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Paul Harvey was an American broadcaster and commentator. He died in 2009 at the age of 90. I remember listening to his radio show as a young girl – his “Rest of the Story” segments never failed to entertain and enlighten my young mind. I fondly remember sitting around the kitchen table, my dad turning on the radio to hear the familiar voice of Paul Harvey just minutes before we blessed our food. There we were, together as a family, listening to a short, thought-provoking story from Paul Harvey on KSAL, our local AM radio station. There were no electronic devices or iPads, just the sound of our own voices, the clanging of the knives and forks, and the wonderful smell of my mother’s cooking.
His radio show became a regular fixture of my family’s daily lunchtime routine on the farm. Now, decades later, I still remember one of his stories in particular titled Dirt Roads. The focus of the segment was on how simpler life was back when dirt roads were commonplace. It was a time when neighbors knew their neighbors, people left their doors unlocked, and families still gathered around the dinner table at the end of each day. There were meaningful conversations with family and neighbors, and people looked out for each other. When it rained and the roads were too muddy, people just stayed home and turned the day into family time.
Recently, I represented a young man at the center of a high conflict custody case that has made me think a lot about Paul Harvey and his Dirt Roads segment. I became acquainted with my client’s parents during my representation and soon realized why this family shared such a special bond. It was not because they lived on a real dirt road, but because they refused to let the conflicts surrounding the custody battle derail the significance of family and community. This family strived to maintain real connections with the people in their lives by opening up their home every Sunday afternoon to their children, friends, family, and neighbors for a hearty meal and meaningful conversation. They gathered not only to eat but to maintain the family connection as their children grew, married and had children of their own. Lives were changing and going different directions, but Sunday afternoon dinners were a time to share stories, talk about what was going on in each other’s lives, and just have fun together. It became a tradition of incredible food, games, sports, and conversation. Everyone in their community was welcome and no one was ever a stranger at this family home. According to my client, his friends would stop by on Sundays to be with his family, even if he wasn’t there – what a testament to the strength of the connections this family had built!
When I hear stories about how infrequent family sit-down dinners have become or when I see children (and sometimes parents, too) in restaurants glued to their phone or electronic device, I can’t help but think about dirt roads and Paul Harvey’s prescient wisdom.
While times have changed and paved roads enable life to move at a much faster pace, sometimes I wonder what we’ve really gained, and at what price? Sure, we can get from point A to point B faster. We can Alexa and Siri our every whim. But ultimately, with all our technology and ability to instantly connect, are we failing to cultivate lasting connections with the people around us?
So, in 2018, may we all take time to slow down and enjoy some good ‘ole family time around the dinner table. Turn off the electronics, resist the urge to text as your primary form of communicating, and remember in life to always tune-in for the “rest of the story.”
Kristin Ruth is a long-time family law attorney and former 10th District Court Wake County Judge. She represents clients in all aspects of family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, and equitable property distribution. She brings more than 23 years of courtroom and mediation experience to her practice. She is an avid writer and frequent guest speaker at national and international events on issues covering child support and ethics....LEARN MORE