Every parent wants to be close with their children. We want our children to share their lives, their feelings, their fears, and their dreams with us.
Yet, as EVERY parent has experienced, it’s not easy to be close or stay close. There are distractions, temptations, triggers, and a number of other issues that make being close difficult, especially with modern, plugged-in children and teens.
Here are seven practical PARENTING ACTIONS that will help families be close.
Parenting Action #1: CALENDAR both quality Family Time and individual time with your children.
Parents love their cell phones. We use our phones to organize our lives and calendar events and meetings that are important to us: Business meetings, coffee dates, birthdays, soccer games, to-do lists. We schedule events that we don’t want to forget about and meetings to maintain relationships that are a priority to us.
So why don’t many families have regular Family Time? Answer: It’s not on their calendars. We calendar other things and we get those things done. Afterwards, we feel like we have been responsible people. But Family Time? “We are too busy for that.”
What are families busy doing? They are doing other things they scheduled. Does this iPhone calendar look familiar?
We have tons of medical research that speaks about the importance of “quality family time.” Kids need it. Parents need it. Families need it.
Modern parents, with plugged in children and teens, need to be aware of the difference between “quality Family Time” versus “time that the family is simply near each other” (and often plugged in).
Family Time is not a vacation where everyone is on their phone. Family time doesn’t happen on Saturdays when parents are driving to and from a game or practice. Family Time doesn’t occur when teens have their headphones on, nor does it occur while eating out at Applebees while the kids have their eyes glued to a screen. (Dang you, Applebees!)
How did we get here? There are a number of reasons why families don’t have quality Family Time. Overscheduling other priorities like sports, music and dance lessons, homework, and other people. Our children’s increased academic workload. Workaholism. Some adults have two or three jobs!
Screen addicted kids. Enabling parents. Laziness. Sports addiction. Weak parents. Lack of interest or leadership from parent(s). The false belief that quantity of time is more important than quality of time.
Families need regular time together breaking bread, going on adventures, making memories, learning new skills, laughing, serving others, sharing wisdom, speaking intimately, and feeling loved and connected.
The answer? Calendar Family Time.
It makes perfect sense. We schedule everything else! Of all the things we schedule, none are as important as Family Time. So open up your calendar app right now and put down a family hike in the hills of Las Trampas, a mother/daughter painting session at Canvas And Cabernet, a bike ride with your son, or head to the beach in beautiful Pacifica and learn how to surf together at http://norcalsurfshop.com/.
- Schedule family dinners. Set apart as many nights of the week as you can for all family members to attend mandatory family dinners.
- Schedule a weekend family outing. Saturdays 10:00-1:00 pm. Sundays 4:00-7:00 pm. Pick a time, put in on the calendar, and make it happen!
- Teach your children with your words and your actions the importance of family.
- Set screen rules: No headphones in the car. No screens on weekdays. Limited screen time on weekends.
- Quit and say no. Say no to any coach, any teacher, any sport, any friend, any principal, any person who tries to interfere with your family time.
- Consider calling Sean and asking how we can help your family become close.
How can Sean help?
Being a parent is the most difficult thing most of us will ever do. Our children will challenge us, stretch us, cause us pain, and bring out the worst in us. They will also bring us much joy, laughter, goodness, memories, and love.
If your family is hurting or struggling with communication or defiance, we would love to partner with you and help you to restore love and communication in your home. We come to you. We don’t want or need “an office.” We connect with teens while doing activities they enjoy doing and meet with families in their home. We are very effective at connecting with hurting teenagers and creating change and healing.