For many of us, perhaps most of us, our families come first, before all the other important things in life. But does our behavior reflect that belief?
Although most people would say that nothing is more important than their families, day-to-day behavior can tell another story. As Jennifer James, a former Seattle columnist, once pointed out, “When we’re moving fast, sometimes the relationships we care most about get short shrift. We think those we love will forgive us if we spend most of our time on other things. But a child may grow up before we notice that the hours of being too busy have extended into days, weeks, months and years.” Parents think there will be time to pull it back together. But often, they are incorrect.
James reminds us that, “There are ways to give time and interest to children, family and friends even when every minute seems loaded.” For example, you can turn off the TV or close down the laptop when a loved one is talking to you. Move away from the temptation of email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. Video games can get put aside for a few moments. The simple gesture of looking directly at someone and stopping what you’re doing for a few minutes, while they’re talking, says they are important to you.
In Dr. Seligman’s PERMA model, the R stands for Relationships. These are defined by creating and maintaining positive interactions with others in our circle of influence. Positive, caring and supportive relationships are essential to our well-being throughout all stages of life. Positive, supportive relationships guide us through obstacles we face, and help us see what we are doing well. Our ability to accept support when needed, and to support others in return, is key to our growth and our feeling of value.
And while some folks might think it antiseptic and distant, it’s time to use today’s technologies as an instant way of staying in touch. Let’s make technology work for us. The simple text, “Thinking of you. Love you. See you soon,” lightens the heart and puts a smile on a loved one’s face. After all, it is about the connections, yes?