Like many families, particularly large ones, mine struggles to find balance in our everyday lives with the various demands that accompany such a large set of people. Currently I have five children living at home, a husband, and two dogs. The ages of my children at home are 19, 18, 16, 13, and 10. As you might imagine, with four teenagers we are going all different directions at all hours of the day and night. It is a struggle for us to find time to be together as a family. I have to admit that Sunday is my favorite day because it is a no-friend, no-job, and no-outside-activity (other than church) day. I enjoy simply being with my kids even if we are not doing anything specific.
During the week it’s so much harder to make that connection. One thing that we have tried to do is eat dinner together. Thankfully, we’ve worked so consistently at this that when 6:00 PM rolls around, the kids quickly shuffle into position around the table, knowing it’s dinner time. I usually lead the discussion and go around the table and ask each child what occurred in their day. At the conclusion of that discussion we then discuss any other issues, from something we saw on the news, to the comings and goings of our neighbors, or who or what is currently making us want to slap someone silly. It’s just a chance for us to connect as a family.
Third Nephi 18:22 states that “Ye shall meet together oft.” The Lord wants us to meet together oft whether it is as families, friends or ward members in order to support and lift each other. After all, we can’t help carry burdens if we don’t know what the burden is. One of the things I cherish about my membership in the church is knowing that if I move, or more likely if my children move, anywhere in the world a local LDS bishop can be found, and that an immediate community to which you belong. This was highlighted to me recently by a cousin who moved his family to Mexico for a work assignment that was expected to last for a few years. In a blog post he wrote about his gratitude in being able to find his local ward and have an instant community of support for his family while struggling to understand how to live in a new culture.
I would encourage you to ponder what you can do to help your family connect more frequently. Is there a new family in your ward you could invite to dinner or a game night? When you go to Sunday School or Relief Society/Priesthood scan the room for a person you do not know or do not know very well. Sit next to them, find out their story; after all everyone has a story. Encourage your children to do the same.