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Monday, March 26, 2012

Ways to Keep the Family Connected - Part 2

Continued thoughts from THIS POST last week.

Here are more ways to keep the family connected, although because the points were from Dr. Gilmore's sermon and the thoughts following are from me (because I couldn't write his thoughts down fast enough!), some seem to overlap.  I'm sure his thoughts were more defined.

Because the importance of family time has already been mentioned in the previous points, I'll focus on the word "commit" in this point.  If the parents don't believe that family time spent together is important, the children are going to grow up believing it's not important.  When every family member is committed to making time for one another and to the special relationships that are formed, "commitment" is achieved.

This commitment to each other is the glue that holds the family together.  The best commitment of family together time you can have is to worship God together, to sing praises to God and Jesus together, to pray together, to serve God together.  Keep God the center of family time!!

We're all committed to something.  Some are committed to sports.  Some are committed to jobs.  Some are committed to their cell phones or their TV shows.  Christian families need to be committed to God/ each other, and to helping and serving others.  That will make the family committed to each other in a way that Satan will have a tough time trying to break!

I would add to this and say to control cell phone use/texting, computer surfing, and Facebook/Twitter, etc., movies ....anything that takes away from your family time.  It's a struggle, I know.  Last year our 4th - 8th grade students all received a laptop at school because of a grant our school had received.  Our oldest two children already had a laptop, my husband had one, and I had a regular desktop computer.  One evening I walked into the living room....early in the school year....and ALL FIVE of my family members were on their computers (and most likely I had been on mine in another room during that time) and all sitting in the living room with the TV on! It really made me sad.  Just the thought that this wonderful grant had changed our family so much, to where everyone sat - focused on the screen right in front of them - but all sitting in the same room.  That night we made a concentrated effort from then on to limit the use of the computers at home even more.  Our kids were (and still are) already limited on being online and don't have any video games or play them much at all online, but during that first part with the school computers their teachers had them doing lots of projects with them at home.  We were thankful when the newness wore off of the grant computers, and they didn't have to be on them much any more.

The biggest problem with all of the electronics and electronic media/social media, is that it is cutting down on face to face time within families.  Children would rather text their parents/friends/etc. sometimes more than talk to them face to face.  If we're watching TV, movies, etc., it limits communication in the family.  We need to use the time our children are in our homes and under our supervision to TALK to them.  When we're TALKING, and they are LOOKING and LISTENING, they are LEARNING.  That's our job - to teach!

Dr. Gilmore was having to talk fast and quick during this time, so I for sure know he didn't say too much about this point, but I thought about a lesson I heard years ago from Carl Breechen and Paul Faulkner.  (I think it was a taped series they would do about the family.)  Faulkner said that there was nothing better for a family than to take a family camping trip together.  He went on to tell funny stories about his family going on trips.  Basically the idea was that in "roughing it" together, the family grew closer.  Some families would prefer a "less rough"vacation and stay in a hotel!

Financially, your family may not be able to go on a big vacation ever.  Gas is high.  Tickets are high.  Everything seems high!  It costs a lot to do much of anything.  But, you don't have to spend a lot of money to do some things - if you are creative in your planning.  For example, go to a free museum or a landmark that is nearby.  Take a picnic to a park or lake.  We live in a very rural, not over-populated area of the world.  There are plenty of "free" places to go exploring all around us, so I'm sure there are where you are, as well.

We've never had (or wanted) a vehicle with a DVD player because we wanted car time to be spent talking to each other.  When the kids were little we sang a lot in the car.  Worship CD's and Disney music were our favorites!  It was always neat at our monthly singing nights because our youngest son would lead so many different songs at such a young age.....and he knew all of the words! It was because we sang them in the car all of the time.  He still knows a lot of songs by heart.  Sunday night when the song leader announced the song number that youngest (now 9) said, "Why does anyone need a song book for that song?"  He'd known it since he was two!  Good memories!

Of all of the parenting talks, books, lessons, etc., I've heard or read in my 17 years of being a parent, this is the one point that I always remember being in the list.  Why?  Why is family meal time together important?  Well, think back to old television shows like Leave It To Beaver and others like that.  When did they show the family gathered together for the most part?  At the dinner table. (or breakfast/lunch).  The family dinner table was the core of family conversations.  It was where the parents and children talked about their day and their dreams about the future.  Sadly, the family dinner table has become the car fast-food-drive-through or everyone eating by themselves, in the living room, in chairs, on the floor, etc., with the TV on, laptop on, cell phones in use kind of lifestyle.  It's not good.

This point, in my opinion, goes along with point #5.  Every one in the family must be committed to the importance of family meal time for it to be a success....or at least the parents in the family must both be committed to its importance.  Of all of the points, this one is the biggest struggle for our family because of school activities and our own activities/schedules, as parents. However, when we do eat all six together, it is at the table and if it's fewer than six there at the time, we're still at the table.....with an occasional picnic in the living room floor. :)

This is one of those points that it's a lot easier to say than it is to do, isn't it??!  I commented just last week to our oldest (and only daughter) that I wished I could start all over again with having babies and raising them because it goes by so fast, BUT I would like to have the knowledge I do now in the going back.  It just doesn't work that way, unfortunately!

When our first three children were little, they were each 22 months apart.  It was fun, but crazy and busy, and most of the time I felt like I was in a whirlwind.  Now we're busy having fun watching them be involved in activities and in our own activities, and it still feels like a crazy whirlwind, but a fun whirlwind, at the same time!  I suppose that's going to continue, BUT in that craziness and business, we can find a time and place to slow down just for a little while from time to time.  Those times give us a chance to catch our breaths before gearing up for the next "season" of fast-paced life......until the next little break.  Mostly we just have to remember to "Keep Calm and Carry On" keep the stress of life at a minimum and just enjoy loving each other and being with each other while we can.

As Christians, if we allow ourselves to become too busy, we might be tempted to neglect God.  We might begin missing worship with our church family because we don't feel like we have time to go.  We might say no to opportunities to serve others in need or to help with programs of outreach because we feel like we can't fit it into our schedules.  It's a sad situation when we allow "things" to take the place of serving our God!

So, there they are.....10 ways to keep your family connected and committed to God and each other.  I hope you've enjoyed the thoughts!

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

Yes, those are all good! I remember the camping one too and thinking how we really missed the boat on that one since we use my hubs Marriott points all the time!

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