https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/pexels-any-lane-5728314-scaled-e1608644747912.jpg241600Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2020-12-22 08:46:162021-12-21 17:45:2825 Holiday Conversation Starters for the Whole Family
The past year was crazy. Finances. Family. Working from home. Homeschooling. Navigating a pandemic. Stress. Anxiety. Depression. The present is hard. The future is uncertain. What happened to our family? What will happen next?
Rarely are our minds engaged in what is going on right now.
Our attention is so focused on what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow—we miss the right now. Sometimes we get jarred out of the present by our schedules, cellphones, and to-do lists. We often fail to stop and savor what we are doing with the people we are doing it with.
We aren’t “in” the moment if we’re not being mindful in our family. As a family, you might be together, but you don’t connect.
How do you avoid mindlessly running from one thing to the next—both physically and especially mentally? How do you keep the past and the future from creating stress and anxiety in your family’s present? Stay connected to each other? How do you promote the mental skills needed to keep sharp and “in” the moment with your family?How do you help your family avoid these stress and anxiety pitfalls and better appreciate the time you have with each other?
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing. The benefit is a more focused life with less bad stress and an increased ability to enjoy and connect with your family at a given moment.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, and it isn’t. It takes practice. If you’re like most people out there, you’ve trained yourself to put your mind in other places besides the present. And that, of course, affects your family.
Fortunately, practicing mindfulness in your family isn’t rocket science. There are several practices a family can do together to improve mindfulness. Here are just a few:
This can be practiced in your neighborhood, on a trail, or anywhere you can walk together. Coach your family to walk just a little slower than you usually walk. Use all of your senses to take in what’s around you. Smell the air. Listen to the sounds and look for sights that you might usually pass up. Feel the ground beneath your feet.
Help your kids to name what they’re experiencing: I see a bird’s nest in the tree! I can smell flowers blooming! I hear the crickets chirping! The ground feels rocky under my feet! You don’t have to do this for your entire walk for it to be good practice; make it a practice once a week as part of where you walk.
This is a great exercise, especially if you or your child is feeling anxious. The idea is to focus on your breathing. There are many mindful breathing techniques out there. I like the 4-7-8 technique. Sit comfortably with a straight spine and neck. As you inhale, count to 4 in your mind. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Then exhale, counting to 8, making a whoosh sound.
Be aware of your breath, the feeling of air entering and exiting your lungs. If it’s difficult to hold your breath for that long, speed up the counts in your head, but keep the same 4-7-8 ratio of time.
The idea is to be aware of the present by savoring food with all of your senses. For instance, if you’re about to eat a potato chip, notice how it feels in your hands (brittle, crumbly), how it smells (salty, baked), how it looks (the shape, the crumbs, the ridges), how it sounds in your hand and as you eat it (crunchy), and obviously, how it tastes (salty, vinegary, cheesy).
This practice requires you to slow down considerably when eating (which isn’t a bad thing with kids). Practice it using all kinds of foods, such as hard candy, bread, or a spoonful of honey.
Life is too short to have our minds anywhere else other than on what is going on at the moment with the people we’re with. Practicing mindfulness can help your family experience less stress and tension and focus more on the joy of being together. It doesn’t take much to exercise mindfulness in your daily family life. Take one of these exercises and try them out with your family this week. You will enjoy being in the moment with the ones you love the most.
Sound interesting? Find More Resources On Family Mindfulness:
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/pexels-august-de-richelieu-4262426-scaled-e1602530389797.jpg292600First Things Firsthttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngFirst Things First2020-10-12 15:19:582021-01-05 15:19:28100 Conversation Starters To Increase Your Family’s Connectedness
What is your spouse’s favorite thing to do in his/her spare time?
What is your child’s favorite meal?
Given the opportunity for a night out, how would your spouse prefer to spend the evening?
What person outside the family has most influenced your child’s life?
What accomplishment is your child most proud of?
If money were no object, what one thing would your spouse most want to purchase?
What household chore does your spouse dislike the most?
Who is your child’s hero?
What makes your spouse feel truly loved?
Now, go check out your answers to see how close you were to getting them right. Being truly connected to your family is the only way to know all the answers to these questions.
“From a cultural standpoint, the connections that people have with one another and through social networks have been shown to improve the mental, physical and spiritual health of individuals,” said Christopher Brown, anthropologist and president of the National Fatherhood Initiative. “There is something that happens physiologically when people are connected, which is why people do better when they are involved in healthy relationships with others.”
One of the most powerful relationships is between a parent and child. Studies show that parents are the first and most important teachers of children. Kids thrive when they can depend on a reliable parent when they need to talk, when they want input, when they need a hug, or want assurance that life will work out.
Research from the University of Michigan found that the connectedness that takes place during frequent meal times with the family was the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems, even better than time spent studying or in a faith setting.
Experts agree that:
Conversation at the dinner table shows to increase children’s mental and verbal abilities;
Eating together promotes good communication, and strengthens family bonds and relationships;
Families who regularly eat together have more cohesion and unity; and
Family meals give children a sense of security.
