Family bonding time is integral in raising happy, healthy children. It is the specifically designated time which families spend in the pursuit of various, fun and interesting activities, building a connectivity or very strong bond. It is for parents, an opportunity to have healthy dialogue with their children and be a role model of good communication skills, as well as, the correct social behaviors needed to interact with confidence and success in the world.
The most current research on family bonding has shown that children crave the excitement of having adventures and making a “hands-on” connection with nature. They thrive in the environs that surround them by simply building a tree house, star gazing, watching the planet Mars travel across the center of the sun, together, having a family scavenger hunt, hiking, biking and camping (backyard or campground). Too many children are now fully engaged in the “wired generation”, and sit for hours, interacting online with every kind of digital device. Parents know that a sedentary life is not a healthy one, and the fast-paced on-line type of activity of the internet swallows their attention and focus, leaving them isolated from family and nature deficient. It’s true that the outdoors can be risky, with cuts, bruises, bee stings and scrapes which can occur, but the benefits are priceless. Parental guidance for safety, and teaching by example, the incredible wonders of outdoor play and exploration in the natural world, helps children gain self-confidence as the family participates in tree or rock climbing, skiing, skating, boating and much more, if only in their back yard, or at the local park. Talking about family adventures, together, sharing the planning, discussing safety procedures, and emphasizing the intriguing kinds of exploration which can be achieved, is a tremendous bridge for building a relationship as strong as steel.
Make Music the Family Glue
Adding an element of music to family bonding brings numerous, invaluable benefits to families. Memories made while listening to music are very special, emotional, and never fully leave the mind. Using the numerous neurons of the brain to learn to play, perform, and or appreciate music, at an early age, actually designs the brain to enjoy the many sounds of instruments and musical rhythms for a lifetime. Recently, a new study from the Journal of Family Communication found that playing music, listening to it, or singing, together, is more than just a pleasurable experience. This activity requires an effort of cooperation and generates empathy, wellbeing, and positivity. Harmonizing, and singing along with each other, produces feelings of safety, love and trust that have held families together for centuries. Music is in many ways, its own language, communicating with the listeners, its meaning, through sounds which evoke strong emotions, and solidify the continuity of family, for generations, from young children to tweens, teens, young adults and their parents. It offers the listeners the element of surprise which children, and teens too, enjoy enormously. Through harmonic structures, music brings families constantly changing tempos, rhythms, and melodies. It is considered to be crucial social glue because all humans are wired to embrace it. For every special occasion in family life experiences from birth, with lullabies, to birthday parties, traditional holiday celebrations and weddings, the music enhancing endorphin release experienced during recreational moments, and pivotal times, creates what research has labeled strong group identity. The action of listening together for enjoyment, is a proven, integral component of a strong and well maintained, long lasting relationship.
Pause Wi-Fi for Family Game Night
What may seem like a millennium ago, when today’s parents were kids, families would gather together, look each other, eye-to-eye, and play with great enthusiasm, every kind of interactive game imaginable. This kind of simple, real-life, stress-free, spirited play was not only fun, it had priceless benefits for everyone as communication flourished, and child development thrived. Today, the often over-committed family needs to play together even more. Competing with digital devices is daunting, but for the most heroic and loving families, adding personal touches to designated time shared, offers far greater joy, and lasting connectivity than any screens, import devices, tablets, mice, and keyboards ever could, even in this 21st Century.
Getting off of wi-fi and into incredibly challenging board games like any of the 21 versions of monopoly, cookie dominoes, or Pie Face Showdown with loads of whip cream, the unboxing and surprising varied Lucky Poke Games with 24 finger-poking challenges to get unique rewards to collect and enjoy, or even a family-invented Olympics Night, with thumb wrestling, best sports selfie, (timed), one-handed pushups, indoor bowling (family designed), put together puzzle mania, (last piece in wins). Many families are making their own fun-night bucket list of activities not yet tried, unique and tasty snacks to cook together, movie and museum nights to share, and outdoor time spent in nature, skiing, skating, tubing, and musical events to attend that shared interests build upon. The healthy competition, laughter, silliness, and even inventiveness that develops within the family unit, is truly bonding time, and promotes feelings of togetherness like nothing else.
Stuff Suitcases and Travel
Whether the family get-away plan is a road-trip to leave the burbs and see the city, or state-to- state, looking and finding cultural diversity within your own nation; making travel plans as a family is a unique way to share time in exciting new places which inquisitive young minds find fascinating, as they witness historical sights, palette pleasing cuisines, and delight in the art, music, language, customs, sports, and beliefs of other cultures. Bringing along your “classic car games”, a playlist that the entire family put together, and interesting audio books, gets your tribe to their destination, peacefully, and the time shared is priceless.
Parents today, realize that children must understand that they are global citizens, in “one” huge, shared world. Learning how other people live, thrive, receive their education, and pass traditions to the next generation, creates empathy, tolerance, respect, awareness and a deeper understanding of how diverse and yet the same, numerous groups of human beings which populate the earth, truly are, as they embrace the commonality of being productive, and raising their children to be the kind people everyone would want to know.
Volunteering – Family Style
Volunteering is an enriching experience for families. It gives parents a chance to model the behaviors they wish to instill in their children in ways that are not only selfless and compassionate, but that also build within them gratitude for their blessings and warm/ fuzzy feeling that are shared when a community comes together to help their citizenry. Many organizations and non-profits who rely on volunteers in every community are making their activities much more family friendly. Whether its decorating reusable grocery bags and stocking them with food for a Feeding America food bank, or crafting holiday cards for soldiers who are overseas, gathering blankets, coats, warm socks, water bottles for the homeless, or building a hot chocolate stand and giving the proceeds to charity. Every family member can contribute something from their own efforts to others. Sharing this experience together, not just at the holidays, but when there is a need, is a special kind of bonding for families, like no other, which creates stellar memories and teaches the far-reaching impact of doing good deeds.
Family Night Out
Make your Family Night uncommon and unique, occasionally, by doing something new and unexpected. A trip to an Escape Room is challenging and many are designed for family fun. Take a train ride, subway or Uber to a near by city for dinner, let each person pick their favorite cuisine. When the night sky offers meteor showers or other events, find a clear destination, create special snacks, and take in the display together. A bike ride to the frozen yogurt place, and a race back, is always a popular choice, as is seeing the latest sequel to a favorite movie. Involving everyone in the family night-out choices is a great way to know each other more deeply, respect each other’s interests and build a loving bridge of trust and respect.
The List of Shared Experiences is Endless
The only limit to the kinds of shared experiences families decide to undertake is how much imagination is imparted in the process by everyone. Showing love daily with cuddles, hugs, and positive praise, prayer and play time together, encouragement, focused listening, and treating each other with special kindness, often, should be the number 1 priority in family life. There is no greater gift that can be given to strengthen family bonds than by making the effort, often, and with each person’s wishes and interests in mind, to spend both quantity, and quality time with them, altogether, engaged genuinely in fun of every conceivable kind.