Written by A. Noelle
National Family Month was created by KidsPeace in order to emphasize the importance of family and encourage mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, relatives and caregivers to support each other. It is now our time to share special moments with relatives, help deepen or renew the relationships between siblings, and stay involved with our children in order to strengthen their confidence and help them visualize a brighter future. With the kids out of school and vacation plans in progress, summer presents us with a great opportunity to reinforce the family unit.
Here are some great, simple suggestions for making the best of National Family Month:
1. Have dinner as a family at least twice-a-week. Set aside some time to sit down to a meal with the entire family. You might even consider cooking dinner as a family; have the kids help out with the minor tasks like tossing the salad or setting the table, and have the older teens help out with the actual cooking. Talk about the day’s events; ask your children about school; and share some of the funny or interesting stories from your office or work. Dinnertime offers a great opportunity for parents to listen to their kids; the small change can help family members stay connected despite everyone’s busy schedules.
2. Hold a family game night once-a-week. You can stick to the traditional card and board games, or try out some newer technologies – the kids definitely won’t mind weighing in on this. When they’re finished with their homework, get the kids moving with the Wii or Xbox; or enjoy a fun outdoor sport that can be played in the backyard. Let them decide the activity, or take turns having people decide. It’s a good idea for families to stay active together; parents can help encourage their children to exercise more while the kids can help introduce Mom and Dad to new forms of gaming.
3. Spend some quality family time together without electronics. Silence the iPhones; turn off the iPads; and get yourselves off Facebook. Have the entire family ride their bikes around the neighborhood; go for a hike in the nearest national or state park; or simply take a walk together to talk and catch up. Make sure the kids know and realize that you are setting aside time just for them. If you’re the mother of one or two teenage daughters, consider an impromptu shopping spree – or as my own mother and I sometimes like to think of it, “Window Shopping Spree.”
4. Visit your children’s godparents or favorite aunt and uncle. Spend the day by allowing your siblings or best friends to spoil and dote on their favorite nieces and nephews. You might consider holding a backyard barbecue or going on a family outing to your favorite restaurant; you could even have a nice picnic or swim at the beach (if you’re a coastal family) since the weather is right. National Family Month is a great time to reconnect and bond with the extended family.
5. Remind your children that you’re always available to talk and help them when they are in need. Check in with the kids occasionally to see how they’re doing, and constantly remind them that you are there to support them. Make sure they understand that they can always come to you for advice. Sometimes, it can be hard for kids to approach parents with difficult subjects; but continually encouraging them to come to you with their needs can help open the door to more serious conversations. There’s no need to constantly force them to open up and share their problems, but it’s important to let them know that they always have someone to whom they can turn.