From Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, the “summer season (more commonly referred to by youth as summer break) provides a perfect time to celebrate family and be together. The pace of the summer holiday season seems much slower than the frantic pace we keep over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Maybe it’s the heat that slows us down or the barbeques and sunshine. Whatever the reason, “free time seems far more plentiful for those of us who have not planned the summer schedule down to the last minute.
While going on vacation or heading off somewhere for the weekend is fun, wonderful, and can be a great experience for your family, you do not have to take a trip to get the most out of your summer break. Let’s face it; beyond being expensive, vacations often leave the adults far more tired than when we left. So if our goal is to take a break and unwind, then why don’t we simply slow down as a family, together? This takes deliberately pausing and saying, what memories do we want to provide our children or grandchildren this summer? What are we really giving them? As a family, this is an opportunity to deliberately build and strengthen you connection with each other.
What do families provide?
A child answering this question might simply say: fun! Others might answer: money! We could create a list with lots of different and interesting answers. But if we were to simplify that seemingly endless list, and view it from the family perspective, we would see that some of the key things that families give to their children are a: sense of identity; an example; moral, social, and economic support; boundaries that provide security and structure in which children can flourish; influence that lasts a lifetime.
More and more information continues to reveal that this generation does not have a sense of history. The current research states that children do not even have a sense of their own family history and that there is tremendous value in knowing and hearing stories about their family’s past. This seems obvious when we remember that one of the key functions of the family is to give us a sense of place and identity. Our history tells us how we arrived at this point.
If you have a family reunion this summer, take the time to acquaint your children with their extended family and how they are connected. This is a fantastic chance to give your children and grandchildren a sense of who they are, and where they came from, while making an impression on whom they are and how they are part of a much larger community. Amidst all the noise and confusion of our culture, it is easy to lose a sense of who we really are. Connecting our children to their family history teaches them that they are not “alone. And while yes, every family has “one of those relatives, celebrate the breadth of the unique elements that make up your immediate and extended family. In truth, your family members help explain why you are the way you are to your own children.
The key piece of family is a deep commitment by the parents to parenting and raising their children. Summer is a perfect time to demonstrate that commitment. But it is not the only time. A real, lasting, commitment is shown over time; day after day. Spending time regularly doing what they enjoy doesn’t mean catering to their every interest but it does mean you should spend the time learning what truly holds their interest. The summer is a perfect time to stop, slow down, and invest in the next generation: your children and family.

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