“The family that prays together stays together” Unknown
The best part of growing up is the memories you make/made with your parents. The bedside stories, camping while roasting marshmallows, bonfire hotdogs, wrestling in the house, hunting, playing basketball or chess, long adventure travels, memorable dinners. Contrary to what most people believe the gifts given to children take a back shelf in their memories as they grow older. I can only remember a toy or two that I really loved, but the memories… will stay with me forever.
Below are essential practices that help strengthen family ties. As a parent, it is really not rocket science to develop these beautiful practices in a family. The effects will be propagated for generations to come and will keep your descendants together long after you are gone.
- Spending time together: allow me to add the word quality in the phrase. Quality time is the productive moments you spend together. It can range from reading a book together and discussing it, making dinner together( and it stops being a chore or a hustle), attending events or volunteering together, and even going to movies together. Some of these activities cost absolutely nothing but the time.
- Planning activities/Events/chores/trips together: Children love to be involved in planning activities that they will be involved in. They stop being robots in the house who do whatever they are asked to do. They mature faster and develop a sense of belonging and of being appreciated. In the process make fun and laughter a part of the activities.
- Developing family routines and code of conduct together: Charity begins at home. So does mental and behavioural growth. Asking children to help in developing or improving on the already existing codes of conduct at home helps them to challenge themselves into being more responsible. Chore planning can vary from mundane things such as making your own bed soon after waking up, brushing teeth, to developing a grocery shopping list or a trip. This reduces the urge to ask for purchases not planned for, or impulse buying. My family developed a good night hug, kiss and prayer routine from the time our kids could talk.
- Sharing spiritual growth and development together: Man is a spiritual being experiencing a physical journey on planet earth. Families need to share that journey together. Praying together regularly and praying for each other helps in bonding. Reading the Bible or corresponding spiritual books together enhances the spiritual intellect of every member of the family. It also helps in mapping out and defining the route which each individual takes in their physical journey/life.
- Motivating each other and correcting each other with love: Families members should be each other’s’ cheerleaders, keepers and supervisor. Life decisions can be difficult at times and one may need moral support or reprimand occasionally. Family members are a good source of strength and direction. Discussing thorny issues helps heal wounds and fortitude to the members present. At home, it is possible to get personal without losing the bond or the love. ‘the Lord corrects He whom he loves’(Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:6). If you do not correct each other, it means you do not care about each other enough to love them. Encourage each other when one needs affirmations and positive pushes.
- Communicate with each other: communication, communication, communication!! A paramount ingredient for human bonding. This is the only thing that can either bring together or scatter a family. It is important to make a deliberate effort to keep in touch with each other, share feelings, fears, love, complement each other. Diplomacy is always an ideal way of settling conflict. Verbal and non-verbal expressions of love enhance the members’ relationship. Just like geese on migration, the chatter should never stop.
- Being there for each other: In challenging times family bonding should be at its tightest. Even when words cannot fill the void or wipe away the tears, just being present and holding each other’s hands makes the pain or loss more bearable. There is a certain bond that develops when members of a family share their grief or pain together, and this bond lasts forever. Although calls, money, flowers, and cards are significant, the physical presence of a sister, brother, father or mother can bring a unique comfort during those challenging times. With globalisation and families scattered all over the world, the element of physical presence can be challenging. Therefore whenever possible make time for each other.
A family is the smallest unit of the society. The unit should grow as one while at the same time acknowledging individual differences of the members within. Each member has a unique role to play and accountability is required. Once the family fabric is strengthened, undoubtedly there will be a stronger and vibrant society, with less social, psychological and emotional problems. The vice versa is true.