OBSERVED annually on May 15, International Day of Families highlights the importance of families as basic units of society. According to the government, the day reflects the importance that the international community attaches to families as basic units of society as well as its concern regarding their situation around the world.In 1993, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly announced that this day will be celebrated annually. The UN states that this day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase the knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.A few years ago, the UN adopted a set of goals to eliminate poverty, discrimination, abuse and preventable deaths, address environmental destruction, and usher in an era of development for all people, everywhere. Families and family-oriented policies and programmes are vital for the achievement of many of these goalsWith the global Covid-19 pandemic that is currently taking place brought forward the notion of putting in place social policies to protect vulnerable families, as they bear the brunt of crisis. Speaking on the importance of this day, Valerie Govender of Focus on the Family SA said: “Not surprisingly, a strong family identity helps children develop a strong and healthy self-identity. Knowing what makes their family unique — traditions, values, ways of relating to one another — gives children a clear starting point for discovering their own place in the world. Studies even show that kids who report a strong connection to family tend to be less promiscuous and face less risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”Govender adds that parents must not underestimate the positive message they are giving to their children by being present in their life, by watching their games, driving them around or even being with them in many different ways.BELOW ARE SOME STEPS ONE CAN TAKE TO HELP FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY:• For those with spouses or in marital relationships, it would be kind of you to work out plans together for the year. Prior to filling up your diary with business appointments and other busy schedules, outside your relationship, it may be helpful to slot in portions of your time in the calendar year with your spouse’s needs.• For those with children (especially younger kids), it would be helpful to not only slot in your year planner their birthdays, but also to provide space for quality time to be with them during the course of the year. Children need security. The continuous absence of parental figures in a child’s life is, most of the times, the cause for insecurity and instability in their growth process. Most rebellion we see in children in our society today is as a result of insecurity and instability in the home. You can make a difference this year by taking the time to be with your kids or grandchildren at their most vulnerable times of life - when they are in search of acceptance, security, boundaries and more than anything else - the need to be loved.• For those with ageing parents or grandparents, it would be kind of you to try and make their lives most meaningful by keeping close connections with them. The most fearful experience of an elderly person is the fear of loneliness - to be alone. Try to be there with them during this year.• For those with ill and bed ridded friends or family members, please take the time this year to stay close. What make a difference during those moments of pain and suffering are two important and most overlooked factors of healing; presence and touch. To be present in someone’s life, when all the freedom they had is lost makes such a big difference. A touch on somebody’s hand or forehead during their moment of suffering is as great as walking with someone through the thick and dark Amazon jungle.• For those who had no time in the past year to connect with friends, it is time to work out possibilities of reconnecting. Pick up a phone today and make a call, none of us is assured of tomorrow, make the most of today.