The importance of staying in touch with your family

Debbie Pinto

“Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” The famous quote from the Disney classic Lilo and Stich contains deep meaning and truth. We all have a family, each different and unique.

Union College values family and creates opportunities for families to be involved. This past weekend, Union hosted its 23rd annual Parent’s Weekend. A time for families to experience student life and spend needed time with their loved ones. Each family is unique and plays a central role in our identity.

“My family is loud, tall, fun and sometimes brutally honest,” says Lyndsey Cowin, junior nursing major. “I also love that I can be my complete, true self around them and they still have to love me.”  

As we get further into the semester, our planners start to fill up and our hours of sleep can be counted on one hand. Focus shifts and we forget to stay in touch with our families. But there is research that shows us the benefits of staying in touch with our loved ones.

Psychology Today article “The Importance of Staying Connected with Family and Friends” references a research study conducted by Jay Turner about social support. Social support is the feeling that we are loved and cared for, a feeling of belonging. Turner’s study mentions that  “Social support is related to psychological well-being, meaning that the more a person feels he has friends and family who are there for him, the less likely he is to feel depressed and anxious.”

Along with personal benefits, staying in touch with family may improve professional performance. According to well known psychologists, J. Irene Harris, Ann Marie Winskowski and Brian E. Engdahl, “High levels of social support predict more job satisfaction and longer job tenure than low levels of social support.” Students on campus are no exception.

Josh Hester, senior theology major, says, “With my dad I always feel at home when we talk. He's just so much of who I am that when we reconnect it helps me find level ground again.”

Better job satisfaction and less anxiety are only a portion of the benefits. Staying connected to family takes you back to your roots. It keeps you in touch with your identity and purpose. It’s a reminder of the people who raised you.

Staying connected with your family becomes increasingly difficult as your life unfolds. Time zone differences and crazy adventures, such as serving overseas and studying abroad, can make you lose touch with home. Keep your family in the loop; stay in touch with their side of the world.

“When I was in Honduras it was really hard at first because I didn't even know enough Spanish to find out how to get a phone or Internet. I felt alone for awhile. But, things got better when I was able to talk to them on a cell I bought. It always made my day better,” says Hester.

We host Parent’s Weekend to allow students and parents to reconnect and to give a glimpse of a day in our lives. Family is important and valuable in our self-discovery. Keeping in touch with your family can make the difference between a good or bad week. Remember to thank your family for their work and don’t forget to give them a call this week.

Debbie is a junior studying elementary education.