#DailyWritingChallenge Day 16: Family – a blog by Liz Cartledge

Family has always been hugely important to me, whether it be my blood relatives, my friends or my school family. The word family means something special and individual to us all and it certainly is not a one size fits all.  I love hearing about how families are made up, uniquely for us all making us all individuals.

For me family isn’t always about blood connections, it can sometimes be achieved by the way people make us feel in their company. For example, lots of us grow up referring to family friends as ‘Aunties’ or ‘Uncles’ because they are close family friends. I love this sense of connection that draws us all together and think it’s important to seek out these human bonds where they exist throughout our lives, family makes us richer as people after all.

Family values in action

Since becoming a Mum to twins in 2019, I have really reflected on how I now build a family for my daughters so that they feel loved, safe and that they belong. I know how important this is for their growth and security as they grow-up and like every parent, I want the very best for them. But how do we build strong family values?

Family in 2020

Having a young family in the current climate is certainly sometimes daunting to say the least but the climate has made me think about our family values.  Faced with the pandemic currently, family is really important to us all and for some of us, we are probably spending more time than we have ever spent with our loved ones but less so with others that form our family. Whilst it is a very stressful time, it is also a warm and close time for many of us which is a fantastic thing and will certainly be allowing us all time to reflect on what family means to us all.

This isn’t about us saying ‘I’ve got this sorted’ because nobody has all of the time. What I think this climate does though is it makes us appreciate our families a little more each day, allowing us to take time to notice what surrounds us and being thankful. Something we all have to remind ourselves to do every now and then when life becomes busy. Perhaps a national ‘family appreciation day’ would help us do this as a nation.

It has also made me think about how we connect with our families and despite living in a technological rich world, we don’t always use technology in the best way to make us connect with our families as often as we could. In fact, we are often too entrenched in technology, including social media, to notice just how wonderful our families are that surround us and how ‘rich’ they make us.

The current pace of life makes me reminisce back to my childhood. Life was certainly much slower paced in the 1980s! Similar to now, we did shop locally, talk to our neighbours a lot and spend a lot of time at home. I wonder if after this pandemic we will begin to see life change once again and focus more on our local communities?

The current climate also makes me think back to 2005 when I was lucky enough to be part of a life changing expedition to Malealea in Lesotho.

Taking 30 children to complete aid work after raising £50,000 through fundraising, I kept a journal whilst visiting this wonderful country and it also gave me an insight into their family life. I have read parts of this journal recently, similar to living through this pandemic, it was life changing for me. I wrote about the importance of family values. I could see how important the values were in this community shown through their:

  • Rich time spent together as families
  • Openness to share and welcome others to their homes
  • Strong sense of community

So, how do we ensure our children learn these family values living in the 21st century?

Well for me as a starting point, it’s about us:

  • Retelling stories about life in in a pandemic
  • Writing blogs like this
  • Taking pictures and videos of significant events and memories e.g. food parcels delivered, NHS street claps etc… 
  • Ensuring we instil the family values we are drawing from this pandemic into all we do every day and reflect continually about the joys family life gives us regularly.

I honestly feel living through this pandemic we have a chance here to re-establish our family values. We have to ensure the future generations understand what this pandemic has done to strengthen our families in this busy world we live in. Whilst it has left many of us estranged for the short-term, how connected were we before? If you genuinely were, great keep it going, but if like me you took some aspects of family life for granted – don’t, stop and think a bit.

We have to remember that when we do connect with our family through these times, we genuinely care about how they are, we are looking out for them through tough times similar to how families I have met whilst in Malealea. I was in awe of them as their family values were so clear to see.

As a new Mum, I want to ensure my children grow up appreciating the small things in life and family is the best place to start this. I hope to keep this up but re-reading blogs like these will be a great reminder to me and a fantastic piece of history made by everyone, so I want to thank my twitter ‘family’ for providing me and my children with this opportunity because without these blogs, it’s easy to forget the richness our family can provide to us all every day and never so much as they do right now.

Published by Ethical Leader

Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. Experience of teaching schools, initial teacher education, mentoring & coaching, diversity and equality. Passionate about integrity, ethics and values.

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