Family Matters

Sonia and Jaime Bernardo, SFO
Chairs, National Family Commission

One of the major concerns of parents in this country is lack of time.  Is time really shrinking?  Absolutely not.    There are and will always be 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week.  When we remind our children of the tasks they have to do, and they respond with “we don’t have time”, we tell them “yes, you have time. You just have to prioritize. Do the important things first”.  Even the Council on Families in America and the Council on Civil Society have learned that the primary concern of parents in America is time.  “Increasingly, American parents believe that they are losing their children to an excessively materialistic and violent culture.” (Chicago Studies, Spring 2000)

That is the sad thing about society today – the desire of many families to acquire more and more material things “to make us happy”, to “get ahead”.  To achieve this goal, men work harder and longer than their parents did.  More and more women also work as many hours, if not longer, outside the home.  So who is left to show love, to guide, to nurture the children?  Grandparents, if they have the time, young baby sitters who “need the money”, older siblings who think it is unfair to be given such a responsibility.  When parents come home from work, they are too exhausted even to prepare dinner, much less help with school work or read to young children.  They have no time.  Nothing is left to give, but children are showered with toys in lieu of TLC on paydays!  They are left with more things than hours with parents.

No wonder we have shootings in schools and even in churches.  According to a recent study, shootings are the most common cause of violent death in schools.  On a TV show, parents were asked who was responsible for this violence.  They were unanimous in their answer: “We are!”  Elayne Bennett, founder of Best Friends, a youth development program in Maryland which fosters self-respect and sexual abstinence for teenage girls, stressed that the answers to many of society’s ills rest with parents.  “Keep communications open”, she urged parents, especially with your teenagers.

If time is the most important and expensive commodity, then families should prioritize.  A family who chooses more time for each other, rather than more money, is happier, closer, more attuned to each other’s needs, more satisfied.  Husbands and wives should spend time with each other, away from  their children, at least once a month, to reaffirm their love for each other.  The greatest gift you can give to your children is the love you have for your spouse.  Children become secure and confident knowing that their parents’ relationship is intact and secure.  Spending time alone with your child, even for a short time once a week, builds a strong relationship.  Go out for a walk, have lunch together, or even just sit in the park and be present to each other.  Let us remember that if time is gold, so are our children.