Reconnecting with Family and Community During Summertime
In my recent interview on “Around Town with Scott Rogers,” I spoke on this topic, but our interview was cut fairly short. Here is a fuller picture of my thoughts and suggestions on this timely and important issue:
What has contributed to our society’s disconnection? High mobility. Families no longer live in one central community for generation after generation. Extended families, even “nuclear” families, are more scattered and mobile than ever. Families are also busier than ever. Between each family member’s schedule, there is often barely time to sit down or go for a walk, just to find out how the other’s activities are going. It’s a tiring and disconnecting trap, and a trend that seems to be growing. Similarly, the average work week has grown significantly over the last few decades, despite early speculation that increasing technology would actually shrink the work week! Another big factor is the massive amount of time Americans spend involved with entertainment media. The numbers are staggering. In general, plugging into the screen means unplugging from the people around you. All of these factors seem to be connected to a shift in our culture away from service and community life toward more affluence and personal enjoyment.
How do we reconnect? Get out of our entertainment rooms and fenced-in backyards, and get involved in others’ lives. Get involved in our church community. Invest in children. Not just your own, but others as well. Countless young people today are desperately in need of someone to mentor, love, and encourage them. For more, read Dr. Chap Clark’s excellent book, “Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Adolescent.”
What can families do at home? The family that prays together and plays together…stays together! Read together, especially spiritually beneficial books that build strong character. Have a regular family reading night. Pray together frequently – include children in this central family time. Play games together. This can promote good problem solving skills, encourage healthy cooperation, and fosters opportunities for positive physical touch.
What can families do together in the community? In the most recent issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, there is an excellent article entitled “60 Ideas for Family Summer Day Trips.” If you are looking for some great ideas to get the family out of the house this summer and have some fun, even educational and cultural experiences, you really need to download this article!
How can families reconnect with neighbors/community? Take a trip to New Orleans to see the impact and recovery process post-Katrina. Volunteer with a service organization, like your local church or Habitat for Humanity. Check with folks in your own neighborhood for those who are in need. You may be able to help someone right down the street, building a stronger family and community at the same time. Host a neighborhood crawfish boil or BBQ. The once popular “block party” is not so common anymore, as we drift further and further from one another. Be a part of the reconnection process. And finally, pass it on. Send a link to your friends and family, or just challenge them to be a part of this family and community rebuilding effort along with you. Together, we can build strong, vibrant families and communities!