People ask me all the time what has helped to make my family so close. As a member of a family that has been deeply involved in ministry and busy with ministry for a very long time, I know that ministry, while wonderful, can also pull at the very fibers that hold families together.
Extracurricular activities pull.
Regardless of the kind of family you come from or the family dynamics you currently have. Life pulls. And we all have to work very hard to stay connected to the ones we love.
As I reflect on what my parents did well that I seek to emulate in my own family. I think a lot about media and how my parents managed to control not only the influence of media but the time in which we spent engaged with it.
Thirty minutes a week. That’s all the T.V. we got on school nights. We have watched every episode of The Cosby Show and probably rewatched them all at least once. Thursday nights at 7 o’clock was our night to watch T.V. What did we do the rest of the those week nights? We finished homework, helped with dinner, and completed chores.
And we talked.
Dinnertime was talk time. My mom had a home cooked meal ready every night and we lingered over it in conversation.
I can’t tell you how many memories I have of being doubled over an empty plate laughing hard at some corny joke or playing “who-stole-the-cookie-from-the-cookie-jar” for the umpteenth time.
We engaged with one another.
Homegrown talent shows were the order of the evening. Long games of monopoly took forever and my dad was a barracuda. Uno was the game that all ages could join in and have an equal chance of winning.
From tot to teenager, each person had many opportunities throughout the evening to share their lives. I knew about the happenings of my brother’s kindergarten class. He got to hear my reasons for wanting to run for sophomore class secretary.
My parents gave us thirty minutes a week to engage with a portal that delivered the message of someone else’s home. The rest of the week, we engaged with the message of our own abode.
My parents weren’t completely villains when it came to keep the T.V. off.
On occasion we got the treat of catching an episode of Little House on the Prairie before dinner time too…
My parents weren’t afraid to be the “not-cool” parents who tortured their children with limitations on television, secular radio, and hours to talk on the phone.
My parents weren’t afraid to ensure that we connected.
I am constantly fighting the battle of making room in my house for connection. It is no easy task with the internet, laptops, cell phones, video games, and yes… the T.V. I don’t purport to have it all figured out. The elusive goal of balancing the joys of present day media and the pains of kids that are overly “wired” is a goal that I cannot say that I’ve met.
But I was given a standard.
A standard that made space for the people sharing four walls to look each other in the eye and know each other.
A standard that made time with family a higher priority than hours of phone calls to teenage friends. A standard that gave us time to talk, play, and engage with one another. A standard that made sure we connected.
It’s not easy work being the parent. It’s not easy to be the villain as sometimes our kids might like to define us. But we have to have the courage to do the best we can to make room in our lives to communicate with our kids and connect with one another before we connect virtually with everyone else.
We must do what it takes to create a “pull” that continually pulls us toward one another in a world that seeks to tear the fibers that join us together.
And if you didn’t have a standard, that’s OK. You can still find success at cultivating connection in your home. Start with intentional time to turn off any one of those many devices, sit down, and look your spouse or children in the eye.
I can testify that it is worth the effort to cultivate connection with the ones we love.
Chrystal Hurst, ChrystalEvansHurst.com