Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Family Ties October 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:57 pm

“There is no such thing as ‘fun for the whole family.” Jerry Seinfeld




Where have I been and what have I been watching? Those are the questions I asked myself last night as I watched, for the first time, the television show “Parenthood.”  What a great program so why hadn’t I seen it until now, its last season?  Good question, but thanks to Neflix I will be watching it episode after episode.


Although I’ve only seen the pilot and this week’s episode, “Parenthood” looked like a good family drama so I’m somewhat surprised to hear this season is its final. A friend of mine believes this is because it doesn’t have enough sex and violence to merit “hit series” status.  I hope this won’t be the case with “Duck Dynasty,” another family-driven show.  Nothing like a real family with real values, right?


Families are important. Done.  End of blog.


Okay, not.


Yes, a family unit is indeed significant in many ways, but did you know that nearly every expert you talk to says feeling part of a family is vital to a person’s success?


Family quote


Apparently the single most important thing you can do to strengthen your family and the members of it is to develop a strong family narrative.  This means knowing where your grandma went to school, where your grandpa grew up, and other multi-generational facts and stories.  Research conducted by Emory University and reported in “Readers Digest” found that a child who knows where her grandmother went to school may be more resilient than a child who doesn’t.    Having a strong “intergenerational self” also allows kids to know (not just think, but know) they belong to something bigger than themselves.  The more children know about their family history, the higher their self-esteem tends to be and the more self-control they exhibit.


Following the tragic events of 9/11, researchers re-evaluated children affected by the tragedy and found that the ones who knew more about their families were more resilient. The military and sociology experts also report similar findings and experiences.


I’ve always liked the quote about giving your children both “roots and wings,” and now I know just how important those deep and strong roots really are.


This was music to the ears of this mom of an “only.” Kristen is our only child and I don’t even have to go into detail about what many automatically believe about children who don’t have siblings.  Spoiled.  Self-centered.  Introverted.  Unsocial.  Can’t share.   How can my only acquire all those advantages of family awareness when her “family” consists of mom and dad?


First off, let me first address all those misconceptions about onlies.   Single children are not only often very social and confident; they tend to achieve high levels of education and occupational prestige.  Pity the poor only?  Au contraire!


I was happy to read something that I always felt, that even without siblings, children benefit from knowing their extended families. I know for a fact that Kristen values her cousins more than perhaps others with lots of siblings might and that she hates the fact that her mom and dad aren’t necessarily close to all of their siblings.  Kristen never really wished for siblings, but she does wish she had a physically closer extended family.  She loves her family even if getting to know all members is somewhat challenging being that we are spread literally coast-to-coast.  This is the sad truth of most American families today, but thanks to technology, staying in touch is much easier even if it will never replace living down the street from grandma and grandpa or going to the same schools as your cousins.



Family Norman Rockwell



I love that at the end of each episode of “Duck Dynasty” cast members share a prayer and a family dinner. The Robertsons may be back-woods bubbas, but they are clearly onto something simple yet smart as family meals, much like a communicated family history, can actually result in a child’s better grades and healthier future relationships.


I remember when Kristen was younger we would sit down to dinner, say grace, and then we’d do our “highs and lows.” We would go around the table and say what our “high” of the day was and what our “low” was.   We don’t do so any more, but I’m glad we did it for as many years as we did.  Statistics would agree.


Teens that have regular meals with their parents often boast better grades, are less likely to be depressed, have higher self-esteem, and have better peer and opposite sex relationships. On the other hand, teens that have two or fewer family dinners a week are more likely to smoke, drink, hang out with sexually active friends, and smoke marijuana.


 “It is difficult to know what counts most in the world, but I am beginning to see that the things that really matter take place not in the boardrooms, but in the kitchens of the world.” Gary Allen Sledge



Family TV


It’s a tough world for kids today. Their family “role models” are “Modern Family,” “Two and a Half Men,” and the Kardashians.  Long gone are the days of the “Cosby Show,” “Seventh Heaven” and the “Brady Bunch.” Call me naïve and old-fashioned, but many a lesson was learned from Dr. Huxtable, lessons somewhat lost on today’s generation and households with a TV in every room.


The most recent Census Figures show that 66 percent of American households in 2012 were “family households,” down from 81 percent in 1970. Equally alarming is that between 1970 and 2012, the share of households that were married couples with children under age 18 dropped from 40 percent to a mere 20 percent.


But, I digress.


Despite the trends, how can any and all families raise stronger and happier children? Start by developing and keeping family traditions that can be passed down generation to generation and share your extended family’s history with your kids.  Be sure to create memories by taking family trips and work to ensure family members feel comfortable communicating with each other both in good times and bad.  No one needs to know they have the “perfect” family.  Way more beneficial is knowing they have a supportive and solid family.


Lastly, appreciate your family. Let members know you value them and choose your battles.  Tell them you love them even if you don’t always agree with them.  After all, it’s the only you’ve got.



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