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A New Year's Resolution for Your Family
A New Year's Resolution for Your Family
Jan 12, 2011
Making News Year's resolutions is typical for many of us at this time of year. We vow to lose weight, get more exercise, make more money, become organized. But have you considered making some resolutions that could improve the life and well-being of your family?
In the course of daily living, we often fall victim to our relentless busy schedules, to do lists, children’s activities and the challenges of balancing work and home. We forget that in the scheme of things it is our relationships and the connections to the people we love that matter.
This is not just a platitude. The latest brain research is telling us that the quality of our interpersonal relationships literally shape the brain and affect the growth of the mind. And this continues throughout the life span!
So if we are interested in enhancing our children’s development in all areas, and attending to our own growth and development, thinking about how to nurture these connections is crucial. Here are few ideas to consider:
1. Resolve this year to schedule weekly time for just you and your partner. This could be a traditional date night, or just spending time together after the kids have gone to bed. Research tells us that 70% of couples say that they disagree more, have greater conflict, and are less satisfied with their marriage once they become parents. This stems from a belief that spending time on marriage will shortchange children. In fact, the opposite is true. Research has shown that the most successful marriages are ones where both partners continue to find time to enhance their relationship. And improving the relationship between parents has a positive impact on parenting and children reap the benefits. If this seems hard to justify just for yourselves, consider doing this as a gift to your children.
2. Assess and possibly rethink your family calendar. Look at your current calendar and all the activities that eat up your time. If your child is in an activity, so are you, since you are the one making the arrangements and doing the driving. Rank your priorities and see which activities can be dropped. Involve your children in this process so they can see that savoring time, and not just filling it up, is a value.
3. Schedule a time for a family activity at least once per week. This could be a game night or a movie night or an outing. Ask your kids for some ideas. Make a list, write these down on the calendar, and get started
4. Practice saying “No” to things that take you away from your partner and your family. This could be email, another work commitment, agreeing to serve on another committee or volunteering to bake another batch of cookies. All of these things are necessary and important, but know your limits. Ask yourself “How will this impact my family and my ability to be present with my family?” For some people, “just say no” is the way to go.
5. Be mindful of small, daily opportunities to pay attention and connect with your partner or your children. In any given day, there are a myriad of these often missed opportunities. Develop a habit of listening, and watching for those ordinary moments when children spontaneously share with us their observations or questions about the world. We miss them if we’re too busy, or too involved in cooking dinner, doing email, folding the laundry, and all those necessary projects. Make a promise to greet and kiss your partner goodbye when he or she leaves in the morning, and greet and kiss them hello when they return. For those of you who can not even fathom cutting back or letting go of schedules or agendas, this is the way to make a huge difference. You can simply watch out for these ordinary moments that are made sacred by our attention and our willingness to listen and connect.
6. Consider this book recommendation : The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties, by William Doherty. This book is filled with some very useful ideas about how to live in a family and bolster meaningful relationships with those we love best. It will get you thinking about family rituals, how to design them and keep them