Family relationships more important than ever

Family relationships more important than ever
                        

I hope many of you are planning to spend family time to celebrate Mother’s Day. Whether you are close enough to visit in person or utilize technology to visit, building and maintaining strong family relationships are more important than ever.

Family relationships have changed through the years. Distance separates many of us from our parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family. Sometimes when we do make time to talk, it’s about the current schedules, what’s going on this week or what the needs are for the week.

One of the assets the Search Institute talks about is being connected with our family members. It helps our children feel grounded, and it helps us all feel like we are a part of a linage in history. Families mold our values and traditions. We may laugh like our aunt or have the story-telling ability of our grandfather. Or we may be ornery like our uncle and have talents like our grandmother. Some of those things we won’t know if we don’t take time to ask the right questions and listen for the answers.

In this hurry-up world, time is a precious commodity, and unless we are intentional with our choices, it slips by. Following are a few questions I found to increase the depth of conversation either around the dinner table or on the phone the next time. See if you can answer them or ask your parents and record the answers for your children:

What happy memory will you cherish forever?

Growing up, who inspired you the most?

If you had it to do all over again, would you pursue the same career path?

What were you like in high school?

What do you wish you had made more time for in life?

Is there a family tradition you value most?

Do you have a favorite place you’ve lived or visited?

Who in our family do I remind you of?

What values are most important to you to pass on?

Whether we are beginning a conversation or strengthening the relationships we have, remember making time to talk is valuable. If you are a grandparent reading this, tell your grandchildren the stories of your life and help them think about their own goals and dreams. Model the values and tell them why they are important to you and how they influence your life.

It’s reflective to have conversations about raising families too, points like child development or how they coped with certain behaviors. Remember experience may count for more than what Google can provide and often has more positive outcomes. What do you expect from a toddler or a teenager? Those questions can open the doors for many rich conversations to build upon for the future.

Ultimately, they know there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all try, and we all have successes and challenges. Many times older family members have time and patience to give to children that offer self-confidence, time to explore interests and hobbies, and most importantly their unconditional love.

Strong families don’t just happen — the more time you spend together, the more opportunities you will have for sharing quality experiences. Starting conversations when the children are young builds a foundation for the challenging times ahead. Nurturing those relationships through life allows a rich relationship with aging parents.

For more information check out the Search Institute at www.search-institute.org/.

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension family and consumer sciences educator and may be called at 330-264-8722 or emailed at hill.14@osu.edu.


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