This is part of a series of posts exploring the impact that our relationship with our family has on how we define success.

How you build and maintain family relationships translates into your work relationships as a leader and employee.

No two children are ever born into the same family. -Leo Rosten

Hurt people, hurt people.

After his death, my generation and the next generation hurt. We were all in need of family support; we like to say that family is a way of holding hands forever. Or, as in Aristotle’s 2400-year-old words, “The family is the association established by nature for the supply of man’s everyday wants.”

Our oldest daughter Amanda was back from Thailand, still shaken from missing the funeral, feeling separate from the family due to her unavoidable 10,000-mile absence. She was excited to connect with everyone at a retreat that summer of 2007. We trekked to Maine, to a lakefront compound owned by my brother Jim’s father-in-law. We planned it to be an annual event; it remains our only one to date.

Hurt people, hurt people.  Tweet This Quote

Other than my father’s funeral, had we ever all assembled? We were missing one (Amanda) that day due to geography, but everyone else was there. At all the weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and other life events, there were always at least a few people missing due to something. Even at this retreat one of the ten grandchildren was absent. She had a swim event—one of several for this 11-year old—that I guess her immediate family felt was more important.

But 16 of 17 made it. Marilyn didn’t come. She didn’t travel any more and hasn’t travelled since. In any case, she is of another generation — the generation Dad used to say was run by “Mommy the Queen and Daddy the Dictator.” We, and our boomer marriages, are decidedly different.

Mark, Jim and John—his three sons were there with their wives, sister Janice and nine of our ten children. Impressive for the Albions! And guess what? We had a good time. We weren’t sure what to do. We had never thought about how to act as a family. But as Dad had just died that May, he gave us something to talk about that summer. The shared pain forced us to recognize our common heritage; in at least this one way, we were one.

This we know—all things are connected
like the blood which unites one family.
– Chief Seattle  Tweet This Quote

For many family members, especially the cousins who lived in the North (my two children and Jim’s four) versus those in Florida (John’s three children and Janice’s one, Max), the retreat was an icebreaker. We each gravitated to the cousin(s) that most interested us. For example, the oldest cousin, my 20-year old Amanda, spent a lot of time with Jim’s youngest, 3-year old Matthew. She adores young children; he loved the attention!

Conversations tended to be light and non-controversial; we even found that we had several different senses of humor that didn’t mix. Our political leanings didn’t mix, either. Communication was often not clear, even when what was discussed wasn’t substantive. The dance of talking and listening had not been established.

There were, however, fun intergenerational outings on the lake, laced with random conversations throughout the day—even among siblings who rarely spoke to each other. Sister Janice and my wife Joy had a good laugh when John’s oldest, Jake, needed to call his mom who was in town for supplies. Cell phones didn’t work at the woodsy compound, so he had to use a rotary phone. Having never seen one, Jake had no clue how to dial it. One of the best laughs of the retreat.

Jake is also one of the most thoughtful of the ten cousins. Even at 16, he had a wisdom about him, a sensitivity about people, and powerful listening skills that I found enjoyable and educational. One afternoon, Jake and I took out a canoe to explore the lake and each other’s thoughts on Dad’s death and the family.

The great advantage of living in a large family
is that early lesson of life’s essential unfairness.
– Nancy Mitford

Jake wanted to know more about my relationship with Dad. Why didn’t I visit more often? He had heard many different things from various members of the family, all jockeying for position with Dad. Jake instinctively knew that much of the posturing was tied to money, and that his grandfather used it as a way of manipulating family members. He wanted to hear directly from his Uncle Mark.

He was also keenly aware of how differently my sister’s only child, Max, was treated. He mentioned the December holidays at Dad’s home where Jake and his siblings would get a few presents, but Max would get several and most were very expensive. Jake wasn’t complaining, simply wondering, asking—interested in what I thought about all these inequities that went on under Dad’s roof.

I was cautious on what and how I replied. Jake’s probing came from curiosity, not judgment. That’s what is often so beautiful in the young, and what I enjoyed so much at the retreat: unvarnished intergenerational questioning and curiosity, without a hint of judgment or an opinion on the subject already set.

The more I wondered when was I talking about my father, or when was I looking inward at myself.  Tweet This Quote

Jake knew little of what Uncle Mark from Boston thought of what happened each Sunday amongst the Florida part of the family and the weekly visits to Dad and Marilyn’s home. Even when no one really wanted to drive over, when their lives of swimming, school, Hebrew school and friends were overly busy, everyone visited. They felt they had to. At times, family members resented it. So what had been going on with my relationship with the family and Dad?

I wish that I had brilliant, magical responses to Jake’s honest, heartfelt questions, but I didn’t. I too harbored a lot of anger and negative feelings I didn’t want him to see. Even when I had problems with my parents, I never let it affect their relationships with the grandchildren.

I talked of Dad’s past. Of how he had been shaped, not knowing much yet as I wouldn’t find that box in the attic for another month. Of why he might act as he had, and that he too struggled with his own insecurities, just like we did. But the more I responded to Jake’s questions, the more I had questions myself. The more I wondered when was I talking about my father, or when was I looking inward at myself. Jake was motivating me toward what I needed to do next.

It was time to go back down to Florida, to see what more I could find out about his past—if for no other reason than to be a better uncle for Jake. After all, while I cared about my relationship with my father, he was dead. Jake was alive.

It was time to go forward from this retreat to help the living. I wanted to stir up what still lived inside me. I thirsted to know more about myself as I learned more about my father. I hungered to heal my heart. After all, don’t hurt people, hurt people?

The family is the country of the heart. -Giuseppe Mazzini  Tweet This Quote

Check out Mark’s series here:

About the author

Mark Albion

Mark Albion

Mark Albion left his business school professorship to answer his life question: "How can I be a Marxist and still own my own Jacuzzi?" He is now a serial entrepreneur, faculty founder of Net Impact, and author of a series of books exploring meaningful careers, impact entrepreneurship, and success.

  • There are two statements in this section of my book that really make me think. What are your reactions? I’d love to hear. The first statement: “Hurt people, hurt people.” The second: “The more I responded to Jake’s questions, the more I had questions myself. The more I wondered when was I talking about my father, or when was I looking inward at myself.” What do you think?

  • Have you had a family retreat, one that had affected you and/or how you act as a family? If so, I’d love to hear about it and what you learned. Please share whatever you are comfortable sharing. Thank you!

  • Anthony Urbanski

    When I was a freshman in high school, we went up to Minnesota for a family retreat. I had never meet any of my family in Minnesota prior to the visit. It was awkward at first but eventually you get comfortable with them. The thing that surprised me most was how much I learned about my mom. I have a great relationship with her to begin with but it was interesting hearing my aunts and uncles reminisce on old time. I think reunions are a great tool for keeping the family connected!

