All week this week, Cuba, the United States, and the whole Catholic world will be focused on the family, and with good reason. Today, we are seeing a worldwide decline in the “family.” The days of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver are long gone and are now seen as a joke, but there’s something to be said for the golden age of the family. It used to be that families ate dinner together every night, attended church together on Sunday, and watched tv, read, and played games together on a regular, if not daily, basis. But in 2015, it’s rare that families spend one hour a week together.
Athletics, careers, social lives, social media, and a host of other things have become more important than spending time together. The vast majority of the families I know find it impossible to sit down for a meal together. The typical middle or high school child spends their afternoons at athletic practice for school, and then practice for a rec team, and then a meeting of some kind (Scouts, work, etc.), and then there’s still homework to be done! Even in elementary school, children are shuffled from one event to another with no break in between. My family is as guilty as the next of over-scheduling and overbooking. Sometimes we have to take a long, hard look at what’s on our calendar and just make the decision to scale back and refocus our attention on what matters – being a family.
The decisions aren’t always easy, and we’ve found it best to have rules that we stick to without fail. When our children were old enough to play sports for school, the rec sports were wiped off the slate. So no, none of my children are on travel teams or all-stars, or those necessary paths to college scholarships that almost all families seem to think are vital to their children’s future. Let’s face it, only one child on the team is really good enough to get that scholarship. Is it really yours? Wouldn’t it be better for them to get their homework done and get a good night’s sleep instead? The most valuable piece of advice our high school field hockey coach ever gave us was “your daughter is very good, but she’s not that good.” Instead of being upset, we were relieved. What a tremendous load that took off of her back! Much more time went into academics and less into trying to contact every college coach on the east coast, and she graduated with honors and quite a nice sum in merit scholarships.
Another hard and fast rule for us is that Sunday is for God and family. Sure, we go to a lot of Saturday evening Masses, but that just opens up our Sunday to do something fun as a family. Even if it’s just watching a football game together, the key word is together. When my middle daughter considered trying out for basketball, there was just one factor that changed her mind – Sunday practices. There has to be a place to draw the line, and that was it for us.
Throughout our world, we are witnessing a staggering drop in population. Families aren’t valued any more. In many cases, they aren’t even desired. We have become a world where people have to choose between family and career, family and a house, family and a life. Whatever happened to FAMILY LIFE? When did children become a burden rather than a gift?
As we listen to the Holy Father talk about the importance of the family, let us all consider how we can improve our family life. How can we find a way to make family meals work? What can we cut out of our children’s schedules to make them live fuller, happier, more peaceful lives? How can we reshape our culture to make others see that families and family lives matter? At the very least, begin having meals without phones at the table! These are things that all parents need to think about before it’s too late.
I will never greet my family at the door wearing an apron and holding Ken’s slippers, but I will make it my job to ensure that all of them always know the importance of being a family.
Christmas is coming. Buy books!
I had the extreme pleasure a couple weeks ago to attend the Decatur Book Festival just outside of Atlanta Georgia. It was so great to see all of the people, couples, families, friends, out buying books and supporting authors. The National Book Festival has also just taken place, and we’re not done yet! This weekend is the Baltimore Book Festival, and several Eastern Shore writers will be selling, signing, and speaking. Come see and hear us if you are in the area!
Be sure to support all of your favorite authors this Christmas. Please comment below on where you can find authors this fall and what other book festivals are taking place. Let’s encourage everyone to give the gift of reading this year!
If you’re looking for an autographed copy of any of my books to give as gifts, you will be able to find me at the following places over the next couple of months. Please check my web site for more information.
Sunday, September 27 – the Baltimore Book Festival in Baltimore, MD
Wednesday, September 30 – St. Michaels library’s author event, St. Michaels, MD
Friday, October 9-Saturday, October 10 – Wisp Resort, Fort McHenry, MD
Monday, November 9 – Meet the Author! at the Wicomico County Library, Salisbury, MD
Saturday, November 28 – the News Center, Easton, MD
I am happy to travel outside of Maryland. Just let me know when and where you’d like me to be. Happy reading!
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.