Family Connections

Family Connections Are Basic Needs
(But the kid’s table is still up for debate)

We need connection. Humans are social creatures. Some are lucky to be born into a family where we can create and nurture those necessary connections. Others must look beyond relatives to create that family. Whether your family is large and boisterous or small and intimate, whether you were born into a familial support network or ventured out to find people to whom you belonged, bonding with family shares similar foundations.

Sharing meals is one of the oldest rituals of bonding. Perhaps because it is so tied to our survival, sitting down to a meal with other people often inspires a certain amount of intimacy and trust. You can’t just eat greasy chicken wings with your fingers in front of anyone, can you?

There is something about sitting at a table with people you love, participating in the act of survival, and nurturing your body while also nurturing your soul. However, be wary of bipartisan confrontations, the biggest perhaps being whether or not there should be a kids’ table and what that age limit is.

Traveling is another bonding experience among family members. Think back to a time when our ancestors were nomads. It was necessary to trust the people we traveled with. Our survival depended on everyone’s ability to help keep the group safe and find essential resources. Sure, going on a Disney Cruise may not look like migrating across the steppes in a wintry storm, but we must be able to depend on someone to find their way through the long, confusing corridors to the buffet.

Most people don’t consider sleep a time to bond, but it is when we are most vulnerable. There are a few people who are comfortable sprawling out on the floor of an airport and going off to dreamland, but most of us don’t sleep well unless we are comfortable and safe. We may not be actively bonding, but sleeping in front of someone signals you feel safe and protected in their presence. (Can you sleep on just anyone’s couch after a Thanksgiving meal?) Whether or not your uncle’s insanely loud snoring grates at those bonded feelings until they’re mere wispy tendrils of responsibility, that’s another issue.

Bonding with family is critical to our mental health and survival. It can look like many different scenarios, but the foundations are there.

The most basic needs of humanity and connection are sometimes found in seemingly insignificant moments. But they must exist.

Whoever you find to be your family, enjoy those moments you share.

Sit at the table over a roast chicken, go camping, and enjoy the peace and quiet (and hopefully not buggy) experience of sitting around a campfire.

Get out the board games for family game night and share in healthy competition or play one of the many available cooperative games. Create the time to connect with your family. That time is valuable.

Jim Dowdell

I am a 62-year-old, husband (42 years), father of 5 beautiful children, and grandfather of 8 precious grandkids.

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