  • Absolutely, Anthony. The next section of the book is exactly what you are talking about: getting to know more about your parents before you got to know them. Very cool to learn about them from other family members who knew them as a child! Anything in particular stand out? I’m right now taking my mom to cancer treatments. Takes about 3 hours of my time a day. Sounds tough, but actually, one of the delights is that at 86, she is reflecting on the 1940s and her life growing up, and I get to hear about it. In doing so, she is also indirectly answering questions I’ve had for years. Did any of that happen to you at your retreat?

  • Anthony Urbanski

    While in Minnesota I was able to learn that my mom was actually quite different than me as a youth. Although not surprised because I am always told that I remind people of my dad, I found great enjoyment listening to her high school stories. I was able to picture her in a different light which made it easier to relate to her. Our relationship only benefited form the retreat. Just like your three hour car ride I did not feel bored to death listening to my elder family members talk about their younger days.

  • Wonderful. Thank you, Anthony. My youngest daughter loves hearing about me as a child–which used to be whatever age she was when asking me. Very nice.

  • laurenkraft

    A few years ago I was at my dad’s pinning ceremony, there was so many relatives that I had never met before it was very awkward and uncomfortable at first but then we got to talking and they kept telling me how much I am like my dad and sharing stories about how he was when he was younger it was a very memorable weekend and we even stay in touch still.

  • Angela Hoch

    I have! I had a family retreat actually in Mexico where both sides of my parents family joined my immediate family. I was a bit overwhelmed seeing all of my cousins and then some brought there significant others, their children, and friends. I learned that even though we are all different in our own ways, we are also very similar in a lot of ways as well. It’s weird looking at all those people and realizing that they’re part of your family, and are a part of you. A lot of my extended family members live out of state, so I don’t get the luxury of seeing them a lot which is why this retreat ended up to be a positive experience. I had the chance to catch up with a lot of my cousins, and even learn more about their lives. 🙂 It’s important to know where you come from

  • Angela Hoch

    Mark, my parents also have had me ask how they were as children. I find it so intriguing to know how they were when they were my age because it helps me understand maybe why I act the way I do in certain scenarios. I can also see that my parents enjoy reflecting upon their “younger” years and kind of going back in time for a moment.

  • Thanks, Lauren. Very cool getting to know about your folks when they were young. My kids would see a pic of me at say 35 and say, “Oh, Dad, I never knew you were so skinny!” 🙂 Kids…

  • Wonderful to know where you come from, Angela. In the late 1990s, I first visited my cousins in Brazil. When I walked into cousin Sara’s apartment (see was from my grandparents’ generation but 10 years younger), it had the same kind of art and smelt just like my maternal grandmother’s apartment in Brookline 20 years before. I knew I was with family. Very warm feeling.

  • As we get older, we begin to reflect backwards more, as more of our life is back there than moving forward. My 86 year old mom just told me a story last Friday about trying to please her mom and how critical her mom was and it made me reflect on how uncritical my mom has tried to be with me, and I the same with my kids. In fact, when I researched my Brazilian family (mentioned in my other response to you), I found family members acting in ways in the late 1880s similar to some of the dysfunctional actions we have in my family today. Fascinating!

  • vitalecm03

    Love this article! Cant say that I have lost someone so close to me but I have seen it happen in others’ lives. Its amazing how someones death in the family can bring everyone in the family together with a snap of your finger. I know my mom had a huge falling out with her parents and she didn’t talk to them for two years almost and I feel like our family is slowly drifting apart because no one wants to face the anger and pain they’ve felt from others over the years. I’m learning as is my mom that it’s all about forgiveness and if you can do that, it’ll be easier to move forward with our lives. Since then my mom has gotten back in touch with her parents and is working on fixing the relationship. Thank you for this!

  • Thank you. What is it that got your mom to reach out. I will be writing quite a bit about forgiveness coming up, and if it was simply moving forward, and forgiving, why did she do it then and not earlier or later? And what about you? Is this an issue in your life?

  • vitalecm03

    My mom has been seeing a therapist for awhile now and I believe she finally realized after 40 some years of feeling anger and hurt that we can’t change other people and forgiveness is for ourselves not for others. We feel more at peace when leave behind the baggage and accept people for who they are. It’s still a work in progress but that’s the start of it all.

  • Wonderful point: forgiveness is not for the other person but for you yourself. There are really two sides to forgiveness, aren’t there? Too bad more people don’t find it easier to forgive – not others as much as forgive themselves, don’t you think?

  • vitalecm03

    Yeah I agree, too many people spend their lives dwelling in the hurt and anger that they have built up. More people need to look past the disappointment because we all are going to have that in our lives. What matters is if you spend your time being mad at someone or moving on so you can move forward.

  • MeierKM23

    Thanks for sharing this Mark. I can’t say or recall at the moment of a family retreat that has a affected me but when my mom and her side of the family get together, it is always fun. My mom grew up with seven sisters and two brothers and she is the third from the last, being older than the youngest, her twin sisters. She grew up on a farm with all of these siblings, a couple of them adults and out of the house when she was born, but always was close with all of them. With all of them together, when we join for holidays or get togethers, there is always laughter, stories, and memories shared. Yeah, we have family members who don’t make it to everything, just like yours, but we still all have conversations here and there (thanks to technology these days.) After my grandma died on this side of the family, I feel as if we got even closer and as of last summer when my grandpa passed away, we got closer. My grandparents raised my ten aunts and uncles, and when I spent time with them too when they were around, I could see the love they shared with each other and that they taught there kids to have. They loved people, especially there big family, and created a family some people wish they had. I could go on and on but the point I am getting at after reading your story, is that I am blessed with the family and relatives I grew up with both on my dad and mom’s side. My grandparents were definitely the heart of the familly. Thanks again for sharing.

  • jack lomax

    Glad to see that you’ve begin to focus on moving forward at this point Mark. Very healthy thing to do. Like you said, you weren’t in a position anymore where you could change the relationship with your dad unfortunately, but you were still in a position to change the relationships that were available to you. Leaving the past is easier said than done, and it shouldn’t entirely be left behind because it has shaped you into the person you are today, but its good that at this point you aren’t entirely dwelling on it and it sounds like you are ready to make a change for the good.

  • Tkachukme11

    “The family is the country of the heart” is such a beautiful quote so thank you for sharing that. Everything I do is driven by my family. I come from a large family and my parents come from big families so I am surrounded by a huge support system. Everyone keeps telling me to get away since I am finishing college but am scared to be so far away from my family. Do you think I will regret not going somewhere or still be satisfied that I am close to my family?

