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Meaningful activities for the family

  • My family lives together under one roof, and we share the same last name, but we don't "feel" like a family. How can I begin to put a sense of togetherness into this harried household? How do you put meaningful activities into your family?

Question: My family lives together under one roof, and we share the same last name, but we don't "feel" like a family. How can I begin to put a sense of togetherness into this harried household? How do you put meaningful activities into your family?

Answer: One way to accomplish that is by creating traditions in your home. By traditions I'm referring to those recurring events and behaviors that are anticipated, especially by children, as times of closeness and fellowship between loved ones.

In our family, the centerpiece of our holiday traditions is food. These holidays are wonderful experiences for all of us. There's laughter and warm family interaction throughout the day. We look forward to that festive season, not just for the food, but for what happens between loved ones who come together on that occasion.

The great value of traditions is that they give a family a sense of identity and belonging. All of us desperately need to feel that we're not just part of a busy cluster of people living together in a house but we're a living, breathing family that's conscious of our uniqueness, our character, and our heritage. That feeling is the only antidote for the loneliness and isolation that characterize so many homes today.

Question: We are not able financially to take long car trips or get into expensive hobbies. Could you suggest some simple traditions that will appeal to small children?

Answer: You don't have to spend huge amounts of money to have a meaningful family life. Children love the most simple, repetitive kinds of activities. They want to be read the same stories hundreds of times and to hear the same jokes long after they've heard the punch lines. These interactions with parents are often more fun than expensive toys or special events.

A friend of mine once asked his grown children what they remembered most fondly from their childhoods. Was it the vacations they took together or the trips to Langkawi or the zoo? No, they told him. It was when he would get on the floor and wrestle with the kids.

They would tackle the "old man" and laugh until their sides hurt. That's the way children think. The most meaningful activities within families are often those that focus on that which is spontaneous and personal.

This is why you can't buy your way out of parenting responsibilities, though many have tried. Busy and exhausted mothers and fathers, especially those who are affluent, sometimes attempt to "pay off" their deprived kids with toys, cars, and expensive experiences. It rarely works. What boys and girls want most is time spent with their parents – building things or singing in the car or hiking.

In short, many families have forgotten how to have fun in everyday experiences. The things they do together can become hallmarks of their years together. No toy to be played with alone can ever compete with the enjoyment of such moments. And they will be remembered for a lifetime.

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia and the Questions and Answers are extracted from "Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide" with permission. For more information, please contact:

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY MALAYSIA
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Tel: +603-7954 7920
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URL: www.family.org.my
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Focus on the Family's 90-second audio program is aired over TRAXX FM at 7.15 am Mondays to Fridays.

 

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