Archive for: Family Bonding

Tribute for my Father

Dad was a Navy man, a country boy, a dedicated teacher, a fearless commercial fisherman, and a devoted father. He lived his truth.

With Dad

Sometimes our fathers work hard, love our mothers, and treat us well. Other times fathers have many challenges and seem to do everything that is not good for their kids growing up. And sometimes we get a little bit of both in the mix.

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Investment or Folly?

When I was a little girl, I remember my mother tsk-tsking over some of the “fancy” boats some of our friends had. She would shake her head and talk about the waste of money.

As my bro, sis, and I grew up, my mother wondered sometimes why we hadn’t adopted her party line. I know she spent some relatively intense time over the years bemoaning the fact that we were more wayward than she thought we ought to be; she had taught us—why didn’t we listen? Where had she gone wrong?

Fast-forward to the present–many, many years later!

We were enjoying breakfast with friends this last weekend, and as we chatted, my friend Diane was bringing me up to date about her kids, grandkids, in-laws, out-laws, and many nieces and nephews. Now Diane knows how to do family! She has lots of family, having both her adoptive family and her  biological relatives.


Diane and husband Obie made an investment in a houseboat 21 years ago. They keep it at a marina on the end of a lake not too far from the city. During the summer season—and even the spring and the fall—every weekend finds them on the boat. It’s what they do.

As we talked about family, she commented that her nieces had just called to see about spending a weekend on their houseboat this summer. And the next-door-neighbors, who were friends of their children while they were growing up, had called. During their conversation, they had shyly asked if they might spend a week with Diane and Obie on the boat.

Making breakie

Diane and Obie generously share space with many family members and friends. I remember her leaning on us to come up sometime and spend a weekend with them. We made it happen. They shared the main cabin with us and pitched a camp tent on the roof for their master bedroom. We also now share delightful memories of long paddle-boat trips, short sail-boat jaunts, good books, and smoked salmon & wild blackberry omelettes.

Sail away!

Diane and Obie spent good times with their kids–and their kids’ friends—as they were growing up. They still do. Today their young adults are doing well, and Diane and Obie are very proud of them. These “kids” still look forward to time spent away with family at the lake.

When Diane and Obie made the investment in their boat over two decades ago, I wonder if they consciously thought of the time they would spend sharing fun and laughter—the stuff which enables parents to pass on their values to their kids. I don’t know! But heck—even the neighbor kids caught some of the family warmth—and it is still providing a rudder for them as they navigate the course of their lives!

Bravo to people like Diane and Obie who have shamelessly celebrated family fun! And to their kids—and their neighbor kids—who learned a lot about how to live as they shared the warmth of family. Maybe—just maybe—it has something to do with their strong family bonds today.

Beam me up Scotty!

 Human beings were designed to connect—no two ways about it! Loving bonds with family and friends provide meaning to our lives. When we find ourselves isolated emotionally, physically, and socially—without those connections—we may easily begin to wonder why we exist.

The ability to connect is developed early on by the warm loving relationships of mommy-baby time. In order for this bond to be successful, quality time in the womb, and with mom and dad in the first two years, is absolutely essential! This connecting ability that baby learns at a very young age lays the foundation for emotional maturity later in life as an adult.

In this real, 21st-century world we live in, our youngest citizens don’t always get this basic nurture. So for some connecting comes naturally, and for others—due to both genetic and environmental influences—forming strong connections is a real challenge.

If only we could call on Scotty, as Captain Kirk did so often in Star Trek. Instead of transportation back to the starship Enterprise, we could just use our ‘starship communicator’ to plead, “Just connect me up, Scotty!” Alas! In really-truly land it is not so easy! Sometimes forming—or strengthening—those relationships seems impossible.

Not to give up however! Some of us have found that forming a bond with an animal can provide us with the warm connection we need when our relationships with people seem to be challenged to the max or even failing.

One such young man hangs his hat in West Yorkshire, UK. Teen Nick Gilling was having trouble in school. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and he stood out in the classroom—and not in a good way. He was perceived as ‘different’ and other students bullied him, kicking him in the stomach and leaving bruises.

One day Nick simply refused to put on his school uniform that was so bound up with memories of the cruelty of his schoolmates. His mother did what she could, and in her research discovered an education and training group named PAWS – Parents Autism Workshops and Support, which matched young persons with a pet which had been trained to help them function.

AlfieNick loved Sally, the Corgi his family got through PAWS, from the beginning. He began to do things for her that he had been unwilling and unable to do for himself. After Sally and Nick had become dear friends, one morning Nick and his mum were battling it out over him putting on his school uniform. When he refused, mum dressed Sally in Nick’s uniform and Nick loved it! He had an instant breakthrough, and the next day he put on his uniform on his own. The impasse was broken! Sally to the rescue!

If you find yourself dealing with social challenges and feel distanced from other people, feeling lonely and isolated, perhaps you could meet your basic human need for loving relationship by getting a pet. If you are unsure if you could properly care for a pet, visit your local humane society and offer to volunteer to pet the animals one day. Who knows what rewarding relationship Scotty might beam you off to?

Taken from on 16 January 2013

Want to learn more about early childhood experience? Check out the Pre-Parenting book by Dr. Thomas Verny and Pamela Weintraub on Amazon.


Honey’s Mama is no Boo Boo!

TLC’s Honey Boo Boo is going strong! And with the fate of her girls weighing heavy on Mama’s mind, she is squirreling away the dough for the betterment of her offspring.

I find myself wondering what helps her keep her feet on the ground in the face of all the brouhaha and sudden influx of money.

One of my basic beliefs is that human beings were absolutely designed to connect! If you were to try to invent a social grouping that would promote the good of society long-term, what kids on slidebetter group could you think up than creating families?

We’ve heard for eons now that ‘The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together.’ That has evolved into the mantra of ‘The Family that Plays Together, Stays Together.’

In an ideal world, mamas and daddies would love each other, procreate in loving community, and protect and provide for their offspring. The kids would grow up knowing they are important and valuable members of their family group. This would prepare them for their own journeys into the world as they come of age and make more babies.

Humans who grow up in an atmosphere of acceptance and benevolence make great citizens! Sometimes I think we have gotten too far from the warm connections that maintain our humanity and we end up unwittingly trading our inborn stock as humans for the drivel of ‘what’s-hot-today.’  Let’s not forget where we came from and who we are designed to be in our full potential!

As for Honey Boo Boo’s mama? She sure seems to have a lot of fun with her little ones!

Whatever line of thinking floats your boat, strong and loving connections with family promote better mental processing, and these bonds in turn encourage pro-social behavior! This is easy to remember and internalize!

Loving your family = sharper cookies = better decisions.

A great start for 2013!