  • Utika Chindanon

    Thank you for sharing this article, Mark. I can’t even imagine when I will lose someone so close to me. I lost my both grandparents from mother and father sides since I was so young or not even born yet, so I can’t recall any moment of my family retreat that has affected me but I have seen it happen in others’ lives. However, when my family and my cousins from my mother’s side get together, it always fun and we always have such great memories. My mother has been growing up with one brother and seven sisters and she is the third from the last. She grew up in countryside in Thailand with all these siblings. Now they all have kids and lived separately with their families, but we still keep in touch and have dinner together every Sunday night. With all of them together, when we join for holidays or get together, there is always laughter, stories, and memories shared. Even though, I have been living far away from them for nearly 6 years but we still talk to each other on LINE application every single day and we still keep in touch to each other.

  • lepkowskjj29

    I agree that is a great quote. I myself come from a very big family and am always supported by them.

  • Jcoppa

    I think leaving is healthy for personal growth! You’ll always have your family a phone call away, and Skype is a great way to feel closer to your family when you can’t get time for a trip home. It’s nice to explore the world, you will never find yourself by staying in the same place your entire life. That is what you will regret! And if your family loves you, they’ll always be your safety net if you ever decide to come home!

  • Tkachukme11

    And that is totally what i am learning towards at this moment. I just feel bad because I have been away from them the past four years and can tell they are excited for me to be moving home with them for now. But then I hear, when people do travel, they usually like staying in that state so then I could possibly be permanently away from all of my family and extended family in wisconsin. I just need to go with the flow though.

  • Tkachukme11

    It is such an awesome feeling to have! I am blessed every day because of them. I look at other families and just wish i could help them experience what family should truly mean to someone.

  • Jcoppa

    They’ll understand you need to experience your life, they’re your family. I plan on moving to Colorado once I graduate and though my family expected me to come home after school, they are so excited for me to follow my dreams. Lots of people never follow their dreams, solely out of fear of failure, or leaving their family, or whatever it may be. I’m sure those people will regret that decision forever.

  • Tkachukme11

    And I don’t want to be that person to regret anything. Not the way that I want to live life. That is so awesome of you to be moving out there! Do you have a job lined up or you are just going because you want to explore and hope to find something?

  • Jcoppa

    I know a company that has expanded to Colorado that I used to work for. I have a good feeling that they’ll take me once I come out there. Plus, Colorado has a huge demand for Wellness Managers. That’s ideal. But, it’s Colorado and I’m 21… I’d be happy living in a hippie van, barefoot, playing guitar for money downtown. I saw that when I visited Ft. Collins, and I just saw myself there. Not necessarily as the hippie girl, but the energy in CO is so different than what I’ve ever seen in WI.

  • Leahrebout

    I have a very large extended family and we all got together and went away for a weekend. It was a very loud couple of days to say the least and we didn’t always get along, but it definitely brought us closer together! It taught me that even when I feel like I want to escape my family, they will ALWAYS be there for me to return to and I don’t think I could be gone for too long anyways. Since then I’ve learned to really appreciate family get togethers and have been trying to take advantage of all the time we have together. 🙂

  • Dolly Chan

    Mark, thank you for sharing this article. I have a family retreat maybe once a year or in two years. Currently I only see my family once a year because I live in the States while they’re back at home. They make it a priority that if I do come back, we will have a family gathering or trips. I find myself acting differently at these retreats nowadays because I come to realize the importance of spending time with them. Before living apart from them, I would prioritize other things before. However, now that I only have limited amounts of days that I see them per year, during these retreats I’m more appreciative of the time I can spend with them. I think that not only me, but as my brother, sister, and cousins grew older, we became closer to each other and make it a priority to attend these retreats. Especially when a loss happens in the family, everyone realizes that anything can happen at anytime. I’m thankful that my family members forgive each other for wrong doings and try their best to keep tight as a family.

  • LevenhagAL14

    I haven’t exactly been a part of a family retreat, but about 2 years ago we had a family reunion. I have 12 aunts and uncles, all of them with their own families, so it was quite the experience to have all of my family together at the same time. For most of us, it was our first time meeting each other. What I learned though is that the Levenhagen spirit lives in all of us: everyone was open, friendly, passionate, and caring. We all seemed to connect on a deeper level, even though it was the first time we had all come together (besides for a funeral or a wedding). With family all over the country, everyone had their own stories to share and different things to discuss. It was just a remarkable experience to be completely accepted by strangers, it felt as if I had known everyone for my entire life just because of how friendly people were. I hadn’t expected that. I almost expected there to be an outlier, a stereotypical grumpy uncle or the drunk cousin. It was a remarkable experience and I’ll never forget that day.

  • schrammjm26

    There is nothing more important to me than family. I want to be successful because I want to be able to take care of my parents when they retire as well as they have taken care of me. Grant it my Dad’s retirement fund is extremely good but I still would like to have the ability to help if need be. Family reunions are something I think that everyone cherishes. Both sides of my family live about two hours away in Illinois, however they are also all neighbors. This basically means when we go to visit one family member we can go across the street and see the rest of the family. One day I hope that I can have the same type of arrangement with my parents and my children where they can just walk 20 meters down the street to see their grandparents.

  • Matthew Gust

    I would agree completely. Sometimes I find it a lot harder to forgive myself for the actions I have done. At least in my experience it is a lot easier for give others sometimes, but when it comes to yourself that is an entirely different story. The quicker you move on and let it go the better.

  • Isn’t that wonderful? In some parts of the world, a man’s “success” is measured by how close he lives to his family, particularly his mother. How do you keep a family so geographically close in this ‘global’ world?

  • What a great time to share together and what a wonderful retreat. What is it that binds your family together when so many others have infighting and fall apart?

  • With so many families infighting, Dolly, how does your family seem to find forgiveness more easily? Glad that your being away makes you appreciate them more, doesn’t it? Thank you for sharing.

  • Do you think the distance makes the ‘heart grow fonder’, Utika, it would it be easier and you’d be as ‘close’ to everyone if you didn’t live away these 6 years? Did you feel this way 6 years ago?

  • Everyone is different but if you read some of the comments above, it seems that distance can help, at least for a period of time, really make you appreciate your family, and draw closer. It gives you another perspective. What do you think? (And I think you should do what your heart tells you, and don’t worry about what everyone else says – learn from them, but then back to what you feel.)

  • Go with your gut 🙂

  • We love to have you around, giving you ‘wings to fly,’ but do want you to follow your dreams. Just hope to see you as often as possible. That’s the parent in me talking 🙂

  • Fort Collins is a great town. I love spending time at UC State, and enjoy the more relaxed pace up there.

