Thinking About Parenting

4 Ways To Keep Your Family Together


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4 Ways To Keep Your Family Together


According to the Oxford Dictionary, a family is "a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit; a group of people related by blood or marriage".

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines family as "a group of persons of common ancestry".

The Cambridge Dictionary says it's "a group of people who are related to each other, such as a mother, a father, and their children".

Whatever the definition is chosen, I only know that my family is and always has been especially important to me. I also know that:

  • My Faith and my Family anchor me
  • No two families are exactly the same
  • Families are important
  • Families can be bent but not broken
  • The family dynamic is not always easy
  • Family is worth fighting for and keeping together
Over time I've come to know a lot of families constructed in a lot of ways. No two are ever truly built the same. I want to go on record as saying that of all the families I've encountered, mine is my favorite.

"Family is not an important thing, it's everything." 
-Michael J. Fox

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." 
-Desmond Tutu

Why Keep Your Family Together?

Families are the backbone of our country, society, and culture. Family should never be taken for granted. Keeping a family together may not be easy but it will most often be worth it. I am dictating outside the parameters of ongoing abuse or criminal acts that initiate a family dissolution. 

A cohesive family structure is important to maintain and beneficial in several ways including:

  1. Providing a sense of belonging. People raised in loving and nurturing families secure healthier and longer-lasting relationships throughout their lives. They learn to be aware of the greater good.
  2. Creating a moral compass. The world pulls in many directions. Strong families allow you to become a happy, responsible being with a powerful sense of right and wrong. It encourages you to remain true to yourself. See this previous blog.
  3. Supplying support. Strong families can render support and security while fostering an environment of unconditional love. That allows you to grow and develop without the fear of failure causing you to "get kicked off the island".
  4. Introducing role models. Some of the first notions we get about who we want to become come about as we witness what our family members do, be it our parents, siblings, grandparents, or other close family members.

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven." 
-George Bernard Shaw

"To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there." 
-Barbara Bush

Keeping a family together can be a daunting task. Your desire to stay together can be attacked in many directions, individual growth, the world at large, cultural differences, differences in faith, illnesses, new friends, peer pressure, finances and so much more.

Everything worth having is worth the effort it takes to keep it. It has been said many times that "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." That is so true. It's another truth that it always takes more effort to get something back than it does to keep it in the first place.

Don't let your family slip away. Fight early and fight often. Don't let a good thing die. There are so many things that can be done to keep a family intact. Here is my list to get you started:

4 Ways To Keep Your Family Together

1. Support

"You stay. We stay. It's how family works." 
-Nikole Knight

*Advise but don't judge
*Build on the belief that nobody "jumps ship". Be in it for the long haul
*It's okay to screw up. Family love is unconditional
*Promote honesty. Perfection is not a family requirement. Truth is.

2. Engage

"Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." 
-David Ogden Stiers

*Write notes to each other or send a text to remind them how much you care
*Contact. A hug, a kiss, a high five. Touch is powerful
*Mind your manners. "Please" and "Thank you" still carry a lot of weight
*Listen intently. After they're gone, you'll wish you could hear their voice one more time.
*Give everyone a voice. They are individuals. Celebrate that.

3. Commune

"We are just stars in our family's constellation." 
-Stephen Robert Kuta

*Cook and/or bake together
*Gather for meals as a family. Even after our kids were grown, we had an open invitation every Thursday night at 7pm at a local pizzeria. Sometimes everyone came. Sometimes a few. But they always knew where and how to pause and connect
*Play games together. Video games. Board games. Who cares? We are together

4. Create

*Memories. Work to create moments in time that each family member can take with them
*Rituals and traditions that unite your family

Rituals and traditions are two different things. 

A tradition is something that is passed down from generation to generation like opening gifts on Christmas Eve or a family recipe that everyone can enjoy a connection with.

A ritual refers to a specific way of doing things, a certain set of actions performed in a certain way or at a certain time that's unique to your family. 

Some examples of family rituals could include:

  • Sunday dinner together
  • Bedtime stories
  • Attending your house of worship
  • Praying together
  • Spring cleaning or yardwork together
  • Game night
  • Morning and evening texts

Family rituals don't have to be complicated and they come with many ongoing benefits-

  • Creating a strong family identity
  • Stress elimination through routine
  • Building family values and beliefs
  • Improved mental health
  • Better and ongoing communication
Creating a family ritual can be entertaining and rewarding as long as you follow some simple rules.
  1. Make sure the ritual is enjoyed by all those involved
  2. Make it part of a routine so everyone knows when and where
  3. All voices are heard when setting it up
  4. Don't overthink it. Keep it simple
  5. Be forgiving. If you miss one bedtime story, don't give up on the ritual
"Family is the most important thing in the world." 
-Princess Diana

Some last thoughts on family unity. 

I asked my lovely wife how it was she was able to keep the family together for 4 decades. She told me that she was willing to learn from mistakes made. One lesson learned was that we mentor and coach our children, but we cannot live their lives and nitpick every decision. Sometimes we must step back and let go when every piece of our heart wants to yell "Stop!". We teach we love, we listen, and we arrive to pick up the pieces if necessary.

Her other pearl of wisdom was a reminder that none of our children were the same. They were as unique as snowflakes, but they all were united by one common denominator. We love them unconditionally and always will.

Did I mention how lucky I am that she's put up with me for forty years? 
I certainly am!

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:" 
-Proverbs 12:4

One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love and fully display love for their mother.

Fight for your family. You and I are not perfect. We don't have to be. We just must love them enough to NEVER QUIT on them!