Supporting Family: Isn’t It About . . . Time?

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In my Language Arts classes, I’ve been teaching my students weekly out of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. In the book, the author (Sean Covey) talks about how we can liken our relationships with other people to a bank account—each action that builds and strengthens the relationship is like putting a deposit into the account, and each action that weakens or undermines the relationship is like taking out a withdrawal.

Last week, we were discussing what the students thought were “withdrawals” and what were “deposits,” and I required the students to explain WHY something added to or broke down a relationship. We started talking about  how each action towards another person always comes attached with an unspoken message that can be either strengthening or demeaning. (For example, when someone is on their phone texting or playing a game when you’re trying to talk to them, they’re unconsciously sending the message that A) you’re not important and/or interesting enough to hold their full attention, or B) that particular game or text message is much more important and/or engaging than anything you might be saying.)

Now, there’s a lot I need to work on when it comes to making deposits into my most important relationships (including learning how to just say no to playing Candy Crush when there are any other people around), but here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a couple years now:

I want to be the kind of person that “shows up” to support the people I care about.

Let me elaborate—

Growing up, my extended family almost always “showed up” for all our major events: baptisms, birthdays, championship games, graduations, etc. I honestly didn’t realize how much that support meant to me until I was much older and could appreciate how impressive (and rare) it really was to be surrounded by family (immediate and extended) and friends at events like my mission farewell or at my wedding.

Even if a family member or friend doesn’t get the chance to say a lot to me at one of these types of events, it means a lot that they just showed up.

The unspoken message of showing up?

“You’re worth taking time out of my life for. I want to show you that I care by making time to support you in your milestones and triumphs, in your sorrows and in your times of need. I want to be a part of your life.”

It wasn’t until recently how much I realized that this HAS to be a conscious, continuous decision for me—because we live at a bit of a distance from many family things, it’s unrealistic that we make it to absolutely everything. However, I’ve realized lately that it’s SO important that we show up whenever we can.

In addition to creating lasting memories, “showing up” continues to send that message to loved ones that we care enough to make time.

I know I’m far from perfect on this, but I’ve decided that from this year on, I’m going to try and “show up” a lot more for my loved ones, whether it’s through making a weekly phone call or coming to important events. I know that distance and other commitments might make it difficult sometimes to always follow through on that resolution, but it’s something I’m willing to really work on.

(Pictures taken at my cousin’s wife’s baby shower and my nephew’s baptism & birthday celebration)
How do you keep relationships with family members and other loved ones strong,
especially when you live some distance apart?
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