Do you know your family?
You may think that’s a silly question. “Of course we know each other,” many parents would reply. “We live under the same roof. We see each other daily. We go on vacations together. How could we not know each other?”
Yet, in an important sense, many parents and their children are almost strangers.
The time many families spend together is crammed with wall-to-wall activities. Mothers and fathers ferry their kids feverishly about—a play date here, a practice there, not a moment to spare—tethered by cell phones and sustained by meals on the run. You can’t really know your children if all of your time with them is spent running to and fro in a frenetic whirlwind. Genuine intimacy is impossible under such conditions.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with activities per se. Nobody’s saying kids should just sit at home. Involvement in sports, for example, is incredibly beneficial for children—especially for teens.
But it’s critical to stop and reflect on what might be missing in their lives—the most important physical “thing” to their development: you. Family time makes a huge difference.
Take something as simple as the family dinner. Sure, it’s nice, but who on Earth has time? The bottom line is, if you believe it is important (which it is), you need to make time.
How to Save Your Family: Schedule Time With Them
Back "in the day" when our now grown children were living at home, we designated nights when we would eat together and told our kids, “Your friends are welcome to join us.” This firm but inclusive directive made for many now-treasured evenings when we bonded with our children and their friends. I know in my mother’s heart that the time, laughs, and discussions had a powerful impact on all of them. And they certainly did on me. And now that they are gone.....I am so very grateful for every minute we were together.
Just your “being there” also helps your children. A comprehensive study, drawing on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, notes that “teenagers were less likely to experience emotional distress if their parents were in the home when they awoke, when they came home from school, at dinnertime, and when they went to bed, if they engaged in activities with their parents, and if their parents had high expectations regarding their academic performance.”