Apr 13, 2011

What Front Porches Are For

Right now I am hanging out at my mom's house on her front porch.  We've been here in Mississippi for about 4 days visiting family while my kids are on Spring Break.  Whenever we are here, the central meeting point is the front porch.  It's been that way for years.  My mom's house is almost 40 years old.  It's what I called "home" from 4th grade until I married and established my own home at age 28.  It's a unique house in that there is a long front porch that runs most of the length of the front of the house with five columns that support it. For dozens of years it has been the central meeting point for the family.  It's adorned with all kinds of plants in front, planter boxes, wind chimes, hummingbird feeders, two porch swings and three rockers.  They don't make houses with porches like this anymore.  Now, houses are made with large "great rooms" where the television set is the central point for the family.

The porch and front yard are one of the things that make visits home so special.  This front yard has witnessed dozens of football games, times playing catch, and wrestling matches.  From this porch my stepdad and my sons look for planes that we hear flying overhead.  My mom and I had dozens of conversations about life, faith, and the future in these rockers.  It's a place that makes you face your neighbors when they drive up and down the road.  Now, we don't even know what our neighbors look like, much less their names.

Perhaps one of the reasons we have so many problems in families today can be traced to a lack of front porches.  Perhaps one of the reasons why teens struggle so much with the issues they face can be the fact that their parents were more concerned with the "man-cave" than the front porch.  I have read dozens of studies about the fact that children and teens who engage in weekly conversations about life are much less likely to engage in destructive behaviors.  Maybe they should do a survey about the lifestyle choices of teens who grew up in a home with a front porch and how much time they spent on it with their parents.

I know my theory isn't full-proof.  I know that a front porch doesn't insure good choices.  I am fully aware that my brother and I made plenty of bad decisions and suffered the consequences for it.  I just wonder how many more we would have made if we'd have spent more time in the den and not on the porch.  Just a thought.


brenda said...

When your Mom and I were little girls, our Granny Doughty's front porch was the same kind of place for us. We lived upstairs in Granny's house for a few years. I still have wonderful memories of family times on that porch. Every time I visit Columbus, your Mom and I wind up on that porch and we have had some wonderful talks there. I also am grateful for that porch and all it means to our family.
I love you and your sweet family!