- That families are the cornerstone of America;
- That family reunions are occasions that renew the feelings of love, pride, and support that nurture our lives;
- That there is no more joyous and poignant family reunion than the return to the family of a child who has run away from home.
One change: the month. Family Reunion Month is now July. What has not changed significantly is the problem of runaways. The number of young people between the ages of 10 and 17 who run away from home is estimated by the federal government at more than one million annually. Less measurable is emotional stress of the family going through the experience of having a runaway child.
Make a difference for runaways
In the spirit of the original proclamation, we can all play a role in helping families with runaways or returned runaways, or in improving situations in our own families that may otherwise lead to the flight of child.
Regarding the former, volunteers are often needed to help staff crisis intervention programs. Regarding the latter, parents can strive to keep open lines of communication with their children and take steps to strengthen family relationships.
And let’s not forget the value of an official family reunion; you can do much to strengthen family ties through gatherings and activities such as family reunions that involve as many members as possible. The very act of family gatherings of relatives can help participating children and teens develop a sense of belonging.
Strengthening that sense of having significance by relationship can help them through difficult times, potentially reducing the chance that they may run away from home.
Statistics on runaways in the U.S.
What motivates children to run away? The main reason – an estimate 42 percent of the time – is family problems. Other reasons include peer pressure (14 percent), drug or alcohol abuse (5 percent), or physical abuse (about 4 percent).
Celebrate Family Reunion Month
- Celebrate the core unit of your family by scheduling a get-together event this month. It can be as simple as a favorite family meal or sport activity. It can be made more special by taking turns at the dinner table, giving each person a time to be in the “spotlight” while the other family members each share one thing about that individual that they appreciate.
- If you have extended family in your town, consider an impromptu mini-reunion. Unlike a major gathering of the geographically scattered relatives, a local event for local family groups can be done on the fly and affordably. Consider having a family picnic-and-games day at a local city park, for instance.
- Are you a college student, away from home? Most likely, your parents would appreciate seeing you, at least hearing from you, more than you realize. Consider celebrate Family Reunion Month by dropping by (and not just to do laundry) or making a call (and not just for money).
- By yourself or with your family members, get involved with a local organization by volunteering at, for instance, a runaway shelter, orphanage, or crisis intervention group.