Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Family Ties- unbroken

A friend of mine recently told me about a fight he had had with a family member. Tempers flared, angry words were exchanged and the relationship was definitely damaged, though hopefully not beyond repair. As my friend and I discussed the unfortunate events surrounding the argument, it came up that prior to the fight the relationship was not very solid anyway. In fact, though they are siblings, my friend told me there was never much of a relationship between them at all.
I was very saddened by the whole situation, and as much by the lack of relationship prior to the fight, as after it. I was saddened , not only for my friend, but for his family, and for all families who experience similar situations. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, is it any wonder that families are not stronger and more connected these days? After all, this world we live in, with so little face-to-face communication, has left us all feeling a little disconnected, hasn't it? Studies have been done to show that although we have practically unlimited resources for communication, and the time and opportunity to reach anyone, anytime, relationships are suffering from the technological advances that claim to connect us better. People try so desperately to connect with others and yet suffer from loneliness and isolation. Families, which used to be the center of people's lives, are now scattered and distant even when they live in the same house!
This is not a brand new problem, as my friend's situation illustrated. Families have been breaking down for years and years. I grew up in what I considered to be a relatively close family. We had dinner together fairly often. We took family vacations. We went to Mass weekly (at least until my siblings and I became teenagers and my mom decided it wasn't worth the effort to fight with us about it). Sometimes my siblings and I would even choose to hang out together...sometimes. But in our day to day life we were all going in different directions. We all had our own friends, our own after school activities, our own interests. We led very separate lives. Though many years have passed since we all lived in the same house, things are pretty much the same. We talk occasionally. We get together when we can. But our lives, and our values, are very different and very separate. This, too, makes me sad. I would love to be closer to my family of origin. Though, in many ways I still consider us a close family, I wish I had stronger connections with my siblings.
I hope and pray my children never have similar regrets. Tim and I try very hard to raise our own children with strong family ties and strong family values. We do this, first and foremost, by trying to keep God at the center of our family. The children and I pray together to start our school day. We all pray as a family before dinner, and then again after dinner when we offer up our family rosary. We pray together before bed each evening. Furthermore, we attempt to spend time together as much as we can. We make sure none of us is too over scheduled. We share dinners together every night. We always go to Mass together, no matter what! And, thankfully, we have the blessing of home schooling. Our children are with their siblings everyday. They play together, they learn together, they work together. In fact, they spend practically every waking moment together- and actually because they share rooms, they spend their sleeping moments together too! They are truly each other's best friends. I pray the connections they have now will endure throughout their lives. I pray they will always turn to each other for friendship, love, and support.
Though I know we are not doing everything perfectly, I feel confident that, with God at the center, our family will remain strong and connected. I am reassured every night during our family prayers, when we hear the children say, "Thank you God that we got to play with each other today." What could be better than that?

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