Family Matters
Ideas for Families

Sonia and Jaime Bernardo, SFO
 Chairs, National Family Commission

Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others and share their burdens.  Each one must show concern, not only for his or her own life, but also for the lives of the other members of the family: their needs, their hopes, their ideals.

Pope John Paul II

Creating a family mission statement (Goal Setting)

Corporations, associations, organizations, including our Order, have mission statements to guide them in achieving their goals.  Families can follow their examples.  Gather members of your family and discuss your concerns, worries, or problems confronting your family.  What do you want as a family?  What worries or problems concern you?  Perhaps better communication, finances, health, etc.  What is important to you as a family?  What are the rules or principles you want the members of the family to follow?  What gifts and talents do your family members have? How can your family become a better Christian family?  What do you want to accomplish in the next six months, or twelve months?  Each member of the family should discuss his or her vision of the family, and how these goals can be accomplished.  Every member will feel important when each one takes part in developing the “Family Mission Statement”.

Family Time

When our three sons were teenagers, we noticed that if they were allowed, they would fill the days of the week with activities with friends and classmates.  So we made a policy that one day of the week would be spent with the family, we called this “family time”.  This meant that no one would schedule activities on that day, except with the family.  So, at the beginning of the week we would already look for places to go, things to see, people to visit, museums to see, and activities that we could do together as a family – things that would enrich us in many ways.  Sometimes we just hopped into the car and drove and drove, but we were together. This togetherness drew us very close to each other as a family.  It was a time for nurturing, caring, and loving each other, but at the same time we had fun together.  To this day, the children remember those Sundays with loving memories.  Family time is a great time to nurture your children’s spirituality, to teach values, good manners, and right conduct (GMRC). 

With two-income families now common, spending time with children truly requires creativity and resourcefulness.

One on One

One on one time together with a family member – a son, a daughter, or a spouse – is quality time that can make a big difference in everyone’s life.  Have lunch with a daughter or son once a week, or twice a month.  Sit together, listen to music, or take a walk for a half hour or so.  Having quality time with one person develops deep bonding, provides the opportunity to give oneself freely to the other, to be really present to one another.  This is where each strengthens the other, this is where loving and nurturing take place, this is where deep sharing can develop unconditional love.

These ideas can lead to a successful family life.  Whatever your own familial situation, one thing is certain: successful family life doesn’t “just happen”.  It is something for which every family member – from the youngest to the oldest – has to work.  Yes, it is work, but it is joyful, fulfilling work.  With love, a sense of commitment, and a spirit of forgiveness, we can overcome every adversity as family members find strength in one another.