Gary Lindstrom: Love is a family value
Sometimes I feel like a foreign correspondent. Three years ago I was writing from San Miquel de Allende, Mexico. Last year I was writing from San Pedro, Guatemala, and this year I am writing from Cuenca, Ecuador. Seems like the more time that goes by the further south I get. Maybe it has something to do with this last winter.
On each of my trips I have lived with a local family for a month.
In Mexico I lived with a very wealthy older couple in their huge expensive home. I have never felt more isolated.
In Guatemala I lived with a peasant family in a very poor area. It was mom, dad and me along with their eight children. We never ate together and there was not enough food to go around.
Here in Ecuador I hit the jackpot. I am living with a dentist and his wife in a very nice home high on a hill overlooking the city. They have plenty of food and can afford all of the nice things in life. They also have four grown children who are all professionals. They all have advanced degrees and are very successful.
And all of that brings me to why love is a family value.
I have never felt or seen so much love in one place that I do in this home. Instead of feeling isolated as I was in Mexico, my family here actually invites me to eat in the kitchen with them.
On Sunday the family had a huge family dinner with at least 20 people seated at the table. It was mom, dad, four grown children, their husbands and wives and more children than I could count.
Everyone talked at once. It was pandemonium filled with love. The children were acting like children making a lot of noise, not sitting still and running around the house. Not once did anyone correct them or ask them to calm down. I have never seen children loved so much.
There was lots of kissing and hugging among the family members and the children. It was not stilted or affected. It was a very real expression of emotion.
I found out later that the family comes over for dinner two days a week. Imagine that? The mother did all of the cooking but both the men and women helped with serving everything. No complaints and everyone just did what needed to be done.
No one got up to go into the other room to watch soccer. The women did not gather in the kitchen to talk alone. I got the feeling that if anyone left the room the others would be offended.
Love is a family value. Hate is not a family value as the bumper sticker announces.
When I was facilitating the Tough Love group in Summit County a few years ago the parents that I worked with would always ask, “What did I do to go so very wrong?” Their child was in prison or in jail and they blamed themselves for the situation.
I guess I should have asked the question, “When was the last time you had dinner with your children?” “When was the last time you ate dinner together without having the television on in the other room?”
I guess the reason that I am so smart is that I probably made all of the mistakes. My family very seldom ate together. For years all four of us went to the four winds all day long and would sometimes go to bed without ever talking to each other. That was wrong.
If you are having problems in your family or if you wonder where the love is at home take a few minutes and look in the mirror and you can see the person responsible for the problem and the person who can solve the problem.
Get your entire extended family together along with some great food. Lock the door and turn off the television and love each other the way my family in Ecuador does a couple times a week.
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