Freshman Describes the Importance of Family and Spending Time Together


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By Samantha Shaffer

Left to right: Allison McKenna, Eddie Knudsen, Doug Knudsen, and Claire Knudsen. The McKenna-Knudsen family in Puerto Rico on their family vacation in Winter 2016. The McKenna- Knudsen family was in Puerto Rico for ten days over Christmas break.

Electric anticipation filled the air as the British announcer gave a play by play of the English Premier League soccer game. Arsenal moved the ball down the field towards the goal. The forward shot and the ball found the back of the net. Father and daughter shared an excited glance. Their team was ahead. Mom and older brother joined in on the celebration and they rejoiced as a family.  

Freshman Claire Knudsen describes how important her family is and how they have shaped her life. Whether it is going to the grocery store together or watching a soccer game, the McKenna-Knudsens spend a great amount of time together.

“I’d say when we’re not all either at work or school, we’re together,” Claire said.

Research has been conducted in many instances to explore the impact and importance of family and spending time together. According to the article, “Research on Successful Families,” by Maria Krysan, Kristin A. Moore, and Nicholas Zill of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “In research done in studying strong families, it was found that successful families ‘spend time together.’”  

Every morning, Claire’s parents check in on her and her brother to make sure they are awake and doing well. In the afternoon, if her parents are not going to be home when Claire arrives, she receives a text from her mom making sure she had a good day and providing support if the school day was difficult.

Her mother, Allison McKenna, makes sure Claire and her brother Eddie have a strong support system.

“I think one thing that was lacking in my own family was my parents didn’t spend a lot of time checking in on me,” Allison said.

Due to the way she grew up,  as a parent, Allison tries to make sure her children have a strong emotional support system.

When she was about 10 or 11 years old, Claire and her family went on a vacation to Puerto Rico. She smiled to herself as she recounted stories of visiting forts and spending days on the beach. They knew where they would stay each night, but other than that there was no plan. They were spontaneous. A colorful brochure in a hotel lobby had the ability to determine the events of the day. Claire felt that the trip would have been very different had she gone with friends instead of her family.

“I think I would have been confused and I would have just followed what everyone else did, but when I was with my family, I could at least have a say in what we did. I had more fun,” Claire said.

Traveling abroad with her family allowed all of them to share a unique experience and see a part of the world very different from Kalamazoo. Traveling to Puerto Rico brought the McKenna Knudsen family together as they were able to gain an understanding of life outside of the United States.

“When we were in Puerto Rico there were a lot of people walking down the street and lots of dogs kind of wandering around. It was interesting to see different cultures and how different parts of the world are,” Claire said.

Allison feels traveling as a family is very important. Her father was a sociology professor and taught his children the importance of learning about other cultures and groups. However, her father was very anxiety-prone, so they were unable to travel very far from Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, where she grew up. As a result, Allison makes sure she provides her children with the experiences of traveling abroad.

“I think that having exposure to cultures and social groups outside of where you live is very important for your understanding of different cultures and what they do,” Allison said.

When they travel, Allison makes sure that the McKenna-Knudsen family visits museums and delves into new experiences so they get fully immersed in the culture. Although, she still makes sure there is time for visiting the beach if the opportunity presents itself. Traveling as a family allows them to share the experience and grow together.

Family and spending time together is very important when it comes to the development of children. According to the article “How Not Spending Time With Your Child Affects Them” by Jennifer Brozak from Livestrong, “Not spending enough time with your child can lead to a multitude of detrimental behavioral problems.”

Spending time as a family has a strong influence on children and shapes them into the people they are, and become as adults. Claire has felt the effects of how her family has shaped her into the person she is today.

“They [my family] taught me what to do and how to be who I am today, and they’ve also showed me what not to do, and that’s really important to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes with them,” Claire said.

Allison also expresses the importance of family bonding and child development.

“I think when there is a lack of family structure, kids can tend to feel lost without the support they need,” said Allison.

As children grow up, they tend to pull away from their family and seem to have lower tolerance for family shenanigans. Even though her family might get on her nerves occasionally, Claire wouldn’t want to change anything about them.

“If I changed anything–then they wouldn’t be my family,” said Claire.