We have all seen the TV shows with the happy family sitting around the kitchen table, and a beautiful dinner being shared over busting conversation. As wives and moms, when we see this we can’t help but wonder, “Is this really what family life is supposed to be like?” The answer is yes and no. Yes, a family is supposed to spend time together and talk to each other, but no, it does not have to be over a beautiful, time consuming dinner (pizza delivery works just fine). The most important thing is that you are bonding through family time.
Now you may be asking, “How in the world are we supposed to find the time to have family bonding, and is it really that important?” Yes, it is vital to your family relationship that you make time out of your busy schedules for family bonding. If you are like me, you are probably thinking that you already have plenty of family time. After all, we have 2 or 3 football games a week, we drive them to and from practices, we drive to and from school everyday, and we all ride to church together, is that not enough? Well sadly, no it is not. You may be in the car as a family, but you are not spending quality time with each other.
You see, the quality of time is more important than the quantity of time. Quality family time consists of the parent talking, listening, and bonding with their children. Instead of just being a chauffeur, show genuine interest in their lives. Children can sense when their parents are present and available to them, and this creates a sense of belonging and security for your child. Also, build your children’s self-esteem through praise and encouragement. Instead of constant criticism of their faults, draw attention to their good qualities so your children feel proud of themselves. Finally, no matter what their age is, hug them, kiss them, and show affection to them! Your kids should always know that you will always love them, no matter the circumstance.
I know in today’s busy world that many people are working more and more hours, and adding endless lists of activities onto their schedules. It is because of this that making time for quality family bonding is essential. We do not even realize the huge influence family life has on our children. It is during this time that our children learn how to deal with relationships, cope with certain situations, and learn valuable life lessons. This is also when we can take the time to instill in our children positive family values. Remember, if values are not being learned at home, they will be learned elsewhere.
I want to be clear that quality family bonding time does not always mean sitting around the dinner table every night. Trust me, I know that is not always possible. However, it does mean making a commitment to adjusting your schedules at every opportunity to allow for family time. Of course, at first you may get a few raised eyebrows, but don’t worry about how this looks to other people. God calls us to be radical and different, and there is nothing more radical in today’s society than slowing down and intentionally spending time with your family.
Exactly how you spend the time is completely up to your particular family. There is no right or wrong, just make sure it is quality time. You may decide to watch a television show, read a book together, play a board game, take a hike, or just sit and talk. Use this chance to enter your child’s world. On some occasions, you may want to let your children choose how to spend the family time. And yes, it is perfectly OK if they choose video games (we have had many fun, family nights playing Mario Chase)! But, whatever your family decides to do together, you must commit to it. As you spend more and more time togther, you will see a very special relationship of trust and acceptance develop in your family.
Quality time needs to be a priority for yourself, your marriage, and your children. One of the ways to make sure that you are spending quality time is to worship together as a family. Teaching your children about Christ and the gospel will will make a major difference in their lives. If Jesus is the foundation of our families, what else do we need?
Family bonding can also be achieved by taking advantage of and savoring life’s ordinary moments. The next time you are driving your kids to school, have everyone put their devices down (or if you are like my car, turn the music off) and have a meaningful conversation. Ask them how their day was, what is going on with their friends, or if they have questions about anything that they have recently seen or heard. Or the next time you share a meal together, start it off by asking each person one thing they would like to pray about, and then pray for everyone’s requests. Just make the most out of every opportunity you get. Our children will not stay young and under our roofs forever. Cherish and savor each and every moment that God has given you together as a family.