It’s difficult for me to fully express the important role friends and family members play in our lives. As we get older and start families for ourselves, we begin to place greater value on the companionship, support, and love that they offer. However, there seems to be a harsh paradox that as we long for these relationships more there are increasing demands on our time. Staying in touch is harder than ever, and it does take effort. But I can honestly say that I generally feel most fulfilled, content, and happy after spending time with others.
Even if you are not an extrovert or if you live thousands of miles away from your hometown, I believe it is essential to not just maintain our connections but to continue to nourish them as they grow. You often hear people asking, “What’s wrong with society these days?”. In my opinion, a lot of it has to do with our self-inflicted isolation. Despite having hundreds of friends through social media and participating in every activity possible, we often don’t take the time to develop deep and meaningful relationships; and we neglect those that once flourished. We used to learn how to care for our children from our parents and grandparents, now we turn to the Self-Help aisles of the bookstore. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful and beneficial books out there, and I’m not discounting their importance. However personally, nothing I have found compares to actually spending time with those that have already navigated similar circumstances and are willing to offer their guidance.
I am very blessed to have a wonderful family, but I know unfortunately that is not the reality for everyone. I can guarantee you though, that there are people who would love to be a part of your life and help fill those roles. Whether you are talking about marriage, relating to your kids, getting along with co-workers, dating, or staying in contact with your great-aunt, communication is the foundation for creating new friendships and cultivating the old ones.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the time it takes to do this? It is something that needs to be made a priority, so you may need to rearrange your schedule a little. Most of us are pretty much at our capacity though, and even the thought of squeezing in one more phone conversation after work is daunting and possibly annoying. Weeks turn to months, and it doesn’t take long before we realize we haven’t spoken to Grandpa since the last major holiday. I try to justify it, we all know everyone is busy and there really might not be that much to say; but when I think about the wisdom and connections that I am missing it makes me determined to do something about it. I believe everyone has a story to tell and we can all learn from each other.
With the newest member of our family due to arrive in less than a month my husband (being the awesome and tech-savvy man that he is) wanted to go ahead and set up an email address for our soon-to-be-baby. Why on earth would a baby need email? My husband is always thinking one step ahead and for practical reasons he wanted to get one saved using her name before they were all taken. The other reason he explained, which melted my heart, was for her family members to be able to use it to send her special notes, messages, even pictures so when she grows up she will have access to all of this digitally.
I am sending her a few messages, mainly about how things are going with the pregnancy, noting the major milestones and such. We notified our parents to open it up to them, and they also had some great suggestions for getting people involved and gathering a little family history along the way. Even if we cannot see our friends and family as much as we would like, or even have adequate time to talk to them on the phone, we want to do everything we can to have them be as much a part of our children’s lives as possible.
So, starting soon I will be emailing out conversation-starter type questions for family members to respond to. We have all decided it will be the easiest way to encourage people to share their thoughts, memories, advice, and funny stories. I’ll probably send 1 or 2 new questions a week. Since this is something that can be done with anyone, I am also going to share these questions with readers to use with their own families and friends. I will post the questions on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. They will also be complied on a new page, soon to come to this site. That way you can leisurely go back to see the list or access it at anytime you are looking for some great topics of conversation.
If you would like to respond to the questions yourself, go right ahead. I’d love to hear your story. You can always reply on the social media posts, comment on the site once the new page is active, or feel free to send me an email. I look forward to this being a fun and easy way to open back up those lines of communication and start sharing our stories with one another.