  • What does it mean: always ‘supported’ by them? How do they support you? And how do you know if its enough or too much, stunting your growth and ‘independence’?

  • Brittney Glende

    I agree with you Mark, A man’s “success” is measured by how close he lives to his family and even how close he is to his mother. I love when a guy is extremely close to his mom. It proves that he was brought up very well. How my family and I keep very close is that we try to at least call once a day and we always end with saying more than the world. This is something that my dad started with us since we were babies it is a very meaningful line to my brothers and I. There has not been a week where we didn’t talk once. It is so important to keep up with communication in your family. Thats what keeps us close 🙂

  • In one sentence can you share what family should mean to us?

  • And soon we will go into my Dad’s past, Jack, so I can move into the future. As said in one of my earlier book sections, “You may be through with the past but the past ain’t through with you.” Thanks for the support!

  • Give them all a hug for me! Do you have, in a big family like yours, more of a culture of taking care of each other, do you think, than smaller families? Does the size of your family and folks’ families help you bond more? What part of the world do you live in, and is this more the norm there?

  • So what helps you be a little kinder to yourself, Matthew? What helps you forgive you?

  • That is the point: how do you want to spend this precious time you have been given? It goes quickly but it is your choice how you spend it. As I asked in the title of an earlier post, I too was faced with whether to turn to ‘darkness or light’. Point well made. Thank you.

  • When you say ‘we didn’t always get along’ seems like that helped bind you together, knowing that you can ‘fight’ but you are still family, still holding hands, together, forever?

  • The past becomes more interesting as we age, I’d say. What is one example, Angela, of that insight helping you understand how you act at certain times, in certain ways?

  • schrammjm26

    My Mom and Dad grew up in the same town and it just so happened that their families lived on the same block. My parents siblings on both sides rented apartments at first when they got married and started their careers. When a house opened up on my grandparents block they would buy it and renovate it to the way they wanted it. It really works out great because my dad and all my uncles have good jobs, so my mom and all my aunts were all able to stay home and raise the kids. My parents were the only ones that didn’t stay in Kings Cove (name of the area they live) just because everything is 10x as expensive there so they moved an hour away where my Dad works. It’s funny when I was young I thought all families were like that, it wasn’t until I got older that I realized that I was so fortunate to have all my family so close!

  • Wow! My grandparents generation was like that, too. So what is the ‘special sauce’ that has kept your family in such close physical proximity?

  • Absolutely. That ritual, that practice each week, whether short or long, gives you a stability and security in your relationship. And yes, seeing how a guy treats his mom also indicates how he will treat you as the years go on, Brittney. That’s what I and my wife tell our daughters 🙂

  • schrammjm26

    Truthfully I think its due to the success my mad uncles have had in their careers. One owns his own business, another is a CFO, another a salesman. They all either have the ability to control their own schedule or have been successful enough to relocate within their companies or switch companies to allow them to be within such close proximity to one another. Speaking as a college student who is graduating let me tell you a lot of my friends and I consider ourselves lucky if we get placed within two hours of where we want. I suppose it just comes down to how bad you want it. You have to establish yourself before you get the privilege of relocating to your ideal location I suppose. I’m going into sales so I’m in a situation similar to that. To answer your question though I believe there successful careers and connections allowed them to gain priority about where they are located over others that may have wanted the location.

  • laurenkraft

    Haha! I say that to my dad all the time. I also say “I never knew you had hair!” 🙂 he doesn’t think that is funny

  • Andersonjc16

    I am just like everyone else and of course family is very import to me and would be their for anyone at a moments notice. Family has given me a lot. The drive i have to succeed and the support i have needed over the years and as i grow older the roles often change.

  • Tkachukme11

    Then I feel like I am definitely going to give it a chance. At least you aren’t afraid to tell me that I can go off and explore, whereas my mom would be crying to much to say yes. I know they both support me no matter what I do.

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    Whatever your definition of family is, one thing is common they are important to most people. No matter what you go through in life, they are there to guide you support you. You may not get along with every relative but you love them nonetheless. Without my family I do not know where I would be in life but I am glad to have them. More time with your family should be allocated into our busy schedules but with time maybe that change will occur. Thanks for the article Mark!

  • Palecekb

    This is wonderful, it is beautiful to see that instead of sharing your hurt feelings and anger to someone who seems to look up to you, you moved positively forward with it in search of discovering more of your father.

  • Dolly Chan

    Hi Mark, for my family, I think it all comes down to my parents, aunts, and uncle realizing that everyone has a limited time on earth. They don’t want their last memories to be one that is bad and I think they especially don’t want their children to carry the burden of a rift between the older generation

  • clemonsel02

    Honestly this is one of the most enlightening articles I have ever read. I think that your family is your rock at least in my case they are. I think having them to share your feelings with can e helpful. They help me to strive for everything I want out of life. Do you think most people feel this way?

  • Most people would like to say this, but almost everyone suffers through various dysfunctions. Infighting occurs in most families, and ‘support’ takes on different meanings for different families. Being a ‘rock,’ being ‘supported’ by your family. What does that mean to you?

  • Yes, and discovering more about myself, don’t you think? Every search in some way is a search for ourselves, for understanding the meaning of our lives and how we fit into this big universe. The ‘father quest’ is another way of getting at that, would you agree?

  • Time with each other is so important and as we age, that can get harder until our parents reach the end of their lives. What will you do, Lex, to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, that your busy schedule still keeps your parents and family as a real priority–not just one that you say is a priority, but your actions, your decisions don’t support it. Can you help us with a few tips?

  • How do those roles change? Love to hear what you think, as really important point (at least to me, who calls himself a ‘consultant’ to his children in their mid-20s).

  • Money gives you the freedom to focus on what’s important to you, is the message I get here. That’s a great use of money – liberation. Not ‘freedom from’ but ‘freedom to’. Great points here. Thank you!

  • In your culture, which I’m assuming is East Asian, ancestors have great importance–more than in many cultures. It is wonderful when this tradition, these memories, are developed in a positive way, Dolly, that help you find your way and live the kind of life with the type of work you yearn for. Has your family support allowed you this kind of path in life?

  • That’s great. So why is your mom crying? Tears of joy, I hope, of you growing up, mixed with sadness, because you are growing up?

  • Rule #1: Do not tease men about their hair or women about their weight. I saw a professor not get a tenured position at a school because he teased one of the deciding committee members during the year about his bald head. Stick with his weight 🙂

  • MeierKM23

    Hello Mark! I am from Wisconsin and my grandparents raised my mom and aunts and uncles all here in southern (and rural) Wisconsin! I would have to say yes! My grandpa and grandma were a really special couple and although we were all close before they passed, I think we are all even closer afterwards as well. I think there are more opportunities for getting together and helping each other out whenever need be. It seems to be kind of a norm around here and our small farming communities but I would hope that it is a norm all around the world, taking care and being with your family. I know it is not for everyone though, and I am very blessed but we definitely all have a bond, a different one with each relative! We do though, like yours, have relatives that live across the country and don’t make it to everything and that is why when I read your blog, I thought it was relatable and interesting to talk about. Thanks again for sharing! Give your family a hug as well!

