Updates: Relationship Building Necessity

In our family, we are not like lots of mothers and daughters who keep their relationships up to date by calling each other every day. I have often marveled at that since I don’t like phoning all that much. A big part of our infrequent calls is that we are all quite busy, and even if we would want to chat for a minute, the chances of us wanting it at the same minute would be slim.

However, all of us have this strange, inner warning system that tells us when it’s been too long. It’s time for an update. We will text to find out a good time to talk on the phone. Or sometimes we will just text for a long time, which leaves a nice record of what was said that can be nice to review. Often we will group chat with the girls’ husbands too, which always adds some hilarious twists. We do care about knowing each other and being known. I definitely give credit to that practice for our generally good relationships.

This need to periodically get updates has spread to our extended family. My four brothers, their wives and children cooperate on a Zoom call every couple of months. It’s a little challenging to schedule since we are in time zones from the east coast to Alaska, but we usually manage to hear from everyone.

We fill up more than one screen when we all participate.

Sometimes a half hour update is not enough for us so we plan a reunion. Spending more time together is what is needed to keep some of these relationships fresh and current. Four or five days of eating together, talking, walking, sharing fun experiences and being in the same space always adds to our understanding of each other’s lives. We always build some new memorable moments. I don’t think any of us ever wants to miss one of the reunions. (I could be wrong about that but no one has ever told me otherwise.)

It’s been four years since our last reunion, so everyone is excited about doing it this summer. We are reviving a number of items from past times, one of which is the family newsletter. This is the gold standard of updates. Every family is asked to summarize what’s been going on since we last met and submit it to the volunteer “editorial board”. And if they don’t take time for that task before the publication date, the board gets to make something up for them. As a writer, that’s one of my favorite jobs.

Lots of my friends and acquaintances notice and remark about how our family is such a close-knit group. Our habits of getting together, doing things together, staying knowledgeable about each other’s lives and having regular updates have made it possible. We are building good relationships for ourselves now and hopefully teaching the next generation ways of continuing to build relationships for the future.

How long has it been since your family had a reunion? What would it take to do it? Worth thinking about…

Six Communication Tips (Help Me Remember!)

8-26-2019

Communication is so important. I am drawn to think about it this week since I have been twice (that I know of) in situations where my communication was less than sufficient or completely missing, forgotten. In my world of “communication rain”, it was pouring!

And if I could just read people’s minds, and they could read mine, miscommunication would not be an issue. But I guess, or assume, and things go awry.

I forgot to invite a family member to a family gathering. And when I did contact them late, I neglected to find out if they knew where the gathering was. I neglected to exchange cell phone numbers in case plans changed. I spent half of the family picnic feeling worried about why they weren’t there and wondering if they had gotten lost. I couldn’t call them to find out. I felt the guilt. It was the hardest thing ever to pick up the phone later that evening and find out what had happened.

The very next day(!) a series of late decisions and wrong assumptions led to disappointing some friends and leaving them waiting at a restaurant for us to meet them for dinner. Mom was in on this one and her observation was that her aversion to talking on the phone often kept her from necessary communication. We could have just made a call, earlier than we did.

Realizing that I have caused someone inconvenience or emotional pain/upset is stressful for me. I don’t need more stress! And I don’t want friends, family, or anyone for that matter, to feel confused, unloved or unimportant. That is stressful for them. So, thought and prayer brought some things to mind. From now on I will tell myself:

Shirley, listen now,

1. If you are in doubt, pick up the phone and find out! People don’t have to answer if they are busy. They will know you cared and will call back when they can.

2. Let people know that you don’t mind being called. They might have that phobia or aversion to calling. I always feel cared for, not bothered.

3. Text, if they use texting enough to be familiar with it. Be sure to SEND the text after writing it. (Yes, that one is for me.)

4. Call sometimes when there isn’t a pressing reason. This is how to make sure you have the correct contact information, home phones and cell phones.

5. Realize that it’s hard to over communicate. Talk plans through if you make them in person, and agree to confirm later if needed.

6. Probably the most important thing, pray about any plans, that they would be under God’s direction. Even if things seem to be going wrong, if he’s in charge, he is working something out and he isn’t expecting you to worry about it.