harmonious family life: nurturing relationships in a technology-based world

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{Welcome to the series called Harmonious Family Life.  I hope you’ll find something here you can introduce into your home to create a space of harmony.}

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This past week has been one of those weeks that I've consciously avoided my email box for days.  I know that there are very few real emails from people I know and love.  I'm sure it is overflowing with deals before Easter, coupon codes, newsletters, and so on.  This week I caught myself thinking back to years ago when I'd get a few emails a week and they were mostly written emails from friends.  I remember when you'd have to pick up the phone to contact a friend or send a letter and when businesses would have to send flyers and catalogs in the mail to inform you of a sale.

I'm currently trying to figure out how to keep one foot in each door: the modern, fast-paced technological world and the world that is quiet because relationships and other daily communications are controlled at my pace.  Indeed, this is a major dilemma of our day, isn't it?  How to reap the incredible benefits of technology and speedy communication while not losing focus of what a real, genuine relationship looks and feels like.  It not only affects us personally but as families as well.

It all comes down to time.  I try to meet people face to face more (which I'm lousy at making time for) and call people more and, do the most outrageous of them all: send a letter from time to time.  I'm not very good at doing these things but I sincerely miss that this is how I used to contact and communicate with others 100% of the time.  I still have saved some written letters that my parents wrote me at challenging times in my life, little torn out notes from my sister encouraging me to be confident in myself in high school, and more importantly, memories of long distanced phone calls (yes, using phone cards back then) with friends and family over the years.  And now when I pick up the phone to call someone that lives many states away to "catch up" it feels like I'm a 20 year old college student again with every memory so vivid in my mind just from hearing that friend's voice on the other line.

How can we preserve old fashioned communication and try to nurture relationships better and more meaningfully?  How do we encourage our children to use the benefits of modern technology while enjoying the process of nurturing relationships through forgotten means?

Here are a few ways to focus on nurturing relationships in a fast paced, technology world:

  • Take over your email box by unsubscribing (regularly) to groups, businesses, etc. who's emails just fill up your email box and waste your time.  If you honestly don't get any value from their emails, unsubscribe.  Your email box should be serving you.  You decide which businesses, newsletters, etc., are worth your valuable time.  The time you save daily by not having to open or trash mindless emails can be used much more productively in nurturing relationships as outlined below.
  • Set aside a window of time each week or month to call someone that's been on your mind.  I keep a little list of people I want to catch up with, hear personally about their new baby, find out about a recent trip they've taken, etc.  For me, I try to reserve Sunday afternoon.  I usually go to my room and shut the door, uninterrupted, and call someone that I've been thinking of.  This has become such a special time for me to see and hear the whole picture from a friend or family member beyond what I'd learn from any social media update.
  • Before you text someone, ask yourself if that particular situation/conversation would be more valuable and more meaningful if done over the phone.  If so, pick up the phone and make someone's day.  Let your children see you in real conversation on the phone more than texting regularly.  They will learn many communicative habits from watching their parents daily.
  • Plan an evening (even if it's monthly) to invite people into your home.  It could be for a family night of games, dinner outside, or a later night get-together of quilters/knitters/crafters/book lovers.  Look for ways to be with people to build and grow relationships in person.  The benefit for you and others will astound you.  People--particularly women--so need each other.  Bringing a group together of families, moms, friends, or couples together will create memories a million times over than simply "liking" a friend's activity on Facebook.
  • Write a real letter and mail it.  It seems like so much work when we're so used to just shooting an email but there is one thing very different with a letter: it is tangible.  It can be carried, cherished, taped on the fridge, saved for years, and more importantly, the recipient feels absolutely special that someone took the time to write and mail them a letter.
  • Encourage your children while they're young (and when they're older) to practice the art of meaningful communication.  Keep blank postcards, notecards, paper for letters, and addresses easily accessible for them to use.  As they watch you write and send letters, they will want to try it themselves.  You'll be teaching them a valuable lesson of taking the time for relationships.  Let them see and hear you (or at least know) when you connect with an old friend on the phone.

 

Commit to trying something new this week.   Discuss communication as a family one night.  Challenge each family member to write someone a letter they might usually email.  Challenge them to call someone on the phone when they might be tempted to chat online.  The rewards for your family will bring more harmony and slowing down in your home and life.  And the more you reach out in nurturing relationships the "old fashioned way" the more others will respond in that same manner to your family.  Your children will feel how exciting it is to receive a letter, a special phone call, and how "taking the time" will make all of the difference in nurturing real, lasting relationships.

How do you and your family nurture relationships in a technology-based world?

In the series:

harmonious family life: stations

 

the sleepy time gal