Feast of the Holy Family
December 30, 2018
Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville 4:00pm and 8:00am
SPACE for Families
This afternoon/morning, I want to make some recommendations for families – for living family life today, in the year 2018.
I realize that there are different types of families. There is the structure that I grew up in – with a mother, a father, and children, with the mother being a stay-at-home mom and the father going out to work.
I also know that there is the reverse of that – with the father being a stay-at- home dad and the mother going out to work. Of course, in most families today both parents are working outside the house.
Then, there are single-parent families. There are blended families, with one or both parents having children from a prior marriage and now forming one new family.
And there are families with spouses having no children. Well, for all of these types of families, I want to offer five quick recommendations.
I offer these based on my own upbringing and on listening to some of you. These five recommendations begin with the letters: S—P—A—C—E.
Obviously, an easy way to remember these is the acronym SPACE, and maybe we could entitle these as Space for Families. So, here goes.
S stands for Structure. The idea is to structure the life of your family in ways that work for you.
Structure a time for the children to get up in the morning and to go to bed in the evening, a time to do homework and a time to play. Structure some responsibility for everyone to do something for the good of the household, like vacuuming or doing the dishes.
Structure some regular time for the entire family to be together. And structure certain family rituals, like birthday celebrations, Christmas dinner, visits to grandparents, things like that.
Then, the letter P in the word SPACE stands for Pray. The idea is to pray in some way as part of your family life.
For example, pray by inviting each person to thank God for one thing at the beginning of a family meal. Pray a simple bedtime prayer with your children or with each other as spouses.
Pray by coming to Mass together. I know that this can be challenging where there are different religious traditions, but try to do this if possible.
Next, the letter A stands for Affirm. It is important, first of all, for spouses to affirm one another for something accomplished at work, for looking attractive, things like that.
It is important for parents to affirm children for their strengths and gifts. It is important not to harp on failures or mistakes.
And it is important to affirm by showing affection. Exchanging a hug or a kiss is important among family members.
Then, the letter C in the word SPACE stands for Communicate. The idea is to share something of what’s going on in your life.
Talk with one another about your feelings of enthusiasm, stress, hurt, whatever. In all of this, communicating means that I risk opening myself up to the other members of my family.
And, of course, it also means that we respect one another and listen. We really try to understand and take in the feelings or ideas of the others.
Finally, the letter E stands for Eat. It is important for families to eat dinner together.
There is research showing that eating dinner together creates strong family relationships. The effect of doing this at least three times a week is remarkable especially on teens.
The incidence of teens resorting to smoking, drinking, or drugs is far less when families eat dinner together. This can be challenging with jobs and after-school activities and all the other opportunities today, but it is important to try to do this.
Structure – Pray – Affirm – Communicate – Eat.
I think these five actions will create SPACE for Families. They will help in today’s world to have happy, healthy, and even holy families.