It is sad to think that we often realize things when it is too late to truly do something about it. I am grateful to understand the importance of that and have made it a priority to appreciate what I have. What I have is a wonderful family, and I try to enjoy being with my family as much as possible. The challenge for most of us seems to be finding the time to do so.
Well the truth is we can always make the time. Sure life has gotten complicated and demanding, but as we get older, we long for the days when life seemed more simple. A time where money wasn't important, but spending time together making memories was. Reminiscing the good old days is something we do often; with smiles I might add. We even acknowledge the tough times and appreciate how it made us stronger and wiser.
There was a time when families always had dinner together, and I am not just talking about Sundays. Every night. Everyone stopped what they were doing and sat down together and discussed the day's events and whatnot. My father didn't usually allow the televison to be on during dinner and it was a great thing. The conversations were a mishmash of adult issues like work and bills, to teen and childish topics like what happened at school, cartoons, sports, etc. My father was adamant about this and for that, I am grateful.
Today it seems that everyone is multitasking and cannot disconnect from their own little worlds. The family structure is not evolving, it is deteriorating and we are allowing it to happen. Time with family has taken a back seat to social priorities as well as individual ones, and yet when an obstacle arises from these mentioned priorities, it is the family support network that can help, but many do not acknowledge this.
We can blame technology, shifting sociological beliefs; even the financial burden forcing both parents to work, but the truth is that even though life has arguably become more demanding, we have created that pressure from our choices. But that should not affect the family structure.
When I was young, I was not aware of the pressures my parents had to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and clothes on our back. My parents didn't bring their stresses to us. They were dealing with these demands because they chose to have a family and no one said it was easy. Their reward was spending time with us at the end of the day. I guess maybe deep down, my siblings and I understood what my parents had to do each day just to ensure we were provided with the basic necessities. There were nights that my mother let my brother and I stay up until 10pm, just so that we could see my dad when he came home. Believe me, we looked forward to seeing him because he worked...... ALOT.
It is those memories that helped me realize early on at how important family is and how as parents, all we want is to spend time withour family and do and say all the things we want to when we can. I hope to share childhood memories on this blog in the near future, but in the meantime, here are a few things that people can do at home to strengthen family ties and hopefully influence the next generation to keep family a priority.
- Designate at least 2 nights a week to having dinner together. No TV, no cell phones, no nothing except, food, family and conversation. We used to play the game telephone after dinner, and even though some of us thought that we were too old for the game, we all ended up laughing by the end. Between my fathers whispers that were actually breathy exclamations that tickled our ears, to the zany messages that came to be. (I have to admit, telephone still finds its way to the dinner table and it always brings smiles)
- Family game night: I'm not talking video games. We're talking board games and the such, although the "Just Dance" video games are pretty entertaining with the whole family. A recent game that our families are enjoying is Head Bands. Check it out. The best part of these family gatherings is that others are always welcome. My brother always has his teenage daughter's friends over enjoying the family activities and that is such a bonus knowing that your are positively influencing others. The games change, but the great memories just keep piling up.
- Family excusions. Going to the museum, or the beach, or anywhere as a family. I can remember so many times that I was mad that we had to go somewhere but by the time we all arrived, it would just turn into a good time.
- Supporting individual events. When a sibling has a recital, or a sporting event, having the whole family attend is such a motivational boost. There are times when my nieces or nephews had a game and a good number of us went. When you have at least 10-15 family members cheering you on, it does something positive, as well as draw strange looks from others because we are being so rowdy.
- Express yourself. Saying "I Love You", always seemed difficult growing up. Well, sometimes it takes a few scary events to shake us out of the misconception of being "tough" by holding your feelings in. Hearing my father say "I love you" does more good for my family than we probably realize. Saying it back feels just as good. There will be a time when our parents are no longer around and when it comes to them, I want no regrets.
So please know that it doesn't matter what your beliefs are, it doesn't matter how hectic your life is. Make time for the people you care about. It is probably the best investment you can make.