Writer’s Name: S.F. Hardy
Title: Family is the bolt that keeps this nut together
Family is the bolt that keeps this nut together! Family, extended family, and friends are essential to my growth and continued development. If it were not for the relationships I share with them, I don’t think that I would be able to function in a positive manner. Really!
The glue that holds families together and the propeller that aide in their evolution varies from family to family. However, similarities in the family foundation can be viewed in each family unit. Reading together, traveling, preparing food and eating together, family outings, spiritual enrichment, educational support and enlightenment, and discussions on current debates are just a few means to spark and seize unity in the family
Reading together is one of the simplest but most influential ways any family can develop strong ties. “I was a young poor mother so I took my children to the library for entertainment. It was free and not only did we check out books to enjoy at home, we also participated in the many programs the library offered,” a very close friend share with me when we were in library school together. The benefits reading provides are endless and the bond it creates among the family unit collectively is intangible but heartfelt. Reading bedtime stories allows for laughter and questions. Once the routine is developed the reader as well as those being read to will appreciate the quality time spent forever. I distinctively remember being at an elementary family read night where the principle spoke of her Puerto Rican parents who couldn’t read English but always picked up the local newspaper pretending to read in front of the children in a successful attempt to emphasize the importance of reading as well as spending quality time doing so.
Traveling, although not always affordable, is a great way to strengthen the family core. Whether one family visits relatives in another state or country or a family journeys uncharted territory for fun and adventure travel opens many pathways to creating family unity. Just the other day, my family and I were stuck in several airports trying to reach our destination. Instead of looking at the situation as a hindrance we accepted the delay as a time to reflect on the positive aspects. This time forced us to ponder the situation and discuss reasons beyond us that we may have been delayed, leading into the next element of increasing the family unit.
When we didn’t make our original flight for reasons unbeknownst to us, instead of getting upset and frustrated we looked at one another and said it must not be meant for us to get on that plane. We believed that God had something else in store for us. Spiritual enrichment no matter one’s religious belief is imperative to the sustenance of the family. Faith in a higher power, when believed, will rescue the family from turmoil here on earth.
The saying, “A family that prays together stays together” is real. When the family openly discusses spirituality it provides for an open medium of understanding and togetherness.
One of my favorite ways to bond with my family is experiencing various cuisines together. It opens up dialog about the food and culture that has the potential to go on for hours. As a child our family placed great emphasis on sitting down and having dinner together, in the same room, at the same table. Dinnertime as a whole was great teaching moments for my mother to her children. During this time, we were taught how to cook and properly set the table. We also learned the proper way to sit at the table as young men and women. When I moved away from home, it was imperative that I purchase a dining room table. I knew it would be the center of my family and family gatherings for years to come. But most importantly, I wanted my family to come together at the end of our day and discuss what went on in our respective lives so that we can provide one another with insight and perpetuate our family bond.
Time spent together at the dining room table often leads to discussion and debates about current events taking place locally and abroad. These discussions are important because they provide a glimpse at what family members think and how they perceive issues that affect the community and the world. It also provides a means of deciphering how the family can be change agents and leaders of their respective communities.
Prescribed family outings to museums, festivals, parks, and recreation centers bring the family closer together as they interact and discuss the things they witness and experience at the aforementioned places. Not only does the family spend time together at the outings but they create memories that will be reminisced on for years following.
Last but certainly not least, educational support is one of the most important factors in developing and sustaining a family unity. From the time parents attend parent teacher conferences and parent teacher associations, to attending college graduations, the family bond is nurtured and can only flourish. Education has always been viewed as the ultimate avenue to success in the African-American community. Without education, we are deemed to fail. When the family comes together in support of educational goals and achievement the family bond is created serendipitously, amplifying the family unit where it cannot be removed or destroyed.