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Be Creative! Keep Your Family Strong Year Round

With all the family vacations, reunions, weddings, kids home from school and just plain family fun, next to the holidays, the summer is probably the best time of year for family gatherings.

The role of families in our lives are immeasurable for the support, security and happiness they bring. Yet, we often hear negative statistics on the need to strengthen the black family. In our families, we’ve learned how to make situations work. Here’s some basic wisdom from black parents, grandparents and others on creative ways that help them keep their families strong year round.

Thornhill Family
Robin Thornhill (left) says her family enjoys the 'village' approach in raising her grandson, Josiah.

Robin Thornhill, educator: We shouldn’t be ashamed that it takes a village to raise a child. Operating with a village model, you keep the engagement going between family members. That’s why grandmothers are helping to raise children because that’s what a family is supposed to do. We take care of each other.

A. Peter Bailey, journalist:  Since none of my family lived in Harlem, I – as a single father - literally created an extended family for my two sons. I had two friends who were their uncles and two friends who were their aunts.  And then they had an incredible baby sitter they called Grandma.

Rev. Donald B. Wright, pastor: My teen-age daughter lives nearly a thousand miles away with her mother and stepfather. I needed to communicate with her in a way that had more substance than social media and phone calls. So I bought special stationery and started mailing her handwritten letters.

Rosalind Brooks, retired military commander: When it comes to the education of our children, my husband and I spend equal time at the schools. As far as the teachers and administrators go, they know him just like they know me.

Taya McMillan, health researcher: No matter what's going on, our family still has Sunday dinner together every week at my grandmother's house.

Martin Smith, financial adviser: To stay connected with our seven children and each other, my family and I enjoy road trips together across the country.

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We all need to be around people that we care about and who care about us. But we also know it doesn’t take perfection to grow strong families – just plenty of love, creativity and teamwork.

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP Black Community, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: Courtesy of Robin Thornhill

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