Most individuals and families I talk to report that family relationships are important to them. This includes their marital relationship, their relationships with their kids, and also extended family relationships (grandparents, aunts & uncles, nieces & nephews, and cousins). But like anything that is important to us, ultimately it comes down to “taking the time”. (This can be true for exercising, for friendships, for spiritual growth, etc.)
So, ( no real new ground-breaking insights here), “taking the time” seems to be rooted in two primary activities: a) planning, and b) saying “no” to other things. If we don’t plan for those things which are important to us, the urgent activities of life squeeze them out (if you haven’t ever read Stephen Covey’s First Things First, order it and read it — it is a foundational book for life.)
What other things do I see families have to say “no” to, in order to make time available for family time? Sports, mainly. Weekend tournaments for soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, cheerleading. Or watching sports on TV (I love March Madness as much as most, but I don’t have to see every game.)
We are in the midst of a four-day family-focused trip. We brought our daughter up to the KC area to fly with her brother to Nashville to meet his new fiance. My wife’s sister and her husband flew down from Chicago to KC and we spent two days hanging out together. And now we are visiting my mom, sibs and nieces & nephews and their families for a couple of days. Not major league excitement or an exotic place to visit, but it’s family.
And the real issue is this. If we don’t take the time out to visit family, those relationships dwindle and can eventually disintegrate, where we don’t know what’s going on in our siblings’ lives, or our kids don’t know their cousins. It seems in family relationships, a little occasional contact can go a long way to keep the ties in tact. But once the relationships die, it can be difficult (although not impossible) to rekindle them.
It may be good to think ahead a bit — May & June are busy family times, with graduations and weddings. And there are plenty of competing activities — summer jobs, vacations, sports activities, camps, on & on. But if “family” really is important to you, you may want to plan ahead to make some of the important life events and say “no” to some of the other activities — so what if the coach is going to be mad because J.R. misses a tournament? Is he someone who is going to be in your life in 5 or 10 years? Pick your niece’s graduation or wedding instead — it will be a far better long-term investment of time.