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Family Time Is Quality Time

By Morrisa Drobnick, LCSW

The family that plays together stays together! As summer is upon us families will be sharing unscheduled time together. What to “do” with the kids? Try doing nothing… think how relaxing it sounds. It can be relaxing for kids too. Kids have no school, no extra-curricular activities, no homework, fewer personal commitments. Summer can be a perfect time to develop those meaningful moments in a parent-child relationship.

Children feel the pressure of our times; living life in the fast lane. They try to do it all. We need to teach our children to relax and help them slow down and experience life’s quiet moments. “Family time” can be a relaxed time that generates a family’s closeness, turning the activity inward, not outward. Spending quality time each day with your children playing, cuddling, enjoying “each othere” is important. Time together aids in your child’s emotional development as well as your family relationships. The “activity” part of family togetherness is less meaningful than we like to think.

Parents can spend all day with their children and not spend a focused moment with them. We can fill their days with camp, clubs, sports and vacation trips but that’s not giving attention directly. Children of all ages need “focused” time. A time when you put aside all other concerns and give you entire attention to your children. In our busy world finding “family time” may not always be easy. However, the rewards make it very worthwhile. When we give our children focused ime on a regular basis, every family member gets the message that they are important. The summer is a great time to start.

Q. I have three children all at different ages or phases of development. I can’t seem to find one activity that they will all enjoy or that would be appropriate for them all equally. If we plan something for our oldest child we end up suffering with the baby making the outing miserable. The reverse happens if we plan limited activities around our baby’s naps. We feel most guilty about our middle child who we seem to push into older activities instead of looking at what she might need for her age. Could you give us any help on how to split ourselves equally in three? Any suggestions? P.B. Bergenfield.

A. Dear P.B. There is no way you can split yourselves in three. I’m sure you already realize that. Forget about dividing your time equally. That is a trap – children cannot understand equal amounts. Focus on each of your children individually. Instead of being concerned about equal time, give your time according to your kids’ individual needs. Your baby may not enjoy or need the amusement park trip. If child care is an option, both baby and you will be happier. When your children are at different developmental stages it does become difficult to find one perfect family activity. However, family togetherness at this point can come from special time you set aside to just be a family. Call it family meeting time. Family meeting can be a regular scheduled time to share fun, good stories, and positive feelings towards each other. Regular meetings can promote harmony by providing time for establishing rules, making decisions, recognizing the good things happening in the family. It is a good time to point out strengths of individual family members. Parents need to enjoy their children; not just entertain them. Your children will remember the loving warm moments spent with their parents.


Q. I’m so bored. I am 10 years old and have nothing to do. My parents say I am spoiled because we go places; I just don’t think it’s enough. They say they can’t always take me and my brother wherever we want to go. They tell us things are expensive and that they can’t afford to do everything. I think this is unfair. B.S. Wyckoff.

A. Dear B.S. I am not sure what kind of an answer you’re looking for. I can say that sometimes life isn’t fair, and we end up feeling disappointed when we don’t get things we want. Disappointing feelings are a part of life. They’re not comfortable to experience but can be lived with. It sounds like your parents might not have said no or set limits with you when you were younger, which makes it more difficult for you to deal with disappointments now. Learning to spend time with your family is a process that should begin early. You are going to have a tougher time learning it now. Your parents are being honest with you. Things are expensive; perhaps it is hard for you to understand. Your parents can help you deal with disappointments now so that you will have less difficulty dealing with them later in life.