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Posts Tagged ‘achieving family closeness’

Training day has arrived. At least the first of many. Today I will talk about the difference between a family which functions in a healthy and positive manner, and the one which is just out to lunch. Here in America, we can honestly say, the breakdown of the family is a forgone conclusion.  What causes this breakdown? Is it the fact that any family these days that is actually together has to have both parents working just to pay the bills?

The reality is that 50% of the marriages in America end in divorce, obviously, both parents work, and juggle being single parents, or step parents in blended families, which adds yet another complex layer to the mix. Let’s just call all these different types of families the same for now, though I know each have different challenges. For our training session here, we need to focus on the individual ideas which can be applied to any situation.

Dinner Time: Whether or not you are busy, you must spend time together as a family. Make a special time, like dinner around the table every night if possible. If it is only twice a week, make everyone abide by the dinner together, and make a special meal for them.  You might also make a taco night or pizza night – whatever works for you, just make it something they look forward to. This is a nice time to get to know what’s happening in each others lives.  We were as poor as church mice when my husband was going to school, we would make mini pizzas with English muffins, homemade pizza sauce, and some sprinkles of cheese. The fact that the children got to help make them, made them delicious to them! ( Our children have told us recently that they never realized that we were poor, they were always happy. ) In our family, now that the kids are grown and out on their own, they tell me it was special to them that we all ate together. Now we do it every Thursday night “family night” with their spouses by their sides.

Read Aloud: Reading Reading out loud to your children is a huge tool for young children to grow closer to parents, start loving books, and have a sense of security and love. You all saw the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’, the children are enraptured listening to Meg Ryan read the story! We read the Junior Pilgrims Progress, and many “series” books at night before the children went to bed. All in jammies, piled on mom and dad’s  bed, they all listened as we read the stories, this was special time of cuddling, and being with their parents. No time?  My husband was commuting 65 miles to go to Med school at UCSF (Nuclear Medicine) , he left at 5:00 am every am and got home at 6:00 pm. after the reading, it was his homework time. We can all find time in our schedule if we make it important to us.

Traditions: Is there anything you can think of that you can make a tradition in your family? Do you have a specific ethnic background that have traditions?  We Americans have our holidays, but even then, do you teach your children what they mean, or why we celebrate them?  We have many traditions in our family, I chose to make it that way, because I had none growing up. Traditions are a bond that helps a child identify him(her)self with something grounding.  It is a constant- something they can count on looking forward to. I have an opinion that it is the lack of traditions, parental involvement ,or a sense of belonging in a family that has caused the rise of gang activity. It takes forethought and a bit of doing. Scrap booking together, or having a yearly camp out, going to get a new ornament for the Christmas tree, making handmade ornaments, doing something for a needy family or the troops, there are so many ideas you just need to figure out what rings your family’s bell.

Get Real: If you have absurd expectations of yourself, your husband, your children, your dog…you need to just relax.  Being damaged goods like I am/was I understand this all too well, but I had to learn the hard way.  For one, if you have your children in too many activities, you are a slave to their schedule, and you have a magnet on your fridge that says “MOM”S TAXI” get a grip!  Start editing the schedule, you and  your kids  will be so much better for it.  Oh, I have heard it all- you are worried that little Johnny is not going to have enough to keep him out of trouble… When are you getting to spend time together?  Is this your way of getting your “ME” time? If that is the case, well we have some real work to do. Believe me, their childhood is over in a FLASH!  I know, I am on the other side, and now I have nothing but “ME” time!  Too many activities adds too much pressure, which adds stress, which gives rise to impatience, which causes the child to think you are displeased with them. Totally counter- productive don’t you think?  Get to know what you child really enjoys, and support that to the fullest.  You are in charge, don’t let them dictate what the schedule will be.

A United Front: This is my most important advice I give to young parents, and newly married couples. You and your spouse are a partnership in raising the children. NO POWER OF VETO goes to either party. No arguments in front of the children, No go ask your… and cop out of follow up. You stand together on decisions, and back each other up.  If a child sees a weakness in this partnership, it WILL be exploited, and manipulated. This is especially hard for divorcees, but you must see how important it is to man up and get a handle on this. Talk things over, communicate!  Don’t let the kids pit one parent against the other. By the way, this starts when you bring that cute little bundle home. Yes- The day they are born.   Never let anything come between you. That means when you go to bed at night, there should not be a baby, a child ,or anything between you.  This is where the breakdown of your united front begins.  You need to teach the children that you and your spouse are together and you must show the children that they have a special place, and you have a special place.

Balance: One wise man once said that “the truth always lies between the two extremes”.  That statement applies to so many things in my book. Here for my application I am going to talk about the home environment. There was a woman I met years ago, who liberated me so much, when she told me, that my children will remember the days I played marbles on the floor with them, but never will they say ” mom always had such a tidy house”  On the other hand, if you have a mother who was compulsive and kept a museum like home, where there were feelings that if you dropped a crumb, you will be in trouble, Aghh! Who wants that! But nobody wants to go into a home where you can’t see the floor or counter tops.   The woman who played marbles with the kids was the balanced one, somewhat cluttered home, with clean kitchen and bathrooms, but knew that living was more important than cleaning all the time. The truth lies between the extremes. Not dirty, not museum- like, just the perfect balance to keep a stress free environment.  Chores need to be taught to the children, one friend of mine had three children, and they had what they called G.I. Parties on Saturdays. which were like a military style cleaning of the house once a week, with dad as drill sergeant.  Find whatever works for you, but don’t be overbearing.  The other thing I see is women making their pre-teens or young daughters be babysitters, and housekeepers.  Come on Mom! You should be training her how to cook, and sew, and do baking, not relieve you of your responsibilities.

To wrap up our first training day I will close with these thoughts… Parenting isn’t for cowards, it is a tough challenge, especially for those of us who didn’t have good parental role models. Remember that children learn by your example, and those ‘wee beady eyes’ of theirs take in everything!

2Pe 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness,

through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

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