Connections count every day of the year. If you didn’t do so well with the quiz above, this could be a great opportunity for you to re-evaluate how you connect in your home.
This article originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 18, 2018. Click here to read the entire article.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/AdobeStock_244709582-1-e1598639010442.jpeg205400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2018-11-19 06:30:002020-08-28 14:23:42How Connected is Your Family? Take A Family Connectedness Quiz!
Technology and the family has changed so much. Years ago, people actually had to get up to answer the phone, the computer occasionally used to write papers, and the television only had three channels.
Now, people answer the phone everywhere, including the dinner table and the bathroom. While people write papers on computers, they often spend more time on Facebook or the Internet than actually accomplishing something.
And only three channels? Those days are over. On-screen viewing options are virtually limitless.
A 2010 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey showed that 1 in 5 American divorces involve Facebook. And, 81 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in cases that use social media for evidence.
One pastor even asked his congregants to quit using Facebook. Why? It’s because he saw so many couples experiencing marital problems because of connections to old flames through social media.
Research conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) showed that nearly a quarter of teens have communicated with a boyfriend or girlfriend hourly between midnight and 5 a.m. via cell phone or texting. One in 6 communicated 10 or more times an hour through the night.
Many experts claim that texting contributes to sleep deprivation because most kids sleep with their phone within reach. It’s hard for them to resist checking the notifications.
According to a 2010 Pew Internet study, fully 72% of all teens – or 88% of teen cell phone users — text. Among all teens, their frequent texting has now overtaken the frequency of every other common form of interaction with their friends, including face-to-face interactions. For example, teens use texting to enhance friendships, handle a conflict, begin and end romantic relationships and even to mediate difficult conversations.
The average person watches four hours of television daily, which equals six months of eight-hour days.
From family dinners and vacations to date nights and even Christmas morning, families are being slammed from every direction with technology, all in the name of staying connected. But, is staying connected with the outside world as important as staying connected with the people closest to you?
Perhaps one of the best things we can do is truly connect with each other. Families who are engaged with each other actually do better in every area of life.
Consider these questions:
Can you establish “no technology” time zones? For example, no cell phones or television at the dinner table – parents included. Maybe teens can leave phones in the kitchen at night and computers in public spaces. Perhaps time limits for social media could be helpful?
Would you rather your child participate in family game night or play a game on Xbox alone instead?
Is a family meal more constructive than family members eating on their own in front of a screen?
When your child applies for a job, will he be able to verbally communicate?
Technology is a lot like money. Families can either learn how to control how much technology invades their world or they can let it control them. Which would you prefer?
Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV for an in-depth look on this topic!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Technology-and-Your-Family.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-11-20 00:00:002020-12-04 13:42:58Technology and Your Family
Mealtimes are opportunities to connect and learn from each other.
For more than 40 years, Lynn and Pat Panter have been hosting family dinner on Sundays.
“It’s funny, this is just something we have always done,” says Lynn Panter. “When our children were little, we had Sunday dinner. As they got older, we kept on doing it. Here we are 40 years later with grown children, spouses, boyfriends and grandchildren seated around the table.”
Unlike some, the Panters don’t require or expect anyone to come for family dinners.
“There is no pressure to come,” Lynn says. “If they have something else to do, they know they are free to go do it with no repercussions for not being present. We usually have between eight and 16 people seated around the table on any given Sunday.”
Between the laughter, the stories and discussions about their day, it is always a lively experience and a great way for the family to connect.
“Even though my husband was on the road a lot when our daughters were young, the expectation was that we all ate dinner together,” Lynn says. “This was our time to catch up with each other and the events of the day. It kept us connected even when schedules were hectic.”
Research shows that regular and meaningful family meals offer a variety of benefits both to children and adults. Studies suggest that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week positively affects child development and is linked to lower obesity risk, decreased likelihood of substance abuse and eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school.
Additionally, meals provide a sense of family unity and identity as well as teaching traditions. Discussions around the dinner table not only give children an opportunity to express themselves, they also teach them to wait their turn to speak and hear many different perspectives. In some instances, they learn how to agree or disagree.
Family meals help parents transmit their values from one generation to the next and teach good table manners and etiquette. These times together as a family create a bond and shared memories that children carry with them long into adulthood.
The key to the success of these gatherings is making them technology-free zones – no televisions, tablets, or cellphones allowed.
“Some people probably wonder why we still have the Sunday dinners.” Lynn says. “I think the biggest reason we still do it is because we really enjoy being together. We look forward to catching up with each other. It’s not formal and everybody pitches in — which is a good thing. In order to do something like this, you need to enjoy doing it, otherwise, it becomes a burden.”
If you realize the value of family meals and it has been on your “to-do” list, this is the time to make it happen. Set a date, keep it simple and watch what happens. Younger family members may balk at first, but once they get in the routine, they will look forward to time together. Who knows what may be happening at your house 40 years from now?
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/The-Value-of-Family-Meals-1.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2017-09-14 00:00:002022-05-20 11:42:28The Value of Family Meals