The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people – no mere father and mother – as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born. -Pearl Buck
My children are fortunate because our extended family has always been there for our kids. They’ve been present for the important and ordinary events. Every aunt, uncle, grandparent, and cousin has added something as simple as a silly tradition or as significant as a contribution to their moral compass.
We have some good genes resulting in a great age span, so it isn’t uncommon to have four generations at a family function. Their young at heart attitude has countered any potential age discrimination. The ‘elders’ are full of fun and interesting stories.
We all have a need to belong to a group. A family is the first and most important experience in being a part of a caring group. When children don’t find a sense of belonging with family, they will find it somewhere else. That is when gangs and the wrong influences have an appeal.
If you don’t live in close proximity to family, don’t forget that you still have ties, and must stay connected. But really connecting with a child is done by building a relationship, which can cost as little as the price of a stamp. Children love getting mail – why not? They never get bills! Wouldn’t you love it? By mail, I don’t just mean cards for their birthday or holidays. Send jokes, stories, riddles, or funny comics that you come across. My nephews love baseball, so I sent the classic Abbott & Costello “Who’s on First” sketch. We forget how funny and creative the classics are. Children are hearing them for the first time, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
July is Family Reunion Month and Temple University has a great website to help you organize every step of your family reunion. Don’t let your children miss out on building important relationships and memories.
When the family does get together, it is important that children participate and get to know their family members. Too often you will see children playing hand-held computer games, listening to iPods or on their cell phones with their friends, rather than participating. Don’t let them miss it – it is too valuable an experience.
Did you know that African American families account for half of all family reunions held in the United States? About 70% of summer non-business travel by African Americans is reunion related.