This week members of my Church all over the world have been studying in Genesis about Isaac and Rebekah, as well as Jacob and Esau. As I have studied about these great people I have also studied about family and the importance of marriage and children. I believe that marriage and family was ordained of God before the world was, and that it is essential not only to our eternal salvation, but here on earth it is also essential to holding our communities and countries together. It is the most important entity that exists on earth, above any government or institution that has ever existed. I also believe that protection of the family is the most important thing governments can do to create a healthy society.
No family is going to be perfect however, because we are all imperfect human beings. But there are some things that I think make a huge difference in family life and help to maintain not only a good core family at home, but when children leave home, helps to keep extended families together as well as helps our children create good homes where the family unit can thrive, even when none of us are perfect. Today I will tell you about several of my favorites.
Family dinners together are super important. Well, a family meal together every day. Some families are super busy in the evening, going every which way with work and activities, so maybe it’s breakfast together. But a meal together where everyone can sit down and just talk. No particular subject, just be together in a relaxed and safe environment where everyone can share their thoughts. My husband and I have also found that this is a great place to discuss concerns the kids may have, and often, the answers come from siblings rather than us as parents. This helps to keep the bonds between siblings strong as they realize they can help each other as much as we as parents can help.
Taking time to teach values. This is something that has really gone by the wayside in a lot of instances. Parents are relying more and more on schools to teach values, but that is not the school’s purpose. Kids should come to school with some basic values that are inherently human, like how to be kind, how to share, how to say sorry and take accountability for actions. These are things that every human being should be learning at home at a very early age. This obviously takes a concerted, conscientious effort on the part of parents to teach, but it doesn’t take a lot of time, it can happen naturally in every day situations.
Involving our kids in activities in the community is a great way to strengthen family bonds. I know that sounds really weird, because it’s not at home. But the key is to be involved as parents as well. If your kids love basketball, go and watch them play, volunteer to help with the concessions or stand at the gate. Let them know that what they find important, you find important too. Encourage the other siblings to go. My oldest loved basketball. My second child doesn’t particularly care for basketball, or any sport. But we required her to go and support her sister periodically. She would go and read, or at least we thought she was reading the whole time, until she would comment on a bad Ref call, or talk to her sister about a particular player during the game. Keeping them each involved in each other’s personal lives keeps those family bonds strong and diversifies each child’s outlook on life. One may be so focused on basketball that they never looked at any other sport until a sibling started rock climbing or some other new interest, and all of a sudden everyone has benefited by having their knowledge expanded because of something new.
Time. I have often heard that love in family life is spelled T I M E. Making time for just your family is critical. We like to set aside Monday evenings for just family. Sometimes we end up at a basketball game or some other activity, but we do it together as a family. Most often however, we are at home. Sometimes we play games, sometimes we watch movies, sometimes we go for a drive together, sometimes we just sit around and talk. Often, we have a gospel discussion, even if it is briefly. But making sure that time is taken together, without outside distractions. In some ways I think this one is the most important one.
Those are some of the things that we enjoy doing as a family, and things that we have made sure we strive to do with our kids. Some might call them traditions, and in a lot of respects they are. Good traditions are also a great way to keep families together, long after they have each moved on and started their own families. But, however you do it, family bonds are the most important, and the easiest to keep if we put forth the effort. I hope you take time today to make or keep your family bonds strong. What are some traditions you have in your family that help keep your family together?