Rambling Thoughts from a Wandering Mind


Kinship vs biological family

Earlier today, I was checking out the #solarpunkchat hashtag on Twitter and saw a call for papers about the topic of kinship and collectivization in literature (presumably, with a focus on solarpunk fiction). Specifically, it was focused on non-biological kinship. This got me thinking about the idea of kinship in my own context.

For a variety of personal and familial reasons that I don’t want to share here, it is looking more and more likely that D will be an only child. She is also very unlikely to have any cousins who live close to her. And, despite some admittedly half-hearted efforts, I don’t have close relationships with my own cousins (some of whom do have children of a similar age). This means that D is unlikely to have any biological relations who are close to her in age or circumstance.

How, then, do we give her the “sibling experience” without blood relations to fill the role? She will, undoubtedly, have friends. Everything I’ve read about only children suggests these friendships will mean more to her than they would for children with siblings. In my mind, however, this feels different than relationships one has with biological or adoptive relatives. Perhaps it shouldn’t feel different, but it does.

Because those eventual friendships seem somehow different from family, I’ve been thinking about how to create a kinship group that is not biological in origin. Mostly, I’ve been asking myself the question and not coming up with answers. How does one cultivate a non-biological kinship group within the context of a 21st century Canadian city? How does one create an intentional community without going to live on a commune?

I don’t have answers, so I’m asking you. What ideas do you have for me, dear readers?

4 thoughts on “Kinship vs biological family

  1. We lived in a co-op house for 5 years, and for a while it was a lot like having a family. Best of all, it was kind of like having a bunch of aunts and uncles for our kiddo. Co-op houses can be very simple arrangements — it’s great if you can arrange to own the house in trust, but even just a large rental house with a bunch of people interested in consensus process can achieve some of what it sounds like you’re looking for. Communes are neat too, but it’s a big investment.

    (By the way, did you know that when this page is viewed without Javascript, the text disappears to white-on-white? I was really confused at first…)

    1. A co-op is probably not the option — though I like the idea in theory — since we already own our home (though we could always sell, I suppose). We have looked into the idea of co-housing, which is similar to a co-op except that everyone owns their own units and then shares common spaces and has communal meals fairly regularly.

      As for the weird Javascript thing, I had no idea! I’ll have to figure out what’s happening there. In the meantime, I’ll switch to a theme I know has worked in the past.

      1. Well, we’re not living in a co-op anymore, and are renting a 2-bedorom now, so we’ve been trying to figure out how to replace that sense of community ourselves. One thing we’ve been doing is having friends over for dinner, and are hoping to host events as well. An idea I’ve been mulling over is to have a weekly communal dinner with people from the area. It’s not quite the same, but it might help.

        1. That’s actually an interesting idea. I’ve been getting more involved with neighbourhood organizations lately, which is helping me make new contacts and relationships. It’s not really at the friendship level yet, let alone kinship, but it’s a start.

          And we have started to develop a bit of a “shared childcare” relationship with our neighbours who have a son about the same age as our daughter. It’s early stages and not much has come of it yet, but it’s something. Having a kid across the street available to play whenever they want (once they’re both old enough to do so without constant parental supervision) will certainly help a little bit in avoiding the “lonely only” situation.

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