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Saturday
Apr272019

Family thoughts

 



Our family likes to joke that we love each other - in small doses. For better or worse, we are widely enough dispersed that small doses are usually all we get to see of each other over the course of a year. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder?

After a lovely long Easter weekend with my mom, sister, daughter, son, in-laws, and grandsons, I've been thinking a lot about family, especially after seeing the graph above from the Pew Center. I often wonder if those weakened family ties the study reports may not be a why so many in this country seem unhappy, radicalized, and dissatisfied with politics, with religion, with work, and with life in general. When we care about our families, we care about more than ourselves. 

Just as I have to remind myself of "white privilege," I also have to remind myself of "family privilege" having grown up in a stable and financially secure (not rich) home. Our family is blessed with overall good health - both physical and emotional. We don't have any real nut jobs to contend with at family get-togethers. No prison visits. No alcoholics or drug addicts. If we have strong political or social views, we don't tend to argue about them on Facebook. I believe our priorities of caring for each other supersede our care about "issues." 

My family, like most, is not a static entity. Births and deaths, marriages and divorces have changed the composition of those in the family calendar over the years. Yet somehow, anyone who has ever been someone  I've considered a family member will always remain one to me. My daughter and I once made a pledge that there would always be room in each other's homes (basement was specified) no matter what life threw at us. In my heart I know that any member of my family - present or past - could find shelter with me if need arose. I cannot envision an act so terrible that it would cause me to disown one my children or grandchildren. I am guessing even Ted Bundy had a grandparent who still loved him.

I recently heard a speaker carefully explain how a child's educational success was determined prior to entering kindergarten. Children who had been read to, spoken to, and played with came to school with better cognitive development. (Seems obvious.) The importance of a stable, caring family was the key to being a good reader which was key to doing well in school which in turn helped lead to a successful career. I could have been a better parent. Were there do-overs in real life, I would have spent more time, provided better homes, tried to have been more reassuring. I've often asked myself if my children have done well because of or in spite of their parents.
Last evening I volunteered to help at an event sponsored by my Rotary club at a local shelter for women and families in need. There were few in attendance in this clean, secure, and comfortable place - happy, oblivious kids and quiet, distraught mothers. I don't know the answer to solving societal problems, but my guess is that it must start with building better families. 

 

The family, Easter 2019

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Reader Comments (2)

I think this might be the best post you have ever done - I am in 100% agreement of the importance of family. My two daughters still live at home finishing college, and I hope when they move out it will be just down the street. Most of my family lives in California but the are still and will always be close.

Thank you for the post - it is good to know that regardless of our differences we can still agree on the importance of family.

April 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

Too bad we have to be older before we come to realize just how important some things in life really are!

We have differences?

Thanks for the reply,

Doug

April 30, 2019 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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