  • Makes sense, and thank you for sharing. With so much moving around these days, we see lots of families breaking down, lots of millennials put their friends ahead of their families, and everyone seems to be ‘too busy.’ So it is wonderful to come from a community and live in that community where family is the foundation of everyone’s life and the top priority.

  • MeierKM23

    Yes and I have learned to be very grateful! Thank you for sharing your stories! I love reading them!

  • Go Badgers!

  • Palecekb

    yes, you are discovering part of not only you but your father. I feel I could do some more soul searching as well, your past article set me up to some thinking, the one about being here to be kind and serve. I have thought a lot about it and this too causes me to reflect exactly who I am and the impact I have on others like Jake in your own life.

  • MeierKM23


  • That’s wonderful to hear. I love writing, but if it doesn’t lead to action one reader at a time, than it really isn’t ‘successful’ in my eyes. Love to hear where you come out in your soul searching. My ‘soul’ will begin searching not in the next post, but from there after. Will look forward to hearing what you are up to 🙂

  • Palecekb

    Thank you, and I look forward to reading them!


    Thank you for posting this article. I cannot agree you more that the family plays an important role in our life. I have studied abroad since the age of 19. In these four years, I face different varieties of challenges, but I still can overcome every time because I alway get support from my sweet family. Even though I can not talk to them face to face, a phone call is enough to cheer me up.

  • Hey, do you want to help me write them? 🙂 (Law of comparative advantage, from my other response to you 🙂

  • What is it they do for you that works as ‘support’ from your ‘sweet’ family — a beautiful word as well, rarely used in this context, ‘sweet’? What is so special about how they support you, in your eyes? (Also, excuse me if this is inappropriate, and I understand ‘Zhang’ is a common Chinese surname, but I have to ask: Are you related to Ziyi Zhang?

  • Palecekb

    yes, haha I will do the typing while you do the thinking.

  • Josh Pritchard

    I couldn’t agree more! I keep in touch with my family every week. Being as far from home as I am, it is nice to hear from everyone. I mainly keep in contact with my mom though. I can always get a hold of her and I tell her everything.

  • BartuchGR11

    Thank you for posting this blog. I found it very beneficial and I do think that family support is very important. Your family will always be there for you no matter what. I agree that family is such a important apart of some ones life. They make us who we are as individuals and keep us grounded. Its also important to spend time with your family because life is short and you never know when someone is your family can be taken from you.

  • Keeli Gilbert

    This comment was so well put, I want to copy it and send it to Mark as well. I will not do this though because they are your own words, but I would like to say that I really liked that you noticed that Mark had the strength to “change the relationships that were available to him.” And I agree with you that letting the past go is so much easier said then done, but it is necessary. There is a time and place to grieve and mourn but then there has to be a point where it ends because they would never want you to be upset for the rest of your life. They would want you to live your life to the best of your ability, with them in mind, possibly. I also agree that it is good that Mark is strong enough to let go of what he can and move on to a better period in his life.
    And thank you Mark for sharing your story! Stay strong. It does get better!

  • Alexandra Helena Marie Nicolof

    As a response to your featured comment, my mother and I recently visited my brother together in San Diego. We stayed for a total of 16 days, and since I haven’t spent a lot of quality time with her since I’ve moved out, I was weary of how it was going to end. We ended up having a blast, and I don’t know if it had something to do with being stress free, but we got along better than ever. We clicked in a way that I never thought would happen, and since we’ve arrived home I feel that our relationship has continued to flourish. Thank you for the thought-provoking question.

  • Yes, so I hope that you and others reading this will take that little extra time — like on Mother’s day — to visit and spend time with family. What actions will you take?

  • Thank you for sharing, Alexandra, again. 16 days is a looooong time. You two must be very close now. That’s just wonderful. Until you become a parent — not pushing you! — it’s hard to understand what it is like to have your heart walking around outside your body, called your ‘daughter.’ So good for you, and wish Mom a happy Mother’s day for me!

  • Max Rude

    I had a retreat about 6 years ago. After that two weeks of camping my family was the closes it had ever been. So i agree with you completely. Now the sad thing is that my family has been drifting apart sense then. I never would have thought that these retreats would help so much, but now looking at it they help so much.

  • Slepicka12

    Thank you for a lovely post. My family have not been on a formal family retreat but more like going on a vacation with no electronics. We spent 4 days together in California just spending quality family time. I have never felt so close to my family like I did on that vacation. Ever since that trip we like todo mini weekend trips to different places just to bring us closer together.

  • I hear you, Max. Why do you think these retreats make such a difference? And why not a second retreat?

  • Tell me about the ‘no electronics’ if you don’t mind. Have you thought of doing it at other times?

  • Slepicka12

    when we went on this vacation we turned off our phones, laptops, ipad and whatever else we had brought along with us and kept them packed away through out our whole trip just so we could enjoy each others company. And since than we have done this kind of vacation a few other times.

  • Need to do that on our June retreat with our daughters. How do you get everyone to do it? We’ve tried without success with our mid-20something girls.

  • Slepicka12

    My parents just keep us really busy with different activities, museums, zoo’s, art galleries, and any other interesting activities that is offered.

  • Max Rude

    It gives a time for a family to finally really connect, when we went on this trip no one in my family had cell phones and wifi was not around. this gave us the ability to really spend true time with each others. to answer your second question would be money and time restraints.

  • Keep you busy. Hmmm… We thought a little differently. Helpful. Thank you.

  • What are the time constraints now, or is it just not as vital as before to have a retreat, Max?

  • Juhno Mann

    My family is a big part of what motivates me. Struggling financially growing up, I saw the importance of having a family over material things. When I needed help with someone or someone to talk to my family was always there. Other friends got everything they could ask for growing up, but they had bad relationships with their families which didn’t make them happy. Moving forward in my life I remember all of this and although I don’t want my family to struggle financially, I will instill the same values in my family as my parents did in me growing up.

  • Do you think it is easier, Juhno, to raise children and have good relationships with them when you don’t have money than when you do have money, and maybe feel you want to give them a better (material) life than you had?

  • Summer Vacations coming up. How are you/will you, act this year as a family? What can we learn from you?

