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Preserving the Family Unit

Kids are terrific aren’t they?

I had the most interesting conversation with my niece this evening. She and her son had visited our house last year and witnessed an interesting little ritual we have and she questioned me about it tonight on the phone.

She said, "My son and I have been walking around the house all day saying, ‘Enthusiasm,’ and I tried to tell my kids about it, but I just can’t say it like Uncle Shawn does." I had to laugh. I cannot believe she even remembered us doing that. How funny.

When my husband was a boy, his father would wake up the sleepy children with a loud, robust round of "Enthusiasm." The point was to give the child some enthusiasm, until they answered back with, "Enthusiasm." It beats the heck out of waking up with an ice cube on bare skin or having ice water thrown on you, which is how I was awakened a couple of times.

My husband got on the phone and gave each child a jovial, throaty, "enthusiasm." By the time they hung up the phone, the children were all laughing, giving each other a little enthusiasm. It was very cute.

Family rituals like these are the kind we all hope to pass along to our kids. It provides them each with a sense of unity and strengthens that family bond. The people you have history with are the ones we all feel closest to, especially during times of tremendous grief and trauma.

This is exactly why we must do more to protect the family unit. The bonds we develop with family members are what give us the will to go on. Children raised in foster care are like boats without rudders: they have no direction and no anchor. Our history ties us to the past, serves as an anchor in a storm, and keeps us from heading off aimlessly in the dark.

It is not by accident that 80% of adults in prison spent at least a portion of their lives in foster care.

I really love it when I find that my own children (and my niece) are remembering our family traditions and passing them along to their own children. Those traditions provide a bond between me and my grandchildren and great nieces and nephews. They all love to talk on the phone but I am not always certain what to say to the kids. This provides something we can share – and it’s fun, too.

Kids really are terrific!

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