Between school, sports, working, housework, homework, video games, laptops, cell-phones, texting, etc., it’s often difficult to find time for quality family interactions. Find a way to ensure you stay connected with your children.
The evolution of the family over the past century has metamorphosed through many definitions. From extended relatives living within the same house or community to the “Leave it to Beaver”, persona of the 1950’s and 60’s to the dual family income of the women’s movement with increased divorce rates and single parent homes, to the fast paced technologically advanced family of today.
It is becoming increasingly more difficult for families to stay connected in a climate that obstructs physical proximity to one another. Children are over-scheduled with sports and academic commitments that take them away from the home. Our form of communication has dummied down to text encryptions devoid of salutation or sentiments and face to face interactions between family members are few and far between. Family “time”, traditions and rituals are eroding over time and causing dire consequences for our children.
Without family connections, it’s hard for children to develop a sense of belonging. They may have a hard time understanding heritage or what stable relationships look like. In search of themselves, children are being forced to go outside their homes to find where and with whom they “fit in”.
Here are some ways parents can create family unity and stay connected to their children:
• Regularly schedule a family meeting where members can air issues and concerns and work together to find solutions. Children learn the value of teamwork and cooperation in this manner. They also gather a sense of unity and loyalty.
• Set family traditions and reinforce their meaning through practice. Traditions are usually embedded in a family’s heritage. If you don’t have any, start creating some. When children have something tangible that helps define “who” their family is they feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
• Eat together! As often as you can during the week. The gathering of people around food is rooted in almost every cultural celebration. Celebrate your family by coming together to eat. The dinner table is also a great place to have a conversation. Through dialogue we continue to know and connect with one another.
• Have family reunions with extended members – plan them for as often as you can get everyone together in the same place. In the raising of children, it really does “take a village.”
• Once a month (or more often) have a “no electronics weekend”. Shut off the television, iPods, computers, video games, Blackberries and cell phones and commit to spending the entire weekend with your family playing board games, hiking, biking, cooking or reading aloud together. Start with a “no electronics night” if a weekend sounds too daunting.
• Plant a family garden. Get the family working together in nature’s class room.
Dyan Eybergen, a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse, has more than ten years experience working as a therapist and parent educator. Dyan currently resides in St. Albert, Alberta, with her husband and three sons. Out of the Mouths of Babes is her first book. For more information visit www.childperspectiveparenting.com.