Family Party: Passion for the Family! Interview with Maurizio Verona, President of the Family Party Association

Family Party: Passion for the Family! Interview with Maurizio Verona, President of the Family Party Association

We had the pleasure of meeting Maurizio Verona, President of Family Party, an Italian association founded by moms and dads in order to spread the joy of family life.

These days, large families are an endangered species, and with their loss comes the disappearance of that sense of belonging and meeting between generations that has marked Western society for centuries. These roots as well as the old, but perpetually relevant, feeling of “creating family” need to be recovered. How was Family Party born with respect to this dynamic, and how does it relate to it?

Family Party is an initiative born in December of 2008 from an idea conceived by two friends, Francesco Brunetto andmyself. Observing the lack of attention our society gives to creating and taking care of environments suitable for families, we glimpsed the possibility of satisfying a family’s need for fun and recreation by private initiatives and gatherings. Family Party was founded in the wake of the “Large Families” movement that created opportunites for family members from different generations to come together, often around a large table, in order to have the pleasure of meeting together and celebrating. A typical picture of these great family meetings was that of adults gathered around a large, long table rich of food. They would be absorbed by intriguing stories, while the youngest children chased each other outside playing in the open air.

They were simple, and perhaps innocent scenes that aren’t seen anymore, either because large families are disappearing, or because the divisions within families are growing. This is coupled with the fact that we have lost our appreciation for how great it is for an entire family to meet and celebrate together. We still believe that these values exist and we want to help the families that we meet rediscover them and to show our children how beautiful it is for the entire family to spend time together.

To whom does Family Party address itself, and who are the associates?

We address ourselves to any person that wants to share the joy of their own family life, to witness to how high and noble a choice it is to create a family. We gather families together to gain approval and interest with the plan of enhancing and promoting the institution of marriage and the family in society. We gather individuals and engaged couples toegether, with the goal of spreading among them the culture of joy that comes from taking in part in the project of creating a family. We are a spreading a new model concerning how to organize social and working life which is capable of raising the quality of life and of work, drawing upon the desire for happiness that every human being experiences. We are promoting the family’s wellbeing, and its capacity to receive, to care for its members, and to educate.

In order to be vital and offer prospects to its members, an association must be founded upon the strength of its initiatives. What are yours and what are your future projects?

All of our events are designed and carried out according to an approach tailored to the needs of both elder and younger. What is more, our Association organizes training events aimed at parents who, of their own accord, are interested in developing cognitive tools that are useful for becoming truly aware and loving guides for their children. We organize different types of events that are different in form, but united in the goal of spending a day together with the whole family—big and small—in local or open areas that are reserved only for our Association’s use. Among our different past initiatives, we have the traditional Feast of “Pasquetta,” or the day after Easter. This is our main event, held at a local venue (agritourisms, villas, parks, gardens, etc.) where we enjoy an appetizing lunch and pleasantly spend relaxing time together. Our formula foresees children eating lunch before adults, that way after eating they are free to play, helped by youth leaders, so that parents can calmly enjoy their meal.

At other events we have used the pic-nic formula, with themed outings such as gathering oranges or chestnuts. Both big and small are charged with gathering the earth’s good fruit, and later they sit together in the field to share the food they have prepared. What a treat, and so many sweets!!

We have also organized training meetings that included conventions and seminars regarding family themes, such as the Role of the Father. Held in October 2009, this meeting hosted Dr. Franco Poterzio, a psychiatrist and researcher at the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Milan. In this case, the event is organized so that children can be entertained in another venue by youth leaders while the adults are together in the conference hall. Lunch goes with the same schedule, children first and then adults, and after lunch they take up the conference again with a debate about the theme they are confronting. In the afternoon there is also a snack! Finally, there is our Summer Festival, a day spent in a Villa or Agritourism with a pool, where old and young dive in together to have fun with water games and an aqua-gym.

Our future plans are to continue the events which have characterized us to this day. We also believe that we have gained the experience and sensibilities needed for finally interacting with the social and institutional fabric: we feel ready to imprint our organizational style, “suitable for the family,” on socio-economic initiatives of wider breadth. Today Family Party works in the social environments that are most important and effective for raising awareness in busineses and the public administration. The goal is to incentivize the creation and delivery of services that will make all cities “family friendly,” by encouraging the launch of projects that are in line with families’ needs and expectations, and creating a web platform that involves parents and anyone who wants to be united to our community.

The topic of family and media is becoming more and more relevant. From what you are able to observe among your associates, as well as from you and your friends’ direct personal experience, what type of responsibility do parents have concerning their children’s consumption of media?

From our experience we have found there is a need to put a stop to our children’s use of media. For parents however, we have seen that these media are a way to keep children, especially the youngest, occupied. They are mesmerized by videos and eat without a question! We can say that unfortunately, these tecnological instruments have become “comfortable baby-sitters” that in many cases, relieve us from our parental responsibilites. Even though parents know it is not the best system, it is certainly the fastest way to make their children behave.

Without intending to demonize anyone, do parents manage to filter their children’s consumption of television (as well as Internet, social media, and videogames)? Is it honestly possible to have an intelligent, constructive, and shared middle ground between strict rules and unregulated, out of control use?

Filtering and maintaining a true middle ground in media consumption is truly difficult, especially because there are too many instruments available (TV, PC, Tablet, Smartphone) that need to be monitored. When there was only computers, it was possible to insert filters. With television on the other hand, a stable schedule for watching could be established. Today however, with all good intentions, parents don’t manage to stay on top of all the technology that advances so quickly. Our children however, and in particular adolescents, are much more prepared. From our experience we see that it is possible to make our children understand that they can have fun without the use of technology too. In our events, activities for children and teenagers are group or team games, or they involve interacting with nature. We can safely say that being involved in sports is another help in educating children to manage their media sparingly. In this case it is only necessary to limit their use after other committments such as studying and sports are complete.