  • JeremyWahl

    My family is a pretty big part of what motivates me and who pushed me into the field that i am studying. Without that push i dont know if i would have pushed myself. Talking and having deep conversations always happened on vacation whether it be out of the country or to our cabin. Communication has always been a big part of finding out what and where people are doing and going in their future. We haven’t had a vacation in a couple years, and my family hasn’t had one of those deep conversations since then. I think being away from all of the electronics makes you realize the people around you. I think in the future i am going to put down my phone and put my computer away and have one of those talks.

  • Yes, those electronics often make us look to connect ‘over there’ and forget about what/who is right in front of us. We are driven often by our search for adventure and intimacy. Intimacy is difficult and at times scary, but no better than to have it within a family. Family is a way of holding hands with forever. ‘Family’ is not a noun, but a verb. We need to keep putting in, too. Thanks for your comment, Jeremy.

  • Andrew Bliefernicht

    Both sides of my family do not usually partake in family reunions. If one side did have one it would be my fathers because nearly my Mothers entire family is still in my hometown. Occasionally my dads side meets up with each other, but it is never on a regular basis. When we do get to see them it’s a fun occasion! We have a good time remembering old times and talking about what we have gone through recent. It’s cool to hear about my cousins who I swear were just in college, are married and having another kid and another cousin getting married. It’s always amazing to me seeing all my family members growing up as well as I am!

  • JeremyWahl

    My family is a pretty big part of what motivates me and who pushed me into the field that i am studying. Without that push i dont know if i would have pushed myself. Talking and having deep conversations always happened on vacation whether it be out of the country or to our cabin. Communication has always been a big part of finding out what and where people are doing and going in their future. We haven’t had a vacation in a couple years, and my family hasn’t had one of those deep conversations since then. I think being away from all of the electronics makes you realize the people around you. I think in the future i am going to put down my phone and put my computer away and have one of those talks.

  • Yes, Andrew. Just keeping in touch and watching them grow keeps you in contact and together, so when you do want to connect at a deeper level, the foundation is there. Wonderful happenings.

  • I believe I already responded to this post, which somehow got reposted, I believe. If I’m wrong, please respond again and I will take a look. Thank you, Jeremy.

  • HelpHealth002

    Thanks for writing this article Mark. I think this is a great for anybody going through a family issue to read because it can help bring them hope that things will get better. I agree with the quote that “Hurt people, hurt people” because I’ve experienced that firsthand. Somebody very close to me had been hurting for many years with no relief. I didn’t know how to help him because he didn’t accept any help. He ended up pushing others away because of his own hurt, causing others turmoil as well. It’s a hard situation when you have an unhappy person trying to take others down with them. What is your advice for others if they have a close friend or family member who they want to help, but keep getting put down along with them?

  • Carly Konkol

    Thanks, HelpHealth002. I also agree and love the quote, “hurt people, hurt people.” I always try to remember this when I feel as though I am being pushed away or shunned by someone I care about. We often times cannot feel what they feel, so it’s hard to understand their actions and easier to become upset with them. I remember when I was going through some really rough times in high school and I would lash out at my parents, saying and doing hurtful things, even though I have always loved them. They continued to support me and never gave up on me. So, if I had any advice to you, it would be to never give up. You may have to take a step back every once in awhile, but if you were in their position, you’d hope that someone would never give up on you, and deep down somewhere, they are hoping the same thing.

  • Garrett Nelson

    Thank you for the article Mark! Coming from a large family (not all immediate, but with over 50 people just on my mom’s side), it is interesting to gather with all of them throughout the year, either at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or simply for a sporting event. Every time there is an event, I wonder, who will I get to see and have a deep conversation with today. It always seems to change from one event to the next, and one year to the next. It is an extremely weird, interesting, but familiar experience to see the changes in the young kids that we once were as well (coming from a 21 year old college kid). Seeing my young cousins and nephews makes me think back to my early years when I was just a boy, remembering how simple things seemed to feel. I like the part of your story when you say how ‘young’ Jake asks you questions, with simple curiosity, and no judgment, which I think is relevant in many other families including mine. A question for Mark, as we age and get older, see more things, experience more things, witness new cultures; do you believe this sort of stimulates our minds to judge one another more and create stereotypes in our heads based on previous things we’ve seen or been told? Why is it that children seem to have less of a judgmental mind than older teens and adults? Thanks again!

  • You have to meet people where they are, not where you are. You can only help so much and it is important to know how much and what kind of help they are prepared to accept. Often as well, what you think may not be helping enough or at all is more than enough at that time for that person, in my experience.

  • Good analysis of the situation, Carly. Just knowing you care, and ‘never giving up’, means a lot to most people and does more good than you may ever know.

  • Yes, Garrett, I think as we age we bring more of that past to each situation, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand the experience can be helpful. On the other hand, it can bias us to not get a clear look at what is happening and too quickly judge or categorize it, thus often missing an opportunity. When we are young, we are more of a blank slate, and, as have had less particularly ‘negative’ experiences, seem more open to listen and learn, and then react.

  • CoachDavis24

    My family is not close. I don’t communicate much with my cousins, aunts or uncles. I don’t even see them every year during the holidays. I am pretty close with some of my family (sisters, mom, and dad). We’ve never been good at staying close with the rest of the family. I don’t need a whole lot of family. I need to have really great and supportive family. I need just a couple, really close friends and family in my life. I haven’t pushed any of my family away, we have all just drifted our own seperate ways. It’s hard to stay close with a lot of people, even with all the new technology. I’m happy with the family that is close to me and that is the way I like it.

  • Alex Prailes

    My family is very very close. Just recently my immediate family had gotten into a fight with my extended family, thankfully we all made up. Being without people who do not support and care for you makes life much harder. Having a good family (or friends that may be considered family) allows you to be supported in all that you do. Without my family I would not be where I am without their love and endless support.

  • “I don’t need a whole lot of family. I need to have really great and supportive family. I need just a couple, really close friends and family in my life.” It’s true that it is hard to stay close to a lot of people, but can there be too much family? If so, why is that?

  • Do fights involve money, Alex? If so, how did they resolve it. Seems like your overall closeness contributed to weathering a storm, eh?

  • Alex Prailes

    No, we usually fight about missing each other. Which seems silly when I write it, but sometimes you fight with the people you love to show them you care. It’s a silly way to show them you care, but when feelings are involved sometimes you don’t always think right.

  • Not silly at all. You don’t fight with people you don’t care about, do you? Why waste the energy. Thank you, Alex.

  • Travis Mattice

    I like that, “can there be too much family?”. I feel like that is a tough question to answer. I think it all depends on how close you are to them. For example maybe you have some personal issues you are going through and you want the help and support from your immediate family but just something you don’t want the rest of them to know. Could be that they are just super intrusive and judgmental. I think that in a situation like this, there could be such things as “too much family”. But that’s just me.

