Family Gives us Hope
Hope is the soil that faith grows in. Family gives us hope. I heard a tragic story yesterday. Another teenager, 16 years old, took her own life. Wealthy family, superior private school and yet this child had no significant connections in her life that fed her the hope for the future that we all need in order to find meaning and significance in life. She needed her extended family. Family gives us hope.
Her mother is an educator getting her doctorate and the father a software engineer. They are both very successful and yet neither of them had a clue of what was happening with their child! So very sad. Oddly enough, the parents had been thinking about moving back to town where they were from. There they had other family members to connect to.
Parents, our children need relational connections. They need family. They need grandma and grandpa. They need cousins. they need aunts and uncles. They need people from multiple generations to give them an understanding that they are a vital part of the circle of life.
Each member of a family, each vital loving relationship with grands, uncles, aunts, gives your child clues to who the are. Each relationship opens up areas of that baby’s brain where entirely new categories of neurons emerge, expand and serve to create a whole new dimension of that little person. YOU, MOM AND DAD, CANNOT DO THAT! Only the relationship with those other—significant family members—can trigger that movement in the child’s brain.
Some young parents seem to think that they are everything their child needs. And how wrong they are! To shelter your child so closely and disallow them the honor of building relationships with the rest of their family is to stunt their growth. It will isolate them in the long run. It will eliminate the opportunity for building infrastructures of relationships that can be a safety net for their lives down the road.
I can’t help but think how differently that 16-year-old’s life could have been if she has had access to grandma in the country? What if she had spent the summers in a setting away from a private school and with the generation who had raised her parents.
I look at my own son and remember how he came home to Mississippi each summer and lived with my parents. Their influence was so meaningful. I see the way he cuts his food with a knife and fork is just like my father. And when he says grace over his food, he says the same prayer my father spoke for my entire life.
I see him cooking recipes my mother taught him.
He is an avid reader because at 12, his uncle Matthew gave him a James Patterson book.
He learned lawn care working in the summer from his uncle Ray.
He learned to play dominoes from his uncle DC.
He is a better person not because of what I gave him but because of all the relationships from the family that contributed to the wonderful young man he has become.
So mom and dad, please, if your parents, brothers, sisters, are normal healthy loving safe people, share your children with them. Let the love of other family members teach your child how special they are. Let that love communicate the message that your child matters if for no other reason than that God planted them in this family. Family gives us hope.
And that is enough of a reason for us to love you!
You, mom and dad, are not enough. Hopefully, a tragedy won’t prove that to you.
This post is from our archives. It was originally written in 2005.