I was sitting in the bedroom starting at my computer screen when my twenty-something son popped his head through the doorway and said, I’m going for a walk. Do you want to join me? I was feeling sluggish and worn out. I really wanted to blurt out, I’m too tired but instead I said, “sure!”

Taking those steps along the sidewalk, the dialogue began. I started to share about something I had read. He opened up about work, plans he is making. There are few other times in our day when that happens. This type of interaction can be rare in our media-soaked environment. But experts say many interactions like this are needed in a child and adult’s life in order for positive human development to occur and healthy relationships to thrive. (Check out SimpleInteractions.org)

If you’ve ever seen Mr. Rogers, he’s a great example of how to nurture these authentic human interactions that form strong healthy relationships in families.

His program showcased what human relationships look like through puppetry, real-life guests, and visits in the neighborhood. Mr. Rogers spoke slowly. He listened wholeheartedly to the children he interviewed. He gave them his full attention and in return, children spoke openly and grew in their self-awareness and understanding of the world around them.

I am so thankful that I walked away from my computer screen to walk with my son when I had the chance. Research shows, it’s this type of simple interaction that is most important for human development. Understanding this helps me to focus on the simple ways that I can intentionally be present to my family and friends in order to strengthen these relationships, especially in our families. Because as Pope Francis teaches, the family is a ‘domestic Church’ where the sacramental presence of Christ acts between spouses and between parents and children, and the experience of love in families is a perennial source of strength for the life of the Church.

By Teresa Peterson

p.s. Let me know what you think and how you are making space for grace! Email me at communicate@dosp.org 🙂