3 Steps to a Closer, Stronger Family
“I wish my kids and I were closer.”
One of the letters I received recently on Psych Central’s Ask the Therapist feature echoes a lament I hear regularly.
Another parent writes, “I feel like times together are either too tense or too boring. What can I do?”
Still another says, “My two teens are either out of the house or out of touch. How can I keep them involved with the family?”
Parents want to be closer to their kids. They want their kids to be closer to each other. They know that tweens and teens need the family more than they think they do. But sometimes it seems like modern family life conspires against togetherness.
Parents are stressed by working harder than ever if they have work; are stressed and depressed if they don’t. Kids are so connected to the peer group through texts they seem lost to another universe. The teens who are striving to get into good colleges are spending hours on homework and more hours in extracurricular activities to build up their resumes. Those who want or need money work after school and on weekends. Those who are depressed or don’t care retreat to the privacy – and aloneness – of their own rooms or corners or to the street. The computers, TVs and smart phones beckon to everyone in the family. What can a parent do to combat the ever-present electronics and the siren calls of the peer group?
There are dozens of books with hundreds of pages of advice for how to keep the family close. Many are good ones. But if you are too stretched to read them, here’s a short how-to:
Togetherness = Time + Talk + Teamwork
Time: A group of people can’t be a family unless they spend time together. Parents have the right and obligation to make demands for together time, even if kids whine, complain, and otherwise object. If you place a value on family time through action as well as words, the kids will eventually accept it and value it too.