In a recent episode of a hit TV reality show " "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" " one of the housewives attempted to explain her family. Even though the family members might argue now and then, they are "as thick as thieves" and support each other to the outside world. If two sisters get into a tussle, they settle it between themselves, within the family. If one sister gets into a tussle with an "outsider," the rest of the family backs her up. That's just the way it is. Or, at least, the way it should be in the mind of this particular housewife.

The old saying "Blood is thicker than water" fits these housewives. Their blood relatives mean so much to them that they would never think of being disloyal or hurting any one of them. It would be unheard of in the family for someone outside the family circle to take precedence over "one of their own."

Is this a normal family trait or is it peculiar to New Jersey housewives (who happen to be Italian)? In my humble opinion and based on personal experience, it is NOT a normal family trait. Even certain animal species are more considerate of family members than we humans are.

Sometimes the biggest judges and critics of our lives have the same blood running through their bodies as we do. I suppose it's perfectly normal to disagree with a sister or brother, but until you've lived a day in their shoes, your support should be unconditional. The same goes for a son or daughter. Certainly we would appreciate it if our children obeyed our wishes and lived according to our plan, but " once they are emancipated adults " that isn't the way life works.

Isn't it funny how behavior is quite often a matter of your point of view? If three people acted in the same way, "I'd" be rational, "you" would be peculiar, and "the other guy" would be nuts. If folks from outside your family pass judgment on one of the members of your clan, they are usually responding based on very little true knowledge. You, on the other hand, know lots more about your family member's life. You can defend most of his behaviors based on history. You can support his choices based on love and concern for his welfare. And, if you can't support his choices, at least you can love him more than you dislike what he did.

Loyalty and faithfulness are synonymous. We show loyalty to those in whom we have faith. If a parent has faith in a child, if a sister has faith in a brother, if a wife has faith in a husband " all will show loyalty. Once that faith is missing, the loyalty also disappears.

When you have a severe disagreement with a family member, it fractures the whole family system. Sometimes, that fracture can never be healed. Some folks can live forever without bothering with family. In a way, I envy them. Apparently, they have made peace with something that cannot be fixed.

(IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITHY, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH798@SC.RR.COM [1] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.)