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Daily Leadership Thought #189 – Family Connections Matter

August 8, 2011

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A while back I attended a family reunion and had a fun time.  It was nice to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while, especially members of my extended family who I don’t see all that often.  It is much more enjoyable to see people during times of fellowship and celebration than it is only connecting when something sad has happened.  Unfortunately, as we get older it gets harder to stay connected.  People move away, careers get more demanding, kids keep us busy, and there is only so much free time.  This means it usually takes a significant event for people to drop what they are doing and make the effort to see one another.

In a world where technology is supposed to keep us more connected, I worry that it is also making our absence more acceptable.  While it’s good that you don’t always have to physically be there to stay in the communication loop and share others’ experiences, there is no real substitute for face-to-face interaction.

You need to see people’s kids grow up not just hear about it to get the true essence of the people they are becoming.  The ability to make eye contact, discern the tone of voice, and read body language is critical to fully understanding one another.  Shared storytelling, laughter, fun, and hugs are the true lubricant of any relationship and are only possible if you spend time together.  Like all relationships, caring recedes over time when there is a loss of focus and a lack of attention.

I have noticed that it’s easier for people to be socially awkward and distant from people, even family members when they spend little time with them.   It is tempting to make your nuclear family everything, but that can be very limiting for you and your children.  The world can be a tough place and life has its challenges, but the ride can be much easier if you know you have a circle of people supporting you who genuinely care about you.  These people in your life appreciate and love you for who you are, not what you’ve become or what you have.

Everyone’s life follows a similar trajectory and it’s comforting to know that you don’t have to share these experiences, good and bad, alone, or only rely on a few people.  I encourage you to fight the narrowing of your social circle, especially when it comes to your family and close friends.  It may not always be easy and will require some sacrifice on your end, but it will be worth it in the end.