An International Family – 4 Generations

I’m from a good sized family, the oldest of 4 children. I have 9 nieces and nephews. Both parents have 5+ siblings. My Grandmother has 16 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren, of which I am her favorite. (Obvi)

You can’t pick your family, but I’m fortunate to have been dealt a winning hand. Family is important, and mine is kind and supportive; they’ve been there when times were tough and encouraged me to chase my dreams.

I’ve also done well with my Internet family, the nice people online who look out for my best interests. Some of them are concerned that a nomadic family might not get enough love, as you can see:

“I love my family, I would never abandon them like you did!”

“My siblings and parents visit often, I couldn’t disappear for months at a time just to travel.”

“It is terrible that your child will never have strong relationships with his cousins and grandparents!”

Thanks everyone, you’re the best!

But there is no need to be concerned. Not only is our nomadic family full of happiness and love, we are thriving. Here is why:

Global Family

Ours is a Global Family at the very core. Winnie and I are from opposite sides of the globe, and have family spread across 2 continents. When we were living in Seattle, my nuclear family alone was spread across 3 time zones, 4 States, and 5 cities. It would be impossible for the entire family tree to live next door to each other, as its seeds have blown far and wide.

Distance is one of many factors that limits the quantity of time we spend together. But it is certainly not the greatest. Work schedules, school schedules, children’s activity schedules, vacation schedules, recharge and recover time, and “other plans” all compete with family time. The complexities of juggling these disparate needs means even my family members living closest together are able to get together only about once every few months.

So we focus on quality over quantity.

Quality Time

Quality time is one of 5 love languages from the book of similar name. It’s a powerful thing.

When we get together with family, it is dedicated time. There are no other responsibilities other than enjoying each other’s company.

Some examples:

  • When Jr was born, I flew my Grandma & Mom to Asia to spend 3 weeks with their newest grandchild.
  • Winnie’s Mom spent more than a week with us in Thailand.
  • Last year we gathered 4 generations of family for a week on a a lake, 23 of us in total (grandparents/parents/siblings/our children.)
  • This year, we are spending a week with extended family and then taking my Grandma and Mom on a 10-day cruise to Alaska.

We aspire to have extended quality time at least once per year.

Who ordered the cheeseburger?

This concentrated quality time provides a strong environment for togetherness and bonding. Everybody is on vacation, which means we are fully present… nobody is thinking about work while your brother tells (for the 900th time) the stories about how 25 years ago you chased him around the house with a knife or nearly electrocuted him .

Playing Cards Against Humanity – photo by my bro

Bubbles! – photo by my bro

Connections

When we aren’t all physically located in the same place, there is this cool thing called the Internet that helps us stay connected. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

“Hi Daddy!” – Skype across the dining room

Skype/Facetime/Hangouts give us real time video conferencing from our phones and laptops. Grandma can even read books over Skype. Crazy.

Facebook is great for getting the latest photos and events, and Facebook messenger lets us chat about random stuff. That’s how I learned my brother bought a boat, gave my sister tips for her vacation to Mexico, and saw photos of my other brother’s vacation in Yellowstone.

Plus all of my family follows us on Twitter and Instagram. which contains some great photos such as this one with my 3 nephews when I was passing through California on the way to the Chautauqua.

It sure beats the good ol’ days of long distance telephone calls and hand written letters. The Internet is great.

I was discussing this style of family connectedness to a reader once, and she said our global family seems to have more quality time together than her own, even though they all live in the same large city. I don’t know if that would be the case for others, but it works for us. As a bonus, it is impossible for your mother-in-law to stop by unannounced 😉

Summary

Family connections are important. Through the Internet and regular quality time, a global family can build and grow strong bonds.

Much like the human mind, the world is as small or as big as you make it.

What do you do to keep your family “together”?


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