It’s important not only for parents to have a close bond with their children, but for siblings to be just as close. Nothing in the world is safer than a family who sticks with each other through thick and thin.
My sisters and I like to point out to my mom how she did a great job raising us. My youngest sister is in her second semester of college, on the route of becoming a doctor, while the middle sister is married, about to finish her degree in Public Health and working with a great internship. Myself on the other hand, I’m a mom to 4 amazing kiddos, my husband owns his own business, and I find time to write and spend the days going to lunch with my mom. We always give her a little boost to her parenting skills whenever we bring up how we didn’t party, tried to stay with the crowd, and didn’t drink or do drugs. Sure, we gave her some usual parenting headaches, usually in the teen years (sorry mom) but overall we credit her parenting success, which is still work as we are her adult children, to how close she kept us as a family. We didn’t go to parties, because we were too busy doing things together. We chose our sisters and mom over movies with friends. Of course we had the freedom to do what we wanted and would love seeing our friends, but our mother had raised us to love being with the family more than anything else.
As I’m in the process of raising my kids, I find myself doing the same things she did as we were growing up. Family time is so important to me because I want my kids to feel safe within their family. While the world out there is truly amazing, no one in the world can comfort them like their family. Instilling their confidence in their family is a great way to build a secure base for them to then go out and conquer the world.
1. Have Meals Together
Growing up, we had dinner at the dinner table every night. I admit that when our days are flustered, I’m quick to allow the kids to eat in their rooms, or in the living room while I try to catch up on cleaning or if I’m busy with the baby. I try my best to remember that giving them the time where we share a meal with each other is one of the easiest memories I can give them. They always take the time to talk about what happened during the day and what they are looking forward to (and not) for the next day.
2. If One Goes, We All Go
Our days can get pretty busy. We have soccer, dance, and technology club that fills our days and evenings. Basically how this rule works is, if one kid has soccer, we are all going to the soccer field that evening. Sure this doesn’t apply if daddy is home from work early and the baby is sick, but usually we all will bring a blanket or play in the park while we cheer on our little members of the family. At ballet class, it really means a lot to our youngest daughter when she can look up and see her big brother and sister smiling at her and giving her a thumbs up. It may mean keeping an extra eye on a couple of more kids, but keeping everyone together while we are at different activities helps keep them close and supportive of each other.
3. Let Them Build A Fort
There are so many times were I walk around my messy house, spend an hour deep cleaning the hell out of it, when a tornado that is the kids comes and magically turns it back to its messy state. One thing I try to remind myself is to say yes to things that the kids want to do together. Usually indoors this means making a fort, making a tent, or putting on a show with their teddy bears. While I cringe at the mess that will come after their fun, I tend to smile and let them have at it. That fun bonding time that they are asking for is important for their relationships with each other.
4. We All Must Help Each Other
When it comes to clean up time, I first delegate tasks that belong to each child. Tasks like “clean up your own room, make your own bed, etc” so that it’s fair. Sometimes though, I’ll have one clean the others’ room, or have an older child organize the youngest ones toys or shoes. I used to get a “well I didn’t make that mess” or “that’s not my toy”, but I’m quick to tell them that in this house, we help each other. I point out that I don’t have to do the things I do for them, but because I love them, I”ll do anything for them, and that’s how they should feel as well. I never get another argument after that. I’ve also found that now they naturally help each other without me needing to tell them.
5. A Limit on Private Time
Don’t get me wrong. I am big on private time. If mom needs her space, I understand that each child needs their space as well. All of my children have time to close their doors, be by themselves, read a book, and or watch TV alone. There are times when my oldest daughter will flat out tell me “I just want to be alone for a little bit” and when that happens, I get it. But there is also a time where I don’t allow them to be alone anymore. All doors must be open and I invite them to come do something else. I tell them to “come out of their cave.” Sometimes I’ll tell them to make up a game with their brother and sisters, while other times we’ve just got in the car and suggested on a place to go to. Most of the time, we end up just calling them into the living room, getting under the blankets and watching a movie as a family. So far, no complaints.
– As they get older, take their phones away, take iPads away, and have them present in the now and with the family
– Take an interest in the things they like doing. If they love laser tag, it’s time to suit up and go play
– Talk with your child. Instead of asking how there day was, ask them about their friends, what’s the worst thing that happened, and what they did at recess
– Have your child cook with you or have them pick their favorite restaurant for dinner
– Has your child been talking about a movie for weeks? Take him and go see it with him.
The way this worked with our family is this was our normal family time. As we grew up and made our own decisions, the decisions we chose were still based on family time, because to us at that time, it was important.
By staying close as a family, one thing that also seems to be smaller are arguments and fights. Study after study has shown that the family is the biggest contributing factor to a child’s happiness, confidence, and security. By making these steps to ensure your family stays close, you’ll be able to give them the boost they need to succeed in the world.
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There is an old saying that we are programmed and hardwired in our first decade of life from our MFPT; mothers, fathers, preachers, and teachers. These relationships, and the health of them, have a profound impact on how we define what a healthy relationship should look like.
Think of your parents. How they interacted, communicated, touched, and related had a profound impact on your choices and expectations when it came to your boyfriends and girlfriends, the friends you have and your sphere of trust.
We as parents have an opportunity to help set in, deep within the “wiring” of our children, what a healthy, vital, and loving relationship can look like. We have a dramatic impact on their standards to navigate their own relationships.
The parent interaction is the most important relationship your children will observe. It has the most amount of influence on their body and mind, because for no other reason than you are their parents. Children learn through modeling. They watch your every move, listen to every word, and see how you express yourself in a variety of different situations.
As robotic as it may sound, they are being programmed. They are actively absorbing information on how to live, what gets them approval, attention and love, and how to respond to stressors and challenges. And this information drives deep into the brain and body.
It is our actions and reactions as a couple that can have a dramatic impact on how children create expectations of healthy relationships. Although they are seeping into the unconscious, our behavior as parents helps to define love between two people; physical boundaries, communication style (verbal and non-verbal) posturing under stress, when to embrace or push away, and how to resolve conflict.
This is how traits, expressions, and even problems “run” in families. Through our actions as a couple, we teach our kids. We show them how to be resilient, relate, rebound and resolve through our daily actions. Yes, we can sit down with them and talk to them consciously, and we can also be responsible and allow our actions to be unconsciously modeled for their future.
We all handle challenge differently. Let’s face it, relationships can be tough. Do you ever have those times where you are having the most difficult time opening up and loving your spouse? Or those times where there is an unspoken irritation between the two of you? Those times where you go for a quick kiss only to feel the coldness, or where they are trying to talk and you just feel closed off from connecting?
There is no doubt that when you have two adults living under the same roof, disagreements, arguments, and misunderstandings do happen. It’s a reality.
The question is, when tensions rise, how do you handle yourself? Do you scream as you yell down the hallway and slam the door? Do you confront your spouse loudly and aggressively? Do you turn your head and eyes away in conflict? Do you get snippy and irritated quickly? Do you simmer and stew for days without a resolution?
In many cases, how you respond right now in a relationship, is a pattern you observed from your parents.