Keeping up with family can be hard, especially when your plate already has so much on it. Making time for your immediate family can be difficult enough, but finding time to encourage and communicate with your extended family can be even more challenging.
Still, you’ll find several benefits in helping your children keep in contact with their extended family as well as spend more time with you. In the United States, the average size of a family is 3.15 people. By forging stronger bonds with your immediate family and fostering relationships with your extended family, you set your child up to have an excellent support system and lasting connections.
Connecting With Immediate Family
Depending on your child’s age and emotions, you may find it challenging to connect with them on a personal level. Even if you have nothing in common with your children, you can find ways to spend time with them and teach them the value of family, especially in times when life might be complex or uncertain.
1. Tell Stories
While bedtime stories might be great, you won’t find a replacement for stories rooted in truth. Stories about your family can be passed down through generations and kept forever, even after you’re gone. Tell important stories to your children often, and they’ll do the same for their own families in the future.
Kids of all ages love to hear historical tales, and they will undoubtedly be interested in what your family did decades before they were born. It’s a little taste of the past that they can pass on to friends and family.
2. Ask About School
Especially during tumultuous times when in-person learning isn’t always an option, your child may need some extra help to stay attentive in school and on top of their learning. Making sure they’re engaged in both schoolwork and homework can help them be more successful. Do your part as a parent to help them remain excited about the content their teacher presents to them.
If they need help understanding the material at home, attempt to explain it yourself. If neither of you can find the answer, help your child make a list of questions to bring to their teacher the next day. You can offer your child the support they need during tough times and rapid changes in learning by simply asking questions and allowing them to express their fears and frustrations.
3. Answer Questions
When your child wants to know something, you should answer to the best of your ability. Giving them an honest answer to their question, no matter how tough it may be, can help them build trust in you and provide a model for honesty that they can emulate. It can also help them see you as a source of wisdom and someone they can go to with other, more intense questions or problems in the future.
While you might answer their questions, you should ask them questions, too. Conversing about their interests, favorite school subjects and friends can help children understand that you want to play an active role in their lives.
4. Talk About Emotions
Communication solves many problems. By encouraging your child to talk about their emotions from a young age, you can equip them to solve problems in the future better. Offering them the communicative vocabulary early on can prove effective as they grow and mature and enter into situations where they may have to utilize the problem-solving skills you taught them.
Through your open and honest conversations together, they will learn how to better communicate what they’re feeling and understand that their emotions matter and shouldn’t be bottled up. Get connected with your child and let them know that you can support them however they need you most.
5. Spend Time With Them
Carve out a chunk of time every week to spend as a family. You shouldn’t have any outside distractions, nor should you let anything distract you from this time or schedule any events that could upset the balance of your family ritual.
Whether it’s playing a video game your teenager likes, with them, reading a book aloud as a family, or watching a much-anticipated movie, you’re fostering bonds with your children. Your relationship with them will grow stronger as a result. You might also find something that you’re interested in by partaking in their interests!
Connecting With Extended Family
The pandemic may have affected how often your children see their extended family. If your family is spread out over several states or unreachable cities, you might have found it challenging to keep in contact with them during such an unpredictable time.
Now is the time to start planning to see loved ones again as long as it’s safe for everyone involved. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child. Keep your bonds strong with your extended family so your children have the chance to know them.
1. Choose A Contact Day
Pick one day out of the week to devote to contacting your loved ones. This process could be an exciting time for your children, too, if they love talking to their aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on.
On this day each week, reach out to family members via email or schedule a video call. Spending time with your children, even if it’s virtual, could mean the world to older family members who may not be able to see them grow in-person.
2. Plan A Vacation
While you may go on short vacations with your immediate family once in a while, when can you say you last went on a vacation with your extended family? You can stay connected to one another via a social media website or a shared calendar and pick what dates work best for you.
Creating a group with a news feed can also be beneficial to share your family’s accomplishments with others. Your family members can then comment on what your children may have achieved, and then you can read the comments to your child. Or, if they’re old enough, they can read them for themselves.
Knowing they have family in their corner cheering them on can give a child a significant surge of confidence when they try complex tasks in the future.
3. Take Pictures
Pictures are essential to capturing the memories and feelings of a special day. In uncertain times, you may not know when you’re going to see a family member again. While putting one another’s safety first, you should aim to capture moments in film.
You can create albums for your extended and immediate family so everyone, including your children, can remember the fun times you had when you were last together.
Spread Your Roots Wide For Better Branches
Family, including extended family, is a web that waits to catch you or your children when they fall. If your bonds are strong enough, that web won’t break, and you can enjoy knowing your loved ones will be there for your family through thick and thin.
By strengthening familial bonds, your child will have a more robust support system as they grow up. Until they can pick their chosen family in friends and other loved ones, your children’s extended and immediate family are their only authentic familial sources of support. It matters that they have a genuine, lasting connection that can withstand the test of time.