Connecting with your children on a daily basis, even if it is just for a few minutes can make a big difference in the outcome of any given day in the family household. Today’s world looks and feels very different from what it did a generation ago. Parents are of course working hard, long hours, while children are more involved with extracurricular activities, such as sports and civic clubs, and that awful cell phone where they text 10,000 messages in a day to their friends. Families are very busy these days! Nevertheless, did you know that research tells us that the more our children feel connected or attached to their family unit, the less likely they will be involved with drugs and alcohol or risky behavior?
A parent can connect many ways with their children. If you can manage it, get up a little earlier in the morning and if you do not already, drive or walk with your child to school in the morning. Plan a “spontaneous” road trip to nowhere, maybe just for ice cream. The nice thing about moving cars is that you have your child as a “captive audience!” The car is a great place to ask about their homework, talk about what is happening in their upcoming week, or even pick up small clues to any potential problems.
Try to have as many family dinners in a week or month as possible, even if it is just once. Make it a time where everyone helps in the kitchen, or contributes to a special dish. Maybe you could designate one person in the family per week that gets to pick out and even cook the family dinner for the week! Let them pick out a recipe in a favorite cookbook and take them shopping for the ingredients.
Family Board Game night is a fun and effective way to meet up with your family. There is nothing like playing a good game of Monopoly if you have teens, Scrabble, or old favorites like Aggravation, Life, or Candy Land. There are even fast-paced games if you lack the time such as Barrel of Monkeys, Yahtzee, or a simple card game like Crazy 8’s. Laughter and fun can take a seemingly difficult day to a happy ending in a matter of minutes. Invite their friends over for snacks and games, as it is rare to meet a child of any age that does not have a hankering for some good munchies.
Create a space in your home that is inviting and warm, open for discussion, and a culture that is considered an “Open Door Policy.” If you make it, they will come and the benefit is that you would have accomplished your goal…Connecting with your kids! The truth is, they need you in their life, they want you to bug them, and they miss you when you are gone. Despite their attitudes and moodiness at times, your kids love you and no one can replace you. So, step up your game as a parent and go the extra mile of telling them and showing them how much they are needed and loved. Your investment of connecting with your kids will most certainly bring you big returns!