Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

5 Ways to Enhance Family Connections

By Dyan Eybergen, RN © 2010

The definition of the family over the past century has evolved and changed many times. From extended relatives living within the same house or community to the “Leave it to Beaver” persona of the 1950’s and 60”s to the dual family income of the women’s movement with increased divorce rates and single parent homes, to the fast paced technologically advanced family of today.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult for families to stay connected in a climate that obstructs physical proximity to one another. Children are over-scheduled with sports and academic commitments. Advances in transportation and technology have increased mobility where children are separated from extended family members by thousands of miles. Much of our communication has been dummied down to text encryptions devoid of salutation or sentiments, and face-to-face interactions between family members are few and far between. Family “time”, traditions and rituals are eroding and causing dire consequences for our children.

Without family connections, children will not develop a sense of belonging. They will not have an understanding of heritage or what stable relationships look like and will therefore have difficulty establishing their core identities. In search of themselves, children are being forced to go outside their homes to find where and with whom they “fit in”.

Here are some ways parents can create family unity and stay connected to their children:  
  • Regularly schedule a family meeting where members can air issues and concerns and work together to find solutions. Children learn the value of teamwork and cooperation in this manner. They also gather a sense of unity and loyalty.  
  •  Set family traditions and reinforce their meaning through practice. Traditions are usually embedded in a family’s heritage. If you don’t have any, start creating some. When children have something tangible that helps define “who” their family is they feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
  •  Have family reunions with extended family members – plan them for as often as you can get everyone together in the same place. In the raising of children, it really does “take a village.”
  • Once a month (or more often) have a “no electronics weekend”. Shut off the television, iPods, computers, video games, Blackberries and cell phones and commit to spending the entire weekend with your family playing board games, hiking, biking, cooking or reading aloud together.
  • Plant a family garden. Get the family working in nature’s classroom and grow together.
What other ideas do you have?

Dyan Eybergen is an award winning author and nationally recognized Canadian speaker and CTV parenting expert. She lives in Alberta Canada with her husband and three sons. For more information visit



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