Family time matters

"Family time" is often interchanged with "quality time". Are they the same? No, I think that family time can be quality time but you have to make sure the quality is built in. Families can spend time together, but are you connecting, strengthening the relationship bond and making memories to last a lifetime?

How we spend our time together as a family matters. You may ask, "Why?" Here are some specific reasons. Just spending time with your teenager boosts their self-confidence. You are showing them that you value them. This self-confidence makes it easier for them to be social outside of the house because they know they are loved at home.

Taking the time to actively listen builds up your teenager's confidence in speaking and verbalizing their perspective. After all, were are training future leaders, and having confidence while speaking is very important.

Spending time with family strengthens bonds. Families who enjoy group activities will develop strong relationships and handle stressful situations with ease. As a military family we learned that our strong bond as a family made the many moves easier because we had each other for support. Moving was a stressful time handled much easier with the humor and love that our family shares.

If you are spending quality family time, you are teaching positive character traits. As a parent you are teaching your teenager that they matter. Teaching kindness and love by showing it are behaviors we want all our children to have and exhibit. Role modeling behavior is the best way to teach children values. It is said, "people never forget how you made them feel." This is true of teenagers. Teenagers are growing, facing social media pressure and peer pressure that is 24/7. As a family, quality time means focusing on each other and building each other up, and disconnecting from the TV and social media world. What a strong message you are sending to your teenager that family is the focus for that time!

It creates memories. As parents, once we depart this life, what do we want our children to remember? I want mine to have incredible stories, funny stories. They may not be perfect parenting moments but they are memories that will remind them that they are loved. What is an example of that? Our family was fortunate enough to take a trip to Egypt. The staircase going into and out of the Great Pyramid was tiny. We all walked hunched over, and the path was so very narrow. Our one daughter tripped going down the pyramid. She was not hurt, but we all laughed. Not her of course! I have to say when people ask about our trip for some reason falling down the pyramids always comes up. It is a fun memory, and one they will share with their own families one day.

One of our family quality times is dinner. I think we all eat far better together than if we were running out the door or going through a drive-thru. It is our chance to de-stress to discuss our high and low of the day. To be reminded that we are each very important to our family. That everyone has a voice, that we are all loved and laughter is always a part of the dinner conversation.

So, finding the time to have quality family time is important. It may in fact need to be structured. In today's world, life is chaotic, and sometimes we need to plan the time to work on building and strengthening the family bond. There is nothing wrong with putting it on the family calendar. That way everyone can plan for it. I also think that family quality time can be anything that you as a family enjoy doing without phones. The important part is that you are together and PRESENT, not overly distracted by external influences. I have had parents tell me that they cannot be without their phone because they may miss an important call. I ask, "Is that call more important than your family?" The response is always, "no." It is finding that balance. I am often reminded of the song by Harry Chapin, "Cat's in the Cradle".

I leave you with this thought....are you spending quality family time together? If not, make a change. Create memories, build up your teenagers self-esteem, and actively listen to them. It is such a short time that we all live together. Make the most of it!

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