Making Time for Family Time
Think back, right now, to the last time you spent valuable family time with your family. Think back to the last time you read a book to your baby sister. Think back to the last time you played a game with your younger brother, one that he wanted to play. Think back to the last time you talked with your sister and asked her about how she is doing in her life right now. When was it?
If you are like me, you are probably facing a pretty busy time of your life right now. Balancing heaps of school with as much social time as possible and somehow cramming in eating and sleeping and chores to the mix. Where is there time for family time? Why does it even matter?
Before we move on, let me say this as clearly as possible. Making time for and creating healthy loving bonds with each member of your family is among the most important things that you as a teen can be doing in your life right now. Succeeding in academics, that comes second. Excelling in sports, that comes second. Making friends, that comes second. Your family is the family that God gave you and they are the people who through good and through bad will help you get to heaven. It is so important that you give them the attention and the love that they deserve.
So, how do you make time for them?
First, don’t shun them. What is the instinctive reaction of a busy teenager towards a little sibling who is trying to get their attention? Unfortunately, it is almost always something along the lines of ‘Go away!’. ‘Stop bugging me!’, ‘I’m busy right now!’, and ‘Can’t you see I’m working!’ are also common remarks. I know that little sibling can often seem annoying. As the oldest of nine, I have a bit of experience of family life. It is often very difficult for me to make time for them, instead of losing my temper with them and telling them to go away.
One thing that teenagers don’t see though, is that what might seem to be an obnoxious little sibling is almost always a younger brother or sister who looks up to you, loves you, and wants nothing more than for you to give him or her just a little bit of attention. They are not trying to annoy you. Their motives are not malicious. They admire you and want you to, in a sense, admire them. You do this by giving them your time.
Now of course there will be times when you can’t spend time with them (i.e. mid-Latin class). What you can do though in these instances is, instead of reverting to one of the comments I gave before such as ‘Go away!’, show them that you at least do not think them to be a pain. Say, ‘I’m in the middle of class right now, can I play a game with you after I get out?’ It is little things like these, not ignoring them or shunning them, which will help you to establish a lifelong relationship with the members of your family. So, number one: Don’t shun them.
Second, spend time with them. So, in your kindest tone possible, while currently taking a difficult chemistry quiz, you told your loud little brother that you would play catch with him later. Later comes, it is late in the afternoon, you have just finished your chores, and now you wish for nothing more than your quiet bed and an enjoyable novel. ‘But wait!’, you remember, ‘I told Joseph I would play catch with him earlier!’ You are now faced with a predicament. Do you keep doing what you want to do, or do you sacrifice what you want to do and spend time with your brother? The right thing to do, and the one which will help you and your brother grow closer, is to play with him.
Often, we can be selfish with our time. It is extremely difficult to pull yourself away from what you are doing and do something with or for someone else. Especially family. But, as you begin to spend more time with your family, you will begin to notice two things.
First, it will become easier and even more enjoyable to be with your siblings. It won’t be a chore. You will grow to value your siblings as the wonderful people they are and will want to be with them. The generosity and kindness you show towards them will also extend to other areas of your life; the virtue you are learning in your home, in your interactions with the other members of your family, will lead you to be more virtuous outside of your home.
Second, you will begin to notice that your siblings won’t ‘bug’ you so much as they had before. When you give them attention, and they know that you will not forget about them when you are finished doing what you need to do, they will also let you be alone while you are working. Spending time with your family is truly a win-win for everybody. So, number two: Spend time with them.
Third, be there for them. One of the most important things you can do for your siblings is to be there for them. While you might say that this is the same as spending time with them, it is actually quite different. Being there for your siblings is something more than just spending time with them. Being there for your siblings shows them that you love them and that you are a person who they can trust and look up to as they grow up.
How do you make sure you are there for your siblings? It means standing up for them when they are treated unkindly, even if it means that you will be laughed at by your friends. It means going to their dance performances or their baseball games, even though you were invited to the movies. It means taking the time to talk with them about how they, as a person, are doing in their life right now. It means complimenting them when they do a good job. It means being an example for them to follow when they are having a rough time. It means loving them. This step of being there for them is one that you as an older sibling will have to fulfill your entire life; if they learn to look up to you now then in the future they will continue to look up to you. They will turn to you for advice even as an adult and they will want to have a relationship with you. So, number three,:Be there for them.
A recap: First, don’t shun them. Second, spend time with them. Third, be there for them.
As I hope you have seen, the importance of making time for your family cannot be understated. They need you and you need them. Your family will get you to heaven and you will get them to heaven. God gave them to you and as a Catholic, as a teenager, and simply as a good person, it is your responsibility to make time for them.