Human beings were created to rely on one another for survival. For thousands of years, groups of families and community members have traveled together, provided food for one another and created a life dependent on one another. It’s in our nature to need other people. And yet, in today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, it often feels like everyone is on their own island.
Between hectic schedules, digital advances, and the demands of daily life, we’ve been gradually conditioned to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. And while there are benefits, this shift has largely caused great harm. People today are more lonely than ever, leading to increased anxiety, depression, isolation and increased suicide rates. This self-sufficient lifestyle is detrimental both to our children’s development, as well as our own.
Whether we like it or not, this independent world is the one we’re raising our kids in. So what does this mean? No, not that all hope is lost. But it is important to work harder than ever to surround your family – and your children – with a thriving, close-knit community. Below are some tips on doing so:
Build Your Own Relationships
Children learn by example. And when they see you with close friendships, they’ll be motivated to find the same. Invest in relationships around you, including your spouse, your family and friends. Your connection is just as important as your children and from your own community will stem a thriving one for your whole family.
Ask for Help
“It takes a village.” This is a phrase I’m most grateful my parents modeled for me. I still keep in touch with my childhood best friends and that is largely due to my relationship with their whole family. Their parents helped raise me when my parents needed help, and vice versa. To know I had multiple adults growing up I could rely on gave me a steady feeling of safety. Although this is only a personal experience, one of the most effective tools for raising your kids is not being able to do everything but inviting trusted friends and family in on the journey.
Once you and your family create a safe home environment, view it as a space to share! Some ways of doing this are inviting neighbors over for dinner, letting family stay from out of town and encouraging your kids to invite friends over for playdates. While hospitality looks different for every family, it is a fantastic means to inviting people into your lives. Explore what hospitality looks like in your own home and lives.
What connects us to other people is common interests, beliefs and ways of living. To surround your family with like-minded families, decide what matters to you as a unit and seek those people out. This could be by connecting to a church community, an athletic team or the neighbors you meet at the bus stop every day. Relationships that are a part of your every day life solidify the true definition of community. Find that community that’s a part of your family’s everyday life.
The common thread between the points above is the importance of prioritizing connection. Create space for both you and your children to connect with the people around them. If they make new friends at school, invite them over! Get to know their parents. Prioritize making time to connect with extended family and close family friends. Open your home to others and humbly ask for help from others. These are all ways in which you and your family can build a close-knit community. And in doing so, the burdens and challenges you face as a family will be a little easier to bear.