Saturday, January 30, 2021

RelationDips: Engineering families

It's advertised as a family home, but I'm struck by a thought as I reach the end of the hallway which extends from the front door to the back of the house. I've walked past four small bedrooms, (even the master feels pokey), a bathroom and a laundry, to arrive at the 'open plan' living area which combines kitchen, dining and lounge room.

The house is still occupied so the resident's choice of furniture may be colouring my perspective, but I see in the living area that there are only two eating options. You stand in the kitchen or you sit on the lounge in front of the television. There's a poor excuse for a backyard and a modest sized 'outdoor entertaining' area.

The space devoted to shared family experience in this family home is minimal. I leave quickly. This place isn't for us. I want some room for family and guests to hang out together and yet not be on top of each other. Call me old fashioned but I like the idea of sit down meal with no other amusements. Just people and food.* 

Food is for the body, to satisfy hunger and to nourish us. People, with whom we have relationships, are for the soul to satisfy a different kind of hunger and to nourish our souls. Certainly we need to eat, and good food definitely enhances our lives, but there's a different kind of food we need to be really happy. Good relationships are crucial to our mental, physical and spiritual well being. In the house I viewed, I saw a suburban cell block, designed to isolate members of the household and hinder the development of good relationships.

Think about the design of the house in which you live. Is it a house which serves the family unit or the individual? Is it an open house, a welcoming and generous place which puts people and relationships first? 

Of course, your home should be a sanctuary, a place to rest and withdraw, but it shouldn't be a jail, a fortress or a permanent hiding place. As well as the houses in which we live and make homes, the food we eat-when, where and how-helps build strength and unity in our family relationships.

Like good, healthy relationships, happy, peaceful families don't happen by accident. They have to be engineered, which in the first instance involves making certain choices. In order to live the life you want, you have to be intentional about it. The physical space you live in, and how you use it, is just one of the areas which need to be considered. The modern world delivers many mixed messages when it it comes to relationships in general and families in particular.

Today, I've talked a little about the design and use of space in the family home. In my next post, I'll explore another of the battleground areas for families.

* by distractions I mean television or handheld devices. I think board games are good value. A fun and excellent relationship building activity.

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