A Strong Family is built on Strong Relationships
This column is all about building a Strong and Spiritual Family. But a family is more then just one whole unit, instead it is built of the many different relationships of the many different people within it. And these relationships need to be strong, but how does one go about building a family comprised of strong individual relationships?
Well there is a sort of three part answer to this question. Fellowship with the adults and fellowship with each of the kids. And to remember that having fun and practicing fellowship together as a family are important but the time for the individuals and for the adults are just, if not more, important.
As parents we are tasked with several important jobs. First we work to keep a clean and ordered house. One that our kids can feel safe and continue to be healthy in. Second many of us work at a job, to bring home money to pay the expenses of running a household. We are also charged with the task of raising our children and correcting them when they misbehave. On top of all of this we are tasked with keeping a strong and straight face and keeping the stress and problems of raising a family from our children. What I mean by this is that we may, at times, have problems paying the bills or paying for the miscellaneous expenses that arise, and while we do not need to lie to our kids, they do not need to feel or be exposed to those stresses at a young age.
These things, as we all know, can be tedious at best and world-ending at worst. If we just focus on all of this and our family then we face a sundry of assorted stress-related disorders. In fact constant exposure to stress is one of the leading causes of disease in our modern and western world. We need to make and take the time for ourselves and for our partner(s). A chance to decompress and unwind. Just remember to do this without guilt. Tell yourself that “you are a worthy individual, deserving of good things and the chance to spend time on yourself.” Because isn’t that a true statement?
Now I know that this is and will not be an easy thing to do, especially for new parents or parents of very small children, and even more difficult for the single parents among us. But it is something that we should work very hard towards doing and take the opportunity when we have the chance. Whether we take thirty minutes between work and picking up the kids at the daycare/school; Or we wait until the kids go to bed and turn down the lights and have a small candle-lit late-night-snack with our partner or ourselves, any time we spend will be time well-spent.
Remember though that this is not about just finding time for the adults together, it is also about finding personal, quiet and alone time. Because with the duties of being a parent we also have the responsibilities of being a husband, wife or partner as well. And we all know that sometimes our patience can be stretched in those situations, often times to or near our limit.
No one that I have ever met and talked to has a perfect relationship with their partner(s). We all face trials and tribulations and it is important that we take to “find ourselves”. If we do not truly know who we are then how do we know how to respond in a relationship and as a parent? So as we go forward from today, remember that you deserve time with your partner(s) and deserve time to yourself. Don’t let the daily minutiae bog you down with the specifics. If you find yourself with to much to do then maybe you need to go back and re-examine the chapter on reducing clutter, how much in your life do you really need? What can you cut and still provide the happy and content family life that we are seeking? Remember that family should be our first priority. This being said how can we give it our full and best attention if we are stressed out and nearing the end of our patience?
Now that we have covered two parts of the answer, onto the children.
We as parents live very busy lives, from our jobs to paying the bills and yes even to our hobbies (if we find time for them) and it is easy to sometimes forget about the kids. I mean we feed and clothe them and take them to their sporting practices and events, but we don’t often make them a priority. It is easy to do and often times they don’t complain because they are content in their cycle of school, homework and play and also because DVD players make this very easy to do. I am guilty of this myself on occasion when I am busy.
Yet if we are to have a strong and united family then we must include all parts of the family, right?
But when we get home from a long day at work we have to prepare dinner and lunches for tomorrow. Then we have to catch up on the dishes and the laundry and help the kids with their homework (which really isn’t quality time) and before we know it bedtime is here and the time to spend with the kids is gone. So what is a busy parent to do?
So what are some other things that we can do as parents to give our kids more attention? Here is a small list;
- Listen to your kids – Now I know I already covered this back at the beginning of last week but it bears repeating here. When is the last time that you just sat down and let your kid tell you about their day or how they are feeling? Now remember this is about personal attention so do this on a one on one basis, if you are blessed with more than one.
- Talk with your kids – The other half of listening is responding. I talk to my kids like they are adults, not only does this help their vocabulary but it gives them that respect. Try it out, kids will often try to fit the respect you are giving them.
- Give your kids a note – For those times that you are really too busy to sit down for a conversation. Just send them a little card that says “I Love You”.
- Just have fun with your kids – Be a kid again, it will do you good. Run around silly and climb trees, just remember you aren’t a kid any more so be careful. Play dress-up with your little girls and fort with your boys or vice-versa.
- But the most important thing to remember is to just be there when they need you. Reach out to them when they are little and they just may not completely shut you out when they are teenagers and need you the most.
So when you finish reading this, go find, or buy a board game and tonight or even right now sit down with your kids and play it. Then take some time over the next few days and sit down with each of them, separately, and have a long conversation. I can’t tell you what to talk about, that depends on their age and your individual family but just talk. The point of the conversation is to find out what is going on in each of your kids’ lives.