  • Useful perspective. I agree 100%. Never thought of it that way, but you’re right. Thanks, Travis.

  • sauerm29

    I find the conversation between Mark and Jake to be very interesting. They both have questions and are searching for answers. Jake is looking to Mark and it seems that this is helping Mark to find his own answers, or at least pushing him to search them out in a location he thinks they may be.

  • earose14

    My family is close but at times not close enough. Now that both my brother and I are in college we barely are ever home so its rare for us all four to be together. Obviously on holidays and other occasions we all come together but after reading this few articles it seems family should come together more often. The closer you are to your family the fewer the arguments. Its not common in either my dad or moms side of the family for there to be fights that dont instantly get resolved. Mostly everyone cares equally for everyone in the family and thats what makes families have close relationships. Without family and the support they have shown me I wouldnt be where I am today. We as a family accept many into our family whether blood or not, but is that always a good thing to do? Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks – unfortunately, writing about that conversation – sanitized as I wrote it – still caused issues in my family when it was published. So it goes. Glad you enjoyed it, and found your perspective (helping me answer) one I hadn’t thought of.

  • Is it always a good thing? What should families ‘accept’ or not accept? What does it depend on?

  • Taylor Schaeffer

    Like I said in a comment on another one of your articles my swim team is a big family. Every year we take a 14 day trip to train as a team somewhere warm over winter break. This trip brings us closer together, we do everything together and it gives us time to talk to some of the teammates we don’t usually talk to. Sometimes by the end it is a little bit hard because people are on edge after spending so much time with the same people and having really no break but overall it is a great team bonding experience.

  • I hear you, Taylor. I have two nephews and a niece who have been swimming since they were about 4 or 5, seven days a week. They even got full college scholarships to swim and did well. They were (and still in college, my niece) very close to their swim team members, socialized with them, and still keep in touch though now dispersed. A great bonding experience indeed.

  • Taylor Schaeffer

    Thank you for replying to all my comments (I know there were a lot) I appreciate it very much!!

  • I do my best. I am posting this part of my next book on Unreasonable primarily to get feedback from millennials on what they connect with and think about family, as expressed in this book and commentary about family and empathy. I appreciate your contributions, and spread the word. The more readers the merrier. Now if I can just find someone to help me get a separate website going to collect these thoughts with my other 200 + articles and 7 books! Thank you.

  • Taylor

    I will most definitely spread the word! I am fairly new to unreasonable and you are the first writer to actually reply to my comments and I think it is pretty cool especially because the things you have written are some of my favorite posts.

  • Shaquille Boswell-Downey

    Ive been out of town with my family to visit my grandmother and it was fun. There wasn’t many resources that we have up north in the south so we had to find a more natural way to bond. There was no service from our cell phones and the internet took forever to load so we never bothered to connect. So we cooked, played games, walked outside by the pond and just got to know each other more. We also went Christmas shopping, put up the tree. Did the things we used to do years ago before all the technology. It was refreshing because i really got to see who i have been living with these past years instead of the strangers i always mess with and see 24/7.

  • Much thanks, Taylor. You can also reach me directly at Spreading the word helps us create a community that can support you in your career and life choices.

  • So true. My wife comments on a time she and I and our two girls went away and when we got to our cabin, immediately went to three corners of the living room and got on our electronic devices. The next trip we took was up a mountain – no reception. We hiked together, played board games (remember those?), and had a great bonding experience. Thanks for sharing, Shaquille.

  • CoachDavis24

    I think time is the biggest reason. Even with all the newest technology and social media, it’s still really time consuming to stay close to too many people. Now, some people love having family and spend a lot of time with family and are really close with the majority of their family. Others, like me, have lots of other interests and passions that I don’t have the time and/or energy to keep up with a lot of peoples lives. I enjoy the company of a few people and that’s the way I like it.

  • Schudakp21

    I don’t know about a family retreat but I have gone on a family vacation. About ten years ago or so, my father worked in Salt Lake City, Utah. So during summer break, my family drove out there from Chicago and stayed with him for a month. At that point, us kids were fairly young so whenever we went somewhere the whole family went with. No man left behind. Also no one had their own computer or cell phone so basically we were always communicating with each other or doing some activity together. We were always together so we became even closer as a family. I have always cherished that vacation and what it has done for our family.

  • Yes, and hopefully they like it too 🙂 Thanks for your reply.

  • No electronics helps, doesn’t it? Great to have that Salt Lake experience. A bond for life.

  • Schudakp21

    The no electronics on my vacation really helped us bond as a family. Now, whenever we go on a vacation or even when we are just together at home as a family, the room is so much more quiet because everyone is either watching television, on their phones, or on their laptops in their own world. Its not my family’s fault, its just that we have adapted with society in this ever growing world of technology. But yes I would love to have another experience like the one we had in Salt Lake City.

  • I need to bring your lesson to my family and our times together. With children well into their 20s, it gets difficult and no electronics would really help, I think.

  • Schudakp21

    Yeah, all of us kids are in are 20s as well and now you can’t see us for a half an hour without some sort of electronic in front of us. I would really recommend at least trying to bond without electronics for a little bit because then you can either play a game together or even just has a nice conversation. I really do believe that your bond as a family will get stronger and would recommend it for every family to try.

  • I agree. Will try. Thank you!

  • Slepicka12

    Thank you for this article it really got me thinking about my family. We don’t go on retreats as a family but we do go on vacations where we have to spend 90% of the time paying attention to the family and not electronics. I like spending time with our family because it brings us closer together.

  • Slepicka12

    My extended family always gets into silly fights about not visiting each other enough or not seeing my grandma enough.

  • What kind of things do you do together that you feel really brings you closest together?

  • Slepicka12

    We vacation in California a lot. And just doing fun activity together really brings us closer. Like this past summer my brother and I went snorkeling out in the ocean and spent hours out there just looking at the fish and bonding out the great experience.

  • We too love to snorkel and dive together. It is a great experience having the ocean/nature to promote bonding simply as human beings.

  • Carly Konkol

    I’m going through a situation like this with my roommate. She is in a really unhealthy relationship and sometimes she will take it out on me. Althought it’s hurtful, I understand where she is coming from because I have been in a relationship like that and have probably treated my friends the same way. All I can do is be there for her and let her vent to me when she needs. When she realizes he is not the one, she will look back on this and remember me for always being there and I find great comfort in that.

  • Andrew Bliefernicht

    I absolutely agree with the watching them grow. I have been in a relationship for over a year now and I have become very close to her family as well. There are very young children in that family (a few under the age of 5) and in this past year I have seen them grow and get comfortable to me and play with me when I visit. Every time I don’t come to a family outing not only do the adults ask about me, but the kids ask where I am. Makes me really feel a part of the family!

