "family" (with a handle like aunt/uncle) through generations is not the same as my sibling's best friend who's been around since junior high school. And that's not the same thing as the new love of my uncle's life, even if he thinks that this time is it.

Family photo should be relatives only.

The way that I handle these intrusions is to intentionally exclude them from certain activities and include them for others that I think are appropriate. It sounds mean, but I treat them differently. I am so very particular about my space; I won't hug someone who feels forced on me, even if I hug everyone else in the room. If I am actually having a conversation that I think is none of their business, I let them know directly that I am talking to someone else and not them.

I think that it is beyond rude for relatives to force who they consider family into intimate circles with others.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from New York on

My grandmother and her best friend had known eachother for nearly 60 years when my grandmother passed away. At the funeral, "Auntie Vi" and her children were there. She sat with my great aunt, mother and aunt in the front row of the church, not because she "expected" to be there, but because those women wanted her there. Five years later when my "Auntie Vi" passed away my mother, sisters and I were sitting in the front of the church with her children and grandchildren. We didn't expect it, but also were not surprised by the family's request that we join them

What I'm saying here is that I remember asking my "auntie" when I was young how we were related because I couldn't connect the dots. Her response stuck with me and was part of my eulogy of her (yes, I did her eulogy).

She simply said "We're related in the very best way- through love and choice. I choose to love you and that's all that matters." Just something to think about the next time you get so upset about something so very trivial. I have two friends who will probably say the same thing to my granchildren 50 years from now... at least I hope they do because it's true!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I have lots of friend that I consider family...and I don't consider it misbehavior.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think this is a conversation that you should have with the relatives that are including their friends. I think it's appropriate to tell your siblings and nieces, for example, that you would like a few "family only" photographs at any given function. The friends sound oblivious about their boundaries, but it's your family that is inviting them over in the first place. I think the friends could be forgiven feeling closer to the family than you think they should if your other relatives are insisting that they are.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Do you not have friends who are that close to you?

My best friend and her sister are JUST like family. I was in the family procession for her grandpas funeral, we do holidays together, our kids are each other nieces and nephews. We love, argue and treat each other like sisters. My own sister has a friend with the same relationship. I think its perfectly normal.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think if it bothered me as much as it does you then I would simply step out of the frame until the person goes away. Take some formal portraits at Walmart of somewhere and only invite the people you want to be in it. That way you'll at least have some pictures without the odds and ends clinging on.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I'm with you. That's my personality. I'm a private person and while I have very close, long-term friends (20 years - elementary to now) they're not family. They're friends. They'll be there when something happens like family, but they don't try to ACT like they have a say in family matters. They act like family in their support and help, but back off when it's truly a "family matter."

That said, my cousin from my dad's side is always attending large family events for my mom's side. But that's really how it's been since my mom and dad were dating. Their brothers were best friends, they brought my dad's youngest sister (my cousin's mom) along with them to my mom's family gatherings, etc. However, she doesn't get in the large family reunion photo... she's helping by taking photos.

My family is all from Mississippi where everyone is "kin." We don't always know HOW we're related, but as long as we have a blood tie (no matter how thin) or if you married into a blood tie, you're kin and you're treated as such. Heck - it took some doing, but we finally were able to convince my cousin's long-time partner that she deserved to be in the family photo.Friends and girl/boyfriends etc. are not family.

Friends aren't family, no matter how close they are.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think a family photo should be just family, a group photo can be everyone.

I have friends that are more like family to me than many of my family are. I don't understand/agree with many of my family members and would enjoy having my picture taken with my honorary family than I would my real family. I am not talking about my immediate family, but aunts and uncles, cousins, etc....



answers from College Station on

I agree with you. But, I would also take 2 pictures. One with just family and one with everyone else.
And no one should be up in your business.


answers from Phoenix on

I have a friend that I have become close with over the last year or two. she is 10 years younger than me and although she has family close by, they are not close, dont get together for bdays or holidays and generally don't like each other. so now I invite her to all of our familly holiday parties that are at my house. At first my mom was pissed since we have a small family and generally didn't invite others to family get togethers. However, now that she has been around her more, she even calls her her "adopted daughter"!!! When we take pics, we include her in the group shot, but then also ask her to take some of us as "just family".

My feelings are this, if the party is at your house, don't invite them if you don't want them over. If the party is at someone elses house, you don't have any say or control over who is invited so dont fret about it. Good luck!



answers from Houston on

I think you are misplacing your anger, and you should be directing it at your family and not the "outsiders" as you call them. Obviously people in your family have made them feel that they are part of the family. I bet they would be hurt to know that you feel they are not.

Instead of talking to the friends, talk to your family about how you feel. If they stand strong that these people are part of their family, then maybe you should accept it and stop being so harsh.

Blood doesn't make you family, it's caring and being there for people. You don't get to choose your blood relatives but I like to think that I can choose my family. I have many friends that I consider part of our extended family, and I myself have been included in other friends families and I would be very hurt if anyone in their family talked about me like you did.

With that said I think there is a gentle way that you can suggest to have family only photos without hurting people feelings. What harm will it do to allow them to be in some photos, but then say "oh I'd love a pic of just us, or just you 2 etc." to intentionally exclude them and treat them differently is rude in itself, but that is just me and I was raised to be accepting and loving.

For the record I'm white and I don't think this has anything to do with race.



answers from Austin on

This irks me too. I have to say that the "family" friend should be mannerly enough to back out of the picture. If not, ask the family to stay together for another picture without said friend. I would not make a big deal of it in front of everyone. That will just make you look petty. I think this problem crosses all the cultural boundaries, my Hispanic girl friend talks about her sister's best friend doing this same thing even on a Wedding day. We white folks have them too. I have to think that maybe they do not get love and acceptance in their own family and they need the validation that yours provides. Good luck to you and remember JC would want you to be nice. It is hard, I agree.

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