Sunday, April 10, 2016

Families Must Get Back To Basics

For the past two Saturday nights my wife Yvette and I have intentionally carved out time to go "old school" in terms of our spending time together.  Last Saturday night, we went to a movie (Miracles From Heaven) and this Saturday we stayed home and played a good old fashioned game of Scrabble. We had not played Scrabble in so long that we actually had to refresh ourselves with the rules and scoring.  While I play Words With Friends and other word games like Scrabble online, it is a different dynamic when actually playing the board game face to face with a person. The two of us had a wonderful time.

A few days ago, I started posting on my various social media sites "Spousal Tips"  that unbeknownst to the reader was not necessarily for them, but for me and should my wife happen to read them coming across her feeds. I suspect though as my Connections and Followers read the daily tips, they are being challenged as well. The tips are extremely simple and are not new. I've shared nuggets such as "laugh,"  "play," or "carve out intentional quality time together"  receiving many positive likes and comments.

Think about the last time you were in a restaurant and looked around at other visitors. Let's say for example there was a couple or a family of four. I'll bet you saw in each scenario both parties (couple) or all four people (family) doing something individually on his/her mobile device whether it be a cell phone or tablet. The latest trend in restaurants now is to even provide some type of multi-use device that can be used for game playing, advertising and ultimately paying for your meal at your table. I share the example of everyone at the table doing his/her own thing because it speaks to how we communicate or more importantly lack thereof with each other today. A couple or family who has gone out to spend time with each other sit at a restaurant table and each is in his/her own world with his/her mobile device and in the event you did not bring one, there is one awaiting you at the table provided by the restaurant.  With that being said, we wonder why we do not feel connected to each other. The photo below of the family in bed with four devices says it all.

We have lost  touch with each other and have literally become silos even when we are together as a group. We do not talk to each other anymore, in fact, it seems we are losing the skill to converse with each other. Discussion questions illicit one word responses and off we go back to our electronic devices. And we wonder why we are continuing to see the decline in our family structures. We don't talk or interact with each other as we once did. Families do not come
together at the dinner table and talk about issues or their day and even when they do come together many come to the table with earbuds in their ears plugged up to..... you guessed it.... an electronic device. When is communication, affection and family intimacy given a chance?

As a child, especially before my latter teen years, I remember my family always eating dinner together and while there was a television in the kitchen, my father always ensured that it was switched off as we ate (Petticoat Junction would usually be on). We were not allowed to watch TV while the four of us were eating dinner or Saturday morning breakfast. Mobile devices had not been invented yet, but if they were, they would not have been allowed at the table. We talked to each other. Gee fancy that?

As far as television was concerned, there were certain shows that we watched together as a family such as Good Times, The Jeffersons, All In The Family, Sanford and Son, and The Waltons (I'm dating myself, I know).  The key word was "together." My point is, there were basic activities done together that helped keep the family together. There is that old cliche or adage that says the family that prays together - stays together or a different spin on that being, the family that plays together - stays together.  Either way, it was the fact that whatever was being done, was being done together.

We've lost our sense of togetherness as families and we need to get back to that. Spending time with each other is a basic. Talking with each other is a basic. For any family member to be able to express something that is concerning him or her without a battle is a basic. Playing board games (not computer games) with each other is a basic. Saying "I Love You" is a basic. Going to the park or on a day trip together is a basic and there are so many other basics that we have done away with in 2016 that is causing  the downward spiral of our family structure. Think about it, so goes the family, so goes the rest of our society and world.  Our families MUST get back to basics. I encourage anyone who is reading this post to intentionally carve out some quality time with your loved ones. Put down the mobile devices and talk to each other. Be intentional. Something to critically think about and act upon.

I invite you to join me live each Saturday at 6 a.m. ET as I host The Reading Circle with Marc Medley on FM radio WP88.7 FM in northern NJ and as I web stream around the world on I also invite you to follow me on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01.

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