Conversations: Making Time for Your Kids
It's Friday. How many conversations—other than "Clean your room", "Stop bugging your sister", and "Do your homework"—have you had with your kids this week? Do you feel that weeks pass without one meaningful five-minute conversation between you and the rest of your family?
Finding time to really talk can be hard. Everyone—from the youngest to the oldest—is booked with activities every day. But the benefits of finding time for "talkable moments" are many. Kids who feel connected to their families engage in far fewer risky behaviors and have a stronger sense of self and purpose. So how do you find the time to touch base?
- Hold family meetings. You can meet once a week or once a month, but make the meetings mandatory and fun. Meet over a meal—send out for pizza, have everyone help with the cooking, or go out to eat at a favorite restaurant. Or meet over activities that allow you to talk—such as board games, jigsaw puzzles, scrapbooks, or family photo albums.
- Eat dinner together. Can't make it every night? Shoot for a few days a week. Schedule these dinners so that friends, work, sports activities, or other obligations don't interfere. Share family traditions and childhood stories, talk about the news or a funny thing that happened that day.
- Create a quiet spot for talking. A room with no TV encourages talking.
- Get everyone to help out. Something as simple as putting groceries away or washing a car can become a moment to remember when kids and parents have a chance to share an activity together.
- Give your kids your undivided attention. Multitasking is the norm these days, but it's hard to multitask your kids all the time. Every child needs to know the feeling of having his or her parent's full attention. Think how it feels when you know someone is really listening and focused on you. So put down the mail, turn off the computer, look at them, and give them your attention.
Of all the tasks you spend time on every day, making time for your family can be the most meaningful. Let your kids know that you value your time with them as much as you do your friends, work, or other commitments. Your finding the time to find out what's up with your kids may be the moments they remember best for the rest of their lives.