Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson ~

Run Family Run

April 8th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 18 secs

Kicking back with family is an important activity.

How fast can your family go? It seems these days the pace of daily life is getting so quick we are starting to miss out on the basics.

What do I mean by basics? From a family point of view it’s:

  • Time to listen to each other
  • Being especially patient with the elderly and the very young
  • Feeling that you belong simply by being together, and
  • Remembering how good it feels to be in love.

Anecdotally, mothers are usually the linchpin and chief organizer in modern families. Schoolwork, after-school activities, family gatherings, and other social events land on their lap. That’s why it’s an uphill battle for women handling family commitments, paid work, domestic chores, and all the rest of the dog and pony show, to feel in control.

From what I can tell, fathers are becoming better domestic assistants (well, it’s true at least in our household). After all, with so many demands on family time, it’s all hands on deck just to get by. But all of that means kids are having a different experience of family life than most of us would have known; a life with less time to enjoy the society of family.

While this kind of runaround lifestyle makes family life look vital and dynamic, it comes at a price called parental exhaustion.

Yet, despite family life in the fast lane requiring such serious parental commitment I’m not sure most kids appreciate the sacrifice. You know how it goes: when it comes too easily we naturally have a tendency to take it for granted.

But there’s also another side to the hothousing phenomenon. Families who run to a timetable with after school pickups, rosters, and tight timeframes typically aren’t that good at stillness. When the music stops everyone races for the chairs, and then what? If action and achievement are all that we celebrate in relationship, you can expect a whole bolus of conversation, feelings, and frustration to sit unresolved below the surface. And, as soon as things come unstuck, you can predict a major blow up.

There are other permutations, of course, Like the family who sits watching TV night after night, living on fast food and watching a fast paced life fly by. They are another example of living with distraction. Only, in this situation, it’s a passive chase. Talk is dumbed down by canned laughter, gunfire, and commercials, so nobody lives so much in the moment as in the confines of escape land. Everything happens there. But not here.

That’s why I prescribe tranquility. If it’s unfamiliar it will be awkward at first. Then, gradually, as interaction happens, families grow to like it. Kids and even teens appreciate attention (so long as it’s on their terms) and there’s definitely something refreshing about people making time to hang out with you.

Changing pace won’t be easy because habit force creates resistance. But, gradually making room for unstructured, non-tech time together can work wonders on a family dynamic that’s stuck in a running rut or bent on escape. We only need to notice the necessity. Then, we can work out what works best for our own family to make it happen. Remember, it’s all about getting the ball rolling… slowly.

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