My wife and I attended a formation course before we got married. One of the valuable things we picked up from it was this: “Be mindful in how you welcome each other home because it will spell the difference in your life as a couple and as a family.”

Now that we are married, the scenario changed somewhat since then. A few nights ago, when I entered the door, I found the children absorbed in their screens, big and small, while Lucia was busy in the kitchen. So I said: “Maybe none of you noticed, but I’m home! Although I was unhappy with your welcome, perhaps I can go back through the front door and try again.” Today, even if the homecoming welcome is not so enthusiastic, the situation at home is much improved.

This brings me to an important realization: sometimes we need to “demand” attention and time from our loved ones. Society today wants us to think (and actually dictates a certain norm) that technology makes communications easier and more convenient, but it does not. The warmth of a personal greeting, a hug, a kind word, a peck on the cheek cannot be replaced by an Instagram photo or a witty tweet.

True communication has its “rituals.” It requires time and effort. So if our loved ones fall short, even if unintentionally, we must call their attention. Family dynamics is like math multiplication: it only takes one factor to be eliminated to cancel the product.

Let us not take the rapport within our family for granted. Instead, but let us nurture it, giving each member the time and attention they deserve; sometimes even demanding it, if necessary. This mindfulness will go a long way.

Lucia and Massimo Massimino with Jenni Bulan
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