I have been thinking a lot lately how some families gravitate towards one another. Over the twenty some odd years’ we have been parents, I have noticed how both families and their children gravitate towards each other, especially when it is not forced.
My husband and I have friends that are primarily couples, married about the same length of time – some slightly less than our soon to be thirty years and some slightly more. They all have children, again some slightly older or younger than ours. These are the couples we socialize with, attending graduations, family gatherings, birthday celebrations, and extra curricular events the children find themselves involved in, such as theater, band concerts, or sports. Truly, it is a great group, one in which most of us “click” and conversation is easy. I never feel like I have to “work” at our gatherings, which is a true blessing. We feel accepted for who we are, just as we accept the other group members for themselves, as well.
The group dynamics have never been forced, it just “happens”. From experience, I know if the interactions were forced, we would not have continued to attend group functions. So, how does this happen? I started to wonder. Is it an unspoken sense of shared values and beliefs that connect us? Is it similar personalities or child-rearing philosophies? Or, is it the differences that draw us towards one another? Some of us have families near and some, further away. Maybe we gain a sense of family by being with our friends. I would like to think so.
The reason I started thinking about this is that our youngest son is an athlete. Actually, he has many of great skills in many areas. However, athleticism, and truly loving the sports he plays, is somewhat of a novelty for our family. This year he met a student through track who has a brother that was friends with our oldest son. He really gets along with this fellow student athlete, just as our oldest son really got along this athlete’s oldest brother. The older brothers met through band, theater and shared classes, not sports. I guess the platform does not matter. We find ourselves getting to know this family all over again because now, our two youngest boys are playing competitive soccer with each other! They even play similar roles on the team – defensive backs. Instead of seeing this family at band concerts and theater productions, we are seeing them at soccer games! This developing friendship is what started me thinking.
There are other examples. Our middle son has a great friend whose siblings are much older. The two boys spend a great deal of time together. Again, friendship has extended to this family to the point where I walk with the boy’s mother once a week for exercise. We have also shared some meals together or gotten together for conversation around the fire pit. We look forward to seeing them at the boys tennis matches and school events. If we did not have sons of similar age, I doubt we would get together with this family. So, is that it? Our children help us to gravitate towards other families through common interest and age? Maybe. I do not think that was true when we grew up.
In addition our oldest son has found families similar to these through his college roommates over the last four years. He has been included at family gatherings and we have included their sons at ours.
So, what are the attracting factors? Similarity? Common belief’s? Common values? Convenience? Having children the same age? Or, something more? Could it be possible it is something we have no control over, like destiny? I will probably never know, and will definitely keep pondering over how it all works. But, however it comes about, it feels good to know we can share in the lives of some wonderful families in our community – and have them be counted as wonderful friends.