The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families | #WeCanSolveThis

Happy Holidays 2017!

By Lara Trace Hentz

I want to share an Op-ED (opinion editorial) I wrote WAY back in 2001. Yup, that sure was a long time ago.  I was an editor of a tribal newspaper in Connecticut…But the amazing thing is:  THIS is still relevant.

Maybe more so in 2017… take a read…

Rebuilding our families

In October (2001), Dr. Mary Pipher, a noted psychologist and nationally renowned author, spoke to a large audience at the Garde Arts Center in New London about the importance of rebuilding our families. Her presentation was timely, considering the events of 9-11 and its effects on citizens of this country.

Pipher related that Americans are the hardest working people in the world and consequently, some 45 million adults are on some kind of drug for nerves. America’s stressed-out adult population is adversely affecting our families. Less than one third of families have regular meals together. Parents are overwhelmed. Children develop behavior problems. We are not happy people.

“We must be the change we wish to see in this world,” Pipher said. “We must talk about values and teach our children to value the right things.”

According to this expert, we are missing social skills. We interrupt, act rude and use inappropriate behavior. Television teaches us to buy things. There are some 3,000 ads a day, which is having a cumulative effect on all of us. How many computers and televisions do we need? Do houses really need to be castle-size? We are isolated in big houses. We are becoming dissatisfied and narcissistic, self-obsessed.

In this ever-evolving world, technology is determining how we interact in society. And the way it’s going now, we’re not getting emotionally stronger but more isolated, dejected.

However, Pipher offered some solid solutions to our general unhappiness. Reacquaint your children to large family celebrations. Children need their relatives, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Little ones learn to negotiate and navigate best with family members around the house regularly.

Pipher says the antidote to despair is being helpful. Take an interest in other people’s children. Parent other people’s children, not just your own. Teach children to find pleasure in being helpful. Spend time outdoors. Connect children to useful work. Redefine the meaning of wealth. Teach children to be responsible.

Pipher believes in teaching family history. Tell stories about the ancestors and where they came from. Have a family ritual every night that might include reading poetry, family memories or stories of hope and heroic behavior. If adults behave well in difficult times, children will, too.

Make good conscious choices in two areas: protect from what is harmful and connect to what is beautiful.

We also need to protect our children from the media, from too much television, too much news and even adult conversation. Their developing minds cannot rationalize or discern between daddy’s or mommy’s upcoming business trip and the plane crash on television. Protect the children from violence on television. Teach your children by your own behavior; stress calmness and safety.

Pipher said create quiet time, family time.  These tools will rebuild our family in times like these.

Happy holidays everyone.  [Trace A. DeMeyer,  Editor of the Pequot Times (2001)]

TOP PHOTO: Mary Pipher, and her website: HERE

Left, book cover:   The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families
In The Shelter of Each Other, Mary Pipher does for the American family what she did for adolescent girls and their parents in her bestselling book Reviving Ophelia: she opens our eyes wide to the desperate realities we are facing and shows us a way out. Drawing on the fascinating stories of families rich and poor, angry and despairing, religious and skeptical, and probing deep into her own family memories and experiences, Pipher clears a path to the strength and energy at the core of family life. Wise, compassionate, and impassioned, The Shelter of Each Other challenges each of us to face the truth about ourselves and to find the courage to protect, nurture, and revivify the families we cherish.

BONUS:  Louise Erdrich’s Storytelling Addiction

https://www.wnyc.org/widgets/ondemand_player/wnyc/#file=/audio/json/819201/&share=1

The writer Louise Erdrich’s storytelling addiction “really began when my other addictions failed,” she tells David Remnick. Since the early nineteen-eighties, her work has primarily chronicled Native American life, and, in that regard, Erdrich’s latest book is no different: “Future Home of the Living God” follows the lives of a group of Ojibwe Indians living in rural Minnesota. But, where her previous novels have remained largely grounded in realism, this book is a work of speculative fiction, with a touch of science fiction. It imagines a kind of reverse-evolution slowly taking hold of the globe, and bringing with it a political catastrophe of dystopian dimensions. Erdrich says that she was inspired by Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and by P. D. James’s “Children of Men”—works that put literature in the service of imagining the worst.

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WATCH Indigenous Protectors 

One of the most effective ways to save forests is by empowering the people who have been protecting them for generations. We have to support the land rights of indigenous peoples. #WeCanSolveThis

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