K is for Kith and Kin

April 12, 2014 at 8:08 am | Posted in Family, Family History, History, Society, Ways of Living | 7 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

 

Kith-and-Kin

Kith: Old English cȳthth, of Germanic origin; related to couth. The original senses were ‘knowledge’, ‘one’s native land’, and ‘friends and neighbours’. The phrase kith and kin originally denoted one’s country and relatives; later one’s friends and relatives. This is the only way ‘kith’ is used nowadays.

 

NancyCATLOWfamily.1882-350

Familial relationships used to be the basis of community in past times, and still are in small village societies where people still live in smaller groups. Such communities are mostly made up of ‘kith and kin’, who depend upon each other for security and support, especially in difficult times.

Grandparents would often care for children so that parents could provide for their families. But as societies grew larger and more sophisticated, this interdependence lessened, especially with the industrialisation of western societies. People paid others to do what family normally would have done.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,, periods of huge waves of international migration, families lost that cohesiveness. They were split apart and millions never saw their children or their parents again

That was the case for my father when we migrated from England to Australia in 1954. Dad never saw his parents again. Mum only did because her parents and brother followed us out here. I have never seen any of the relatives we left behind, and most of them are now gone.

Rodney Holland Baptism Grandparents &g'chn Jan.1981

 

There has also been considerable migration in the past fifty years within countries as family members have to move to find work. My own five sons were scattered across Australia at one time. Four of them have settled closer together now, though one still lives overseas. But they all live too far away for me to see them more than two or three times a year.

Most of Thompson clan 24 June 2001

There do appear to be indications that families are again having to rely on kith and kin for support. With the high cost of childcare, and the need for both parents to work, relatives, especially grandparents, are increasingly taking on the role they traditionally had.

I just wish my sons lived close enough that I could, at least occasionally, be a minder for my grandchildren.

IMG_9251

 

How much contact do you have with your family? Are they scattered, like mine, or are they close by? Is it better to have some distance between you and them, or would you prefer they were close by?

 

© Linda Visman 12.04.2014  (360 words)

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