The Family Unit
One hundred years ago our world began to change dramatically. World War 1 had just begun and it wouldn’t be long before women would be entering the workforce and in roughly twenty years World War II would begin. The advent of technology, factories and industry changed not only our economy but also our families and what they meant to us.
One hundred and fifty years ago, families were closely knit. They depended on each other for survival and worked together on the farm or in the family business. Grandparents lived at home with the children and grandchildren and took care of each other. Everyone had their duties. Families had the daily opportunity to really get to know each other. To be a part of each other’s daily lives and know what drove each of them. That in turn caused a closeness, a bond that couldn’t be broken. Hence the saying; “Blood is thicker than water.”
The Family Division
This is not the case anymore. Now, we as adults work different jobs, only seeing our family for a few hours in the evening and perhaps one or two in the morning. We hire baby sitters so that we can work away from our children and we get to see our family on the weekends and subsequently try to cram as much as is possible into those precious few hours that we do have. With the advent of all the entertainments (TV, Wii, iPads, etc.), many of us also spend less quality time talking. A family could sit in a living room for hours without saying a word to each other, without really getting to know each other.
We further this division as children grow. The children come of age, move away and go to college and likely settle in the town where they went to college, often far away from their parents. Parents grow older and their parents who also live far away because they (as children) moved off to go to school and started a family now depend on nurses and care givers. No longer do we take care of our parents. It is now accepted to allow a stranger to come into our house to spend time with our children and affect them educationally, psychologically, and emotionally while we (the society) work.
So what do we do to repair this? It my opinion that following a few of these guidelines would help tremendously:
- Start off by eliminating electronics all together for a week. Then limit them to 30-45 min per day.
- Have weekly family meetings, each of you can have a coffee, a hot chocolate, a drink and just discuss the things that happened to you this week.
- Plan a monthly family night out. Maybe it’s a dinner, maybe it’s a movie , maybe it’s just a walk in the woods.
- When shopping for colleges, weigh heavily on what’s more important… That education and diploma that 20 years from now won’t really make a difference, or the family that 20 years from now might not be around. If at all possible, stay close while going to college.
- Email, text and phone regularly (at least once a day) to your family members.
If you have more suggestions, I’d love to hear them below.
There is one very simple solution/addition to your list. “Eat dinner together every night”.
Mayor Manino figured out how to do this, it can’t be that difficult for most people with less demanding jobs.
Yes, times have changed. Usually both mom and dad need to work unless willing to settle for much less, no house, one car, etc. A trade off for sure. Women should be supported to work or have careers if wanted. We encourage independence in this country, thus for several reasons children end up elsewhere. Follow the jobs. I rarely see my son, his job in AZ, we are in NYC area. No going back. Miss him greatly but never would have asked him to stay.
I love the no electronics for a week but try a month to get it to be a habit and then only slowly and thoughtfully adding things in. You’d be surprised how creative everyone gets. I’d also say have weekly Friday family nights – play board games, possibly a movie and yes always, always have family dinner every night if possible but at least strive for that. Agree with Connie above that I’d never ask my kids to stay but mine left and have all come back into the area realizing that family was important. They had their adventures which I’m glad about.