This is part two of my four part series entitled, “Family Matters.”
3 Building Blocks of a Healthy Family
1. Being Present:
I heard a terrible story earlier this week… I’m not sure if anyone here heard this story or not. A mother forgot her two year old daughter in the backseat of their SUV a few days ago. The daughter was in the car for over 7 hours before someone found her. The baby didn’t survive. It was a tragic, heart-rending story. My heart immediately went out to this woman and the rest of her family. I can’t even imagine the pain and anguish that this family is going through now. It must be devastating.
What is surprising though is that this story isn’t uncommon. There have been numerous examples of this in recent years. What is going wrong when people forget their kids in the car? I’m a parent, and I can’t understand where things would go that bad that you forget your kids in the backseat. When I am driving with Noah or Katie, I’m always talking to them and interacting with them. Julie’s the same… she is always trying to engage with them. Mind you… it’s not always easy to interact with a 2 year old, but we do what we can to communicate with our kids. They’re not just a package that is being delivered to day care or to the grocery store. They’re precious cargo. We wouldn’t stuff adults in the back seat and ignore them for the entire ride, would we? So why should it be different with kids?
When people start forgetting that their kids are in the car, I think that’s a sign that LIFE IS MOVING TOO FAST. If we find ourselves forgetting about what’s important in life or if we’re slipping into a state where we’re living just to work, well… it’s time to re-evaluate and re-align ourselves.
But all around us, family seems to be taking a back seat to personal gratification. As a society, we’re:
- Working longer hours;
- Too busy doing recreational activities to spend time with our kids;
It seems to come down to time management… What are we working longer hours for? Most of us would say to make more money for our families. This is a fair argument, but only to a point. How much money is enough? What about the father looking back on his life, looking at the missed opportunities to spend with his kids when they were young because he was too busy working. Does the money seem worth it at that point? You can’t do it over again. You can’t go back and spend time with your kids when they’re grown. They’re grown up by then as well. Opportunities are missed.
It is a cruel joke though… I could easily get swallowed up in work, school, working out, spending time with friends and doing a host of other activities. But instead, I’ve made a commitment to my family:
I’ve quit work… no, I’m just kidding.
But seriously, as a family, we’ve assessed what’s important in life and what’s not. We’ve put together our list of priorities. And family ranks high on that list, right around the same level as working to support our family and going to church. We fit the other stuff in where we can, but we seldom sacrifice family time to accommodate some of the lower hanging fruit. Family time is just too precious and too important to miss out on it.
And the fact that Noah recognizes when we’re “all together as a family” speaks volumes to me. Sometimes, it sounds like a question, like he wants that affirmation that this is going to happen as a family. Other times, I can tell that it’s a statement of excitement and anticipation. Either way, if a two year old can figure out his priorities, then his or her parents should be able to figure them out just the same.
Coming up next: The 2nd Building Block of a Happy Family.