  • Mature of you. Our youngest daughter had a boy friend for 18 months who was a terrible influence on her (and, as we found out later, even hit her on 3 occasions). She even stole from our bank account, and I could go on and on. She broke up with him in May and since then has been an incredibly wonderful daughter, better than ever. Sometimes you just have to hang in there. Again, that’s why family is forever, and friends are very lucky if you can be as forgiving as you, Carly.

  • The problem comes when (if) you and the girl break up, Andrew, but you still adore the family! I had a girlfriend for 3 years in college and loved her mom (dad deceased), her younger sister and older brother. Friends for life. It was tough when we broke up because I saw her family much less, but still kept in touch. Good luck! At least enjoy all the great times now, and maybe…. 🙂

  • Bill Alsobrook

    I read this article with a bit of a heavy heart. I had a fairly idyllic childhood, and a great relationship with all my cousins and family members, especially my brother, we would go on family vacations and trips, my family endeavored to give me experiences rather than things, a tradition that I have continued with my daughter. Something happened though, something changed between me and my brother, I cant put my finger on what exactly it was or where it happened but he seems to hate me now. I can honestly say I feel closer to my comrades in arms than my own brother. It would seem that the author has experienced something along those same lines.

  • Katelyn Vaughn

    In my family, vacations and retreats do not come around often. Mostly because it is hard for my family of five to afford them, especially since my twin sister and I are both in college at the same time. Growing up, we had family dinners every night where we would gather around the table and talk about our day, funny memories, and our future aspirations. We still enjoy family dinners when we are all in town at the same time. Sundays were also days that were to be spent with family. We would all wake up and go to church and follow that with Sunday lunch. All our times together were technology free and even today my parents are very strict on the “no technology” rule when we are have family dinners. I think being able to gather around the kitchen table with my sisters and parents each night and spending time with them on Sundays has impacted me in a positive way. It has taught me the importance of family and real communication. I hope to someday sit down with my own family and have the same experiences with them that I have with my immediate family.

  • I think we have all been through a similar experience, Bill. The question is how do you resurrect that relationship? The only way I know is it starts with honest face-to-face (don’t use email) communication (or at least via phone). Try to find out what is going on – you may learn some things you never thought of about your family, brother and even yourself. I did. 🙂

  • Bill Alsobrook

    Already tried everything you have suggested

  • SkylerZahner

    This article pertains very much so to many of our lives I am sure. However all of our families are definitely different and therefore engage in different ways. Personally I have two sets of cousins both of which act in completely different ways. One set of my cousins is fun and roudy and loves to argue with one another about almost everything. Although all they do is argue they know truthfully deep down family is family no matter what the difference may be. The other side of my family is more reserved and very quiet opinionated. They do not discuss politics or argue very much and seem to keep to themselves while also knowing family is family. I guess what I am saying is no matter how a family may function on trips or whenever you are around one another there is true love and happiness that backs up anything that is going on.

  • I think the ‘technology free’ is such a big plus, Katelyn. Good practice to carry with your family, as you said, and at times, with friends today. Thank you for sharing.

  • It’s ultimately all about the love, isn’t is? No matter how it is expressed, it’s all good.

  • ClaytonEI08

    I loved the article. It takes me back to the days my mother, grandmother, brothers and I use to load up the car every weekend from late march up until the beginning of august and travel all around the nation for basketball tournaments. This was before we all had our own cellphones, so each others company is all we had to rely on and I must say, it made us into a much tighter family. When we weren’t out of town somewhere, we’d spend every Sunday at the dinner table together, eat and talk as a family. I really miss those days, but I also look forward to reliving these memories when I have my own family one day.

  • Thank you for sharing. The cellphone has had many effects, many in my opinion negative but not like other inventions, like central heat and air conditioning. Without CH, people all sat around the central fire in their home and chatted, without AC people spent summers on their porch outside, talking to neighbors as they walked by. What will this generation do to keep personal intimacy in an age developing more tools that don’t promote such relationships?

  • ClaytonEI08

    I never thought about it like that as far as the Central heat and air conditioning. That’s a good point. But I feel as though the cell phone is the biggest distraction of all. I actually found myself people watching in the mall this past weekend, and it’s amazing to see how almost everybody was walking right past each other without looking up to see what was going on around them or to see who was around them for they were so engaged in whatever it is was they had going on in their cellphone at the time. They could have literally walked by God himself and not even had noticed. Scary.

  • Yes, while recognizing the positives, my least favorite invention. Changing fundamentally how we relate to each other.

  • milkienr18

    I think it is so important for families to get together and catch up with each other. THis story reminds me of my own family. Once a year we al go up to a cabin and spend the week together. It is something i look forward too every year. Last summer in particular was a good one because around the fire we had some deep conversations and some feelings were released and i knew i wasn’t alone. I think it is just so important that more families take the opportunity to catch up with each other.

  • And do so while putting the electronics away, eh? Does your family make you put your cellphones, etc. away so you can focus on each other?

  • Tom Ashmus

    I love this article because I agree wholeheartedly. Too many families in today’s age don’t spend enough time together. Some parents don’t even know their own child. Ive heard too many stories of kids that lie to their parents about things such as where they are living or if they are enrolled in school or not. I feel that secrets like this are impossible in a close family.

  • Tom Ashmus

    I agree, All families are different and express love in different ways. The only thing that matters is that we are there for each other and truly care for each other. You don’t have to always be together and fun loving to be a good family.

  • Desiree

    Now a days families don’t spend a lot of time together and for some of friends they have a family but aren’t actually apart of it. its really sad to see how kids now treat their parents and don’t cherish what they have. I had one of my friends sleep over and she came around dinner time and she told me after that it was weird we all sat with each other eating and talking and i thought all families did that, but it shows how some families don’t have that connection. We went mini retreats, for awhile my whole entire family would to Hayward, WI and stay in a cabins for like a week and it was great feeling to everyone together, we all would go fishing or make Olympic games to do every year. We had to stop because tore all the cabins down but it was fun, we did that every summer for 7 years.

  • Yes, it is great when families do what you did – all seven of you! But your right, we have lost many of those rituals, like when my daughters were growing up, we hardly ever had dinners together as one of my daughters was off performing weekly in NYC (we live in Boston), so lots of driving and kids going in different directions – but we did have our annual trips together.

  • We all have secrets, Tom. The question is do those secrets move us apart. The ones you suggest are truly big secrets. Amazing. Why do they do that?

  • What do you have to be, then, Tom? What are the critical factors that make up a ‘good family’ in your opinion?