Family is everything. If you grew up in a strong family where everyone was close, you know just how formative it was for you and your view of the world. If you were raised in a dysfunctional family, then you probably wonder what you missed. Well, now that you have your own family, you have an opportunity to continue or correct your childhood upbringing.
The Importance of Family Bonding
Family bonding might seem like a cheesy phrase or cliché concept, but it’s more than something TV families do on half-hour sitcoms. It’s about spending meaningful time together with the purpose of developing a cohesive sense of togetherness.
“Children learn how to behave in society by watching their parents interact with each other and with the world,” writes Andrea Miranda of CBS Houston. “Family bonding times are a great way to model expected behaviors inside the family circle and with others in the community. Modeling expected behaviors is also a great way for the parents in the family to learn how to communicate to each other as well.”
Family bonding time also helps improve interpersonal relationship skills, mutual respect for others, societal values, and the importance of sacrificing for the well-being of others.
5 Tips for Better Bonding
Every family has a unique dynamic. So while bonding will look different for everyone, here are a few helpful tips and ideas:
Between soccer practices, dance recitals, after school programs, and homework, it’s not always easy to get the entire family around the kitchen table for dinner – but it needs to become a bigger priority for your family.
According to CNN, “Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families frequently are less likely to get depressed, consider suicide, and develop an eating disorder. They are also more likely to delay sex and to report that their parents are proud of them. When a child is feeling down or depressed, family dinner can act as an intervention.”
Kids in families that eat together also have lower stress levels, are more apt to like healthy foods, are less likely to smoke, drink, or do drugs, and even get better grades.
Few things put a strain on family bonding time quite like smartphones, video games, and TV. If you want to carve out meaningful time together, you’ve got to ditch the electronics.
Face-to-face time is important. If you must use electronics, use them together. This means playing video games as a family (something like Wii Party or Dance Dance Revolution is fine), or watching a movie that the entire family can enjoy. If it can’t be done together, then it’s not a healthy method of facilitating family bonding.
Games are great for all ages. They combine social interaction, competition, and meaningful face time. Team games are especially helpful, as they allow individuals within the family to encourage and rely on one another.
If possible, try to appeal to everyone’s game preferences. Some kids might like board games, while others would prefer to kick the soccer ball around in the backyard. Doing a little bit of both shows the family that it’s okay to try new things.
Take an RV Trip
Vacations and extended trips provide the perfect environment for bonding and getting to know one another on a closer basis. And if you’re looking for a way to kick your bonding into overdrive, a family RV trip is highly recommended. You’ll probably come away from the trip tired and exhausted, but it’ll be the good kind of exhausted. You’ll love your time together and may even turn it into a family tradition.
Create Family Traditions
Speaking of family traditions, anything you can do regularly as a family is a good idea. It could be something as simple as eating breakfast for dinner on Sunday nights, cutting down your own Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving, or traveling to the beach every summer. Traditions like these help to shape the identity of your family unit.
Adding it All Up
Whether you’re pregnant with your first child, or you have a family with teenagers, it’s never too early or late to think about family bonding. Hopefully this article has provided you with some useful resources and ideas for strengthening your relationships with your spouse, children, and loved ones.