Kinship is defined as a network of culturally recognized relationships among individuals, either through affinal (marriage) or consanguineal (blood) ties. In other words, kinship is a sense of being related to another person or persons. Kinship is family. I'm pretty sure that most people have come to the consensus that family is important, however, we can't always rely on our families. Sometimes we don't live with them. Maybe they're in another state, or even another country. Perhaps our relationship with our family is complicated and we're not as close knit as some other families. Whatever the case, our "family," the ones that we consider to be such because of blood and law, cannot be there for us all the time. That is when the idea of fictive kin comes into play. We've been learning about this term, "fictive kin," in my anthropology class and it has been extremely interesting to me because of just how important it is. Fictive kin is defined as kinship that does not involve relations by blood or law, and encompasses all of the benefits of kinship without any genetic ties. Examples of fictive kin would be pets, significant others, close friends, or that uncle that isn't actually you're uncle because he's just your dads best friend but you still say, "Hey, Uncle!" whenever you see him. Now, I know the word "fictive" sounds a lot like "fiction" and thus we relate it to being "not real" or "fake," and that sounds negative, but that's not the case. The whole idea behind fictive kin is, yes, we are not technically related to these people, but we have created such an intense, real connection with them that it feels like we are. They are like family to us. Fictive kin is tremendously important to me for many different reasons. My friends and my boyfriend have always been the people I fall back on. If something goes wrong, they're the first ones I talk to about it. Since moving away from home, I've had to leave my family and friends, my kin and fictive kin, behind and all I can really do now is text, call, or video chat them, which is far less fulfilling than actually being with them. They aren't gone, they're just far, and that's hard. When I moved, it kind of felt like I lost that support system, and I needed to build another one. I did that with the friends I've met at college, the boyfriend who came with me, and, I suppose, the fish I bought (he can be family too). This little fictive kin that I've created here is truly making my experience easier and making me happier. We can't only think of family as one unit. Family is a bunch of different groups, some fictive and some not, but regardless, they are all equally important and necessary.
Cover Image Credit: Shannon Bay Gregory