In an era of competing interests, the challenge many families face today is how to fit time together to strengthen family ties and to develop their spiritual identity. Soccer games and homework, iPods and Nintendo, and often both parents and sometimes students working at jobs that might entail weekend hours, can generate conflict when it comes to targeting a moment to nurture family togetherness and spirituality. Even cell phone and computer use can propel family members to pursue relationships and interests that diminish family intimacy.

Bruce and Pauline Collette, of Lewiston, recently shared some personal experiences in being parents of children with significant age differences: Luc, 21, an art major, John, 19, a future physicist, and Abbie and Abram, 9 year old twins at Trinity Catholic School.

“Road trips,” said Bruce. “We’ve been to Washington, D.C., Florida, and just this summer, New Brunswick. We pick a place and ask if they’ll come. They do.”

Visibly excited, the Collettes recalled how on this recent trip they ran out of gas, got a flat tire, Abram predictably got sick, and yet in unison they chorused what a wonderful time they all had.

Having the comparison of already bringing up the two oldest boys, Bruce remarked that it was easier to bring up the twins, thanks, in part, to Luc’s and John’s help.

“They take an interest in them. Give them advice. Teach Abram some football moves. Even help Abbie with some of her cheering routines,” noted Pauline.

Fortunately, although representing different teams, Abbie and Abram play and practice at the same time and place.

Prayer, a different family priority, happens on the way to school and at bed time. Given that the Collettes are Catholic and that services are held both on Saturday and Sunday, they are able to worship together every weekend.

Allen Austin, pastor of the Vineyard church, shares his perspective on the challenges of ministering to today’s families. When families are divided, he says, [if] “Mom and Dad are divorced or separated, we might not get to see the children every weekend. Plus, the pull and draw of sports, extracurricular activities and other things. Twenty years ago, Sunday morning was reserved for Church. People now have a more active lifestyle.”

The Vineyard has a comprehensive plan to offset these challenges. “From the cradle to the grave, we provide options. We have different events appealing to everyone in the family, such as our annual Living Nativity show.”

Recently the Vineyard sponsored the Central Maine Car Show in which families could come together to have fun and to evangelize. Although programs directed at all ages and interests exist, the Vineyard also prioritizes family togetherness by scheduling times in which families dine together prior to pursuing their individual interests.

Anita Letendre, LCPC, emphasizes spirituality in her counseling practice. Asked if spirituality is important to family life she commented, “Absolutely! People who are raised to know that God loves them believe they are worthwhile and develop healthy self love. To know God loves them makes children feel safe, too.”


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