We live in divided times. Division rears its ugly head in so many areas of our communities and our world. These divisions have driven us into more disparate and polarized “tribes.” Sadly, they have also infiltrated our families. Division has reared its ugly head in the family to divide parents from children, spouses from spouses, siblings from siblings. You’ve seen it, perhaps even experienced it, in one of these three ways.
- Families have become divided in response to busy-ness. Children rush from activity to activity. Parents work extra hours. Churches and community organizations demand time of individual family members. When at home, each person is so exhausted they hide in their own room, watch their own TV, play their own game, eat their own meal. Each family member ends up living in their own world, caught up in their own activities and agenda, separate from the family…divided.
- Families have become divided in response to the political and cultural environment. The ugly divisive nature of our world does not allow for differences of opinion or time for growth in understanding. So, families have become divided rather than supportive, polarized rather than curious about one another’s thoughts and ideas. They argue and fight rather than seek out the truth together. They become embittered, leaving no room for agreeing to disagree on matters in which there can be multiple opinions. They have shunned family members who disagree or sat on the other side of the “elephant in the room,” hiding behind unspoken resentment. In other words, divided.
- Families have become divided in the pursuit of materialism and extravagance. Materialism and extravagance demand more finances which may demand more hours away from home working to earn the money to “pursue the dream” house, perfect vacation, best car, or…. Unfortunately, family members become distant as they each pursue their own material desires. It reminds me of the scene in RV in which each family member sits in the RV wrapped up in their own music on their own headset, yelling the words to the song they hear to the neglect of everyone else…divided.
This is not the original intent of family…no is it what we want for our families. We want connection. If our children cannot learn to connect within our families, how will we learn to connect within the broader world? Connection brings a sense of security and joy to the lives of our children and our spouse. Connection teaches us to love. Connection gives us the confidence to explore and grow. Connection is perhaps our greatest desire and need. With that in mind, let me suggest six simple ways of combatting the polarizing division of today’s world and bring connection to your family.