RETURNING home from holidays is a reflective time for my wife and I.
Certainly, the 1800km drive gave me time to think. This time it was “the cousins” that caught my attention. Is it not amazing how cousins understand one another?
Seeing the glow on my eldest daughter’s face after playing intensely for hours was delightful.
It seems odd because these cousins – children hardly known to each other – become immediate best buddies.
They seem to intrigue one another as though they are constantly pondering while playing thoughts like, “this is not just another boy at the playground he belongs to me” or “this girl is family somehow, like a sister”.
I noticed, again, how much children seem to grow up during the holidays. My 11-month-old son now crawls, points and grunts special commands.
My three-year-old daughter squeaks less and has a bigger grin on her face. My five-year-old son is bigger, prouder and ready for school.
Perhaps he grew up a little when he hit his fingernail with my old hammer-hatchet I found at Mum’s that I had just solemnly passed onto him, “It’s yours now. Be careful with it. It’s heavy, sharp and dangerous.”
Lastly, my eldest, upon arriving home immediately began organising the clothes washing while also giving away loving looks that said: “Thanks Mum and Dad for a great holiday”.
I take time to pause and think of families who cannot catch up at Christmas time, those grieving and those with little or no extended family.
I stop to consider the impact of some governments’ family policy. For example, how many Chinese children have no cousins, no aunts and no uncles following generations under their Communist Party’s brutal forced-abortion, one-child-only policy.
In Australia, families are mobile and many traverse long distances or expensive flights to catch up with the extended family. This takes a toll on parents, bank balances and children.
Sometimes, I worry about where Australia’s family life is heading. Our birth rate has slumped to below replacement levels. Our grandparents are often tucked away from reach in residential care.
New mothers are often thousands of kilometres away from their natural support base – their extended family.
Certainly many of my Generation X and Y peers share serious fears, usually about financial or material security, about having as many children as they once dreamed of having when they were younger.
This year I hope we celebrate our extended family better and connect more often.
Through my work with the Australian Family Association I hope to promote public policy that supports natural family connections.
Luke McCormack is married with four children and is a spokesman and officer for the Australian Family Association in Queensland.
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