Most parents today find themselves, too frequently, living within a haze of the multi-tasking, work related activities, which the 21st Century careers, and technological communication advances, have initiated. Time spent with the unique and loving members of a family is not only critical to their wellbeing, it’s very beneficial as well, and can lengthen life spans.
Designating time which is specifically set aside to engage in entertaining, challenging, “hands-on,” and unique projects, and activities for everyone to enjoy together, rewards each family member in matchless ways. Loving, silly, nick-names are created, quirks, and skill sets are identified, and appreciated, interests are enhanced, social skills are taught/learned, sharing happens, and stress disappears.
Memories are created, savored and stored for future retelling to the next generation. The wonderful-ness of family bonding, benefits children by the simple act of increasing their self-worth; and by parents doing the foot-work to create long lasting, committed relationships.
2) Nurturing Positive Behaviors Through Simple Acts – Mealtime
Nothing replaces the feeling of being valued within a family. Truly knowing many of the faults, mis-steps, weaknesses and warts of each family member, their likes and dislikes, and fully loving them anyway, is an extra-ordinary gift. Allocating a routine mealtime offers a consistent opportunity to share and experience: healthy food choices, new tastes, smells and textures, current events, laughter, and humorous happenings, that make up “a day in the life” of everyone. This shared time builds upon positive attitudes and ideals, as well as, teaching children a specific value system, which connects the generations, and creates family traditions.
Mealtime sharing builds trust, offers comfort and nurturing to the family as a whole, and for the children, it creates an identity based on being an important part of a related group, who function well separately, and together.
3) Taking time to “CHILL” Together
In today’s popular culture, children spend frequent net time for hours per day. Caring parents feel the loss of connectivity and are having to become more ingenious in engaging their children’s attention, participation, and focus, on a whole new level of captivating activity.
Being creative isn’t difficult if parents observe their children’s interests. Involving them in:
• rhyming games using sounds and names
• spelling contests of words with more than 6 letters
• discussing weird scientific discoveries
• storytelling with expressions and acting
• reading out loud with a British accent
• playing instruments together .. a mashup
• having family meetings to plan exciting adventures like geo-caching or a hot air balloon ride
• learning a trendy language –Bengali/or Portuguese
• Playing timed Rubik’s Cube challenges
• sharing family history, serious or “pretend”
• listening and dancing the Dab, to music
• Teaching pets’ silly tricks
Taking the time to chill, slow down, and do thought provoking, and engaging activities with children, tweens and teens, from praying together, to leaving little notes in unexpected places, and yes, hugging and laughter, have a powerful effect on their becoming well-adjusted, and able to organize, problem solve, value family time, and take responsibility for their actions with confidence.
4) Sharing the Concept of “Mattering”
Research has shown, for decades, that raising happy, healthy children is about so much more than good nutrition, great schools, and participating in an enormous number of extra-curricular activities. Although these elements have worth, family interaction, and giving your children the full attention, they crave and deserve, is the key building block for their happiness and success.
Savvy parents give their children the priceless gift of “mattering”. When a child feels that their existence is important, and that they are loved, and counted on to continue the values that parents exemplify, such as honesty, hard work ethics, religious convictions, and empathy for others; their own lives become significant and meaningful in every way. Listening to children and teens, respecting their feelings, sharing their interests and hobbies, being as non-judgmental as possible, and “showing-up” at school events and other activities, instills self-worth, and positive social skills, which they will have for a lifetime. Mattering is a critical gift, given by parents who make family time a priority for raising strong, loving, positive human beings.
5) Teens and Family Time Shared
Parenting may seem to grow more complex as the tumultuous tween and teen years transpire. The need to become more independent, to test boundaries, to be private, and use the word “no” as a complete sentence, and the answer to most inquiries, is very normal. Friendships with peers become the focus of their existence, and life’s challenges are magnified beyond reason, to these hormonal, young beings.
Wise parents, (known to teens as the “Rents”), understand that families are a “live” work in progress. Having home become the go-to-place to hang, for teens and their friends, allows for trust and respect to continue to grow for everyone. Communication is critical, and good parental listening skills are even more crucial. Teens open up spontaneously when: trust and approval are given, family time is shared, closeness remains abundant, fun is still a constant, confidence is gained, and the challenges brought on by grades, peers, social media, relationships, moods, and more, are easily managed.
Teens Do What?
Teens have copious amounts of energy and are easily bored. They like to brainstorm about every kind of activity that seems cool, new, innovative and challenging. Whether its rock climbing, inventing an Asian-infusion, or Vegetarian pizza from scratch, hiking under a full moon, paddle boarding in Maui, or running a marathon for charity, these interests are significant to young, almost-adults, and provide the necessary opportunities to share “real time”. Embrace whatever they choose to love and do with family and create one-of-a-kind rituals which reinforce feelings of affection and attention. Their grades, confidence and personal choices will reflect the quality of time spent, gentle guidance, patience and attention. Parents feel greatly reduced stress, stronger bond building and a purpose-driven existence which has worth and happiness.
Making quality time happen with your children, let’s them know that they are with you, in your heart and your mind, at all times, not just when there is down time, or a holiday, weekend happening.
6) Instilling and Cultivating Emotional Intelligence
Recent research reveals that family time can boost kids' self-esteem, enhance social development, and teach them the tools for building relational bonds. Here are 5 new ideas for outdoor and indoor activities with the kids that will create special memories for the whole family, while enhancing their innate ability to manage their feelings and emotional intellect by sharing, caring for others, and solving issues with peers:
- Owning imperfections (humanness) as a parent, when engaging in activities, winning or losing, at family soccer, football, or challenging new board games like “Blank Slate”.
- Acting with kindness, always with family or strangers, traveling, sharing the beaches, trails, “glam-camping” on camp grounds, or driving the open road to anywhere. Be what you want them to see!
- Teaching children and teens how to focus, and “listen” to others, and to be someone people will want to spend time with, as you watch the sunset on the Mojave, or step on the red rocks of the Colorado mountains, where dinosaur footprints remain, and share “full-on fun” and the pure joy of these moments.
- Discovering your family’s unique traits by investigating your own DNA, through board games like “Who Am I” and other sources. Realizing that what is inherited can be extremely interesting, and valuable to understand and embrace.
- Teaching that everyone, family and peers, have deeply unique, real feelings, which must be respected, when engaging in real-world or on-line social, work, and group activities, like volunteering in the community, for a worthy cause, or posting feelings and opinions on a social media site.
Parental Healing, Child Succeeding
Parental words, actions, and behaviors have the influence to shape their children’s temperament as they begin to interact in the world. This on-going commitment to their wellbeing, and the happiness of the family unit, is enormous, but also very fulfilling. Often parents carry the wounds from events which they endured in their own childhood. Raising, loving, happy, enthusiastic human beings is do-able, if parents try new ways of guiding, embracing, supporting and imparting wisdom, with positivity, tolerance, humor, fun and connection. Parents benefit as their wounds heal, while guiding their children toward health, happiness and great confidence to become a viable and successful global citizen.