I LOVE my family!! And I know not everyone can say that. But for many, I suspect, you have decent relationships with your parents, siblings, adult children, but the busyness of their lives and yours makes it hard to connect consistently. I want to share some ideas of what we have done in our family to keep our relationships strong. I would love to hear your stories in the comments.
This has to be at the core, bottom line, back bone of making this work. If you wait for someone else to plan a time or try to work it into the nooks and crannies of your lives, it simply won’t happen. We started a family Facebook page to help us plan and update everyone easily. Time with family has to be a priority and where you choose to invest your energy.
If you had told me growing up that I would some day consider my sisters and mom my best friends, I would have thought you were nuts! As the oldest, I had many of the first-born traits including being bossy, wanting things orderly, and finding interruptions annoying. There were many good times but somehow those are not what stick in our minds as much, are they?
As a teen, I mostly remember being irritated with my sister, 3 years younger, for the mess she made in our shared bedroom. Yes, I did the iconic line down the middle of the room that “she had better not cross!” Then there’s my sister that is 13 years younger and has the gift of communication. Well, let’s just say, that gift was not received well by me and I just wanted her to “stop talking!” There are many memories with my sisters that I’m not too proud of, but grateful for their forgiveness as we’ve gone on to build beautiful relationships as adults. And our mom is our rock, a true prayer warrior for us and our loved ones.
We knew we had something special when we heard from hospital staff as we were there often while my dad was being treated for brain cancer and slowly dying, that they had not seen many families like ours. Families who were all on the same team, caring, helping, praying for each other.
How did this transition take place? Mostly maturity, but over the years, it has been a recognition and acceptance of each of our strengths and a knowing that there is a deep thread through our lives that connects us to each other. We have both our family and deep-rooted spiritual bond to unite us.
Originally, we did not have a plan and were not super intentional. We each had our own families, careers, and busyness of life. And although we only lived less than a mile from each other, we didn’t cross paths for much quality time beyond holidays and family events. That began to change about 15 years ago. The year I turned 40, my mom, 60, and my daughter, 16, all within four days of each other. We knew we couldn’t let a milestone year like that pass us by! So we planned a trip with the three of us and my two sisters, flying from Arizona to spend a long weekend shopping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. We shopped a floor a day, had so much fun, and built such great memories that we knew this was something we had to keep going.
So began our annual “Girl’s Trip.” Usually in the Fall we take a long weekend to go someplace cooler (by September we are so over the desert temps!) These trips have become life savers to us in so many ways. We mostly just stay in, eat, play games, eat some more, talk, have coffee time, pray and share from our Quiet Times, and laugh … oh, the laughter! Now as time allows, our daughters and daughter-in-laws are joining us as well!
From these annual trips have evolved monthly-ish coffee get togethers for a few hours to catch up on each other’s lives and stay connected. It will usually take us 30-45 minutes each to share the latest in our lives and our families, and we draw strength from each other during hard times and celebrate with each other during the good ones.
One thing I appreciate so much is how we have learned to resolve conflict as adults. We do still occasionally get on each other’s nerves, or one of us will be way off in our thinking on something. Because we know we have an unconditional love for each other, we trust each other enough to be open and listen to the other’s concerns. While we have ugly cried more than once, we are all grateful to have the open, honest communication with each other.
Intentional with the Adult Children
A few years ago, as our own adult children began going out on their own, we instituted an annual Christmas baking day with all the cousins. This has become a special time. Each of the kids picks a favorite recipe and are teamed up with one of the more experienced bakers to make the goodies. When we’re done, the kids all take home the samples of each other’s treats to have in their own homes. We have created some crazy, fun memories from these times as we laugh over the almost ½ cup vs. ½ t. of salt, dropped eggs, flour all over…everyone! We look forward to this continuing and evolving in the years to come.
For the last number of years, most of our holidays have been spent all together, but as the families are growing, extended relatives joining, and space seeming to get smaller, we have made some recent adjustments. We all agreed not to mess with Christmas, but the other holidays we are spending with our own families in our own homes, and then once a quarter are planning a family outing. This Spring we had a fun picnic in a local park with about every outdoor game represented. This Summer we will head up to a picnic area for the day to a mountain in our city to enjoy the cooler weather.
This year for the first time, instead of our annual Girl’s Trip in September, we are having a family retreat for 4 days in a mountain setting. We rented a large cabin with lots of activities and cannot wait to have this time with each other and all the kids and the first grandchild. Our hope is this will become an every other year event, alternating with our Girl’s weekends.
In between these times, our adult children that are in town come over regularly for dinner and a game night. And my husband spends time with our adult boys every week playing disc golf. We simply enjoy being together…sharing life together.
One of my most cherished regular events that does not involve me began about a year ago. My mom invited her adult grandsons to meet with her regularly for an on-going Bible study. They generally come to her home where she provides lunch and they meet for a few hours – sometime weekly or a couple times a month, depending on schedules. This is building such a beautiful relationship between my mom and her grandsons ranging in age from 25-29, and the fruit from this time will continue to take root for years to come. I’m so grateful to my mom for investing this time and training into our boys.
My hope is that in reading this, you will be inspired to become intentional with your adult family relationships. Get creative with what you enjoy doing as a family and plan some events and activities! We try to be careful of everyone’s finances, and everyone pitches in and does their own part. I know everyone does not have the same luxury we do of mostly living in the same city or even state, but I hope this inspires you to recognize the importance and make the effort to regularly connect with your family, whatever that looks like. Please share some of your favorite family events in the comments!