How to maintain a strong family bond in hard times

Aww, the season of love really is almost upon us.

I’m also thinking back to this time last year when we started to get reports of a virus and non of us knew what we were in for. The past 12 months have been….indescribable.

What did you learn these past 12 months? What tested your strength? What blessings in disguise were you able to find?

It’s been rough. I think it’s high time we talked a little about love again.

I’m not talking about dating, though. I’m talking about that kind of complicated love that can only come from family.

I say complicated because we don’t choose our families and some of us have difficult relationships with relatives, while for others, family is a refuge.

There is no “right way” to have a family. What matters is the quality of connection you can foster. So if your family is biological, adopted, a group of friends who rely on each other, a single or dual home…it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you feel safe and appreciated just as you are.

And this is what kids need to feel as well.

Today let’s talk about the family bond.

I know we’ve done a lot of work together (in our workshops and in these newsletters and in our blogs) to help you communicate better with your kids. This was pretty important stuff.

But communication is only 20% verbal. 80% of what we “say” to our kids is through body language and through our actions.

A parent who says “I really care” but is never around is a parent who is saying empty words (even if they are true). But what a child “hears” is: no one cares, no one likes me, my parent can’t even stand to be around me.

I know that isn’t your intent (and trust me, as someone with three jobs I feel this guilt all the time too). Often we care so much that we do whatever it takes to help our kids have what they need to survive.

So how can we show we care and how can we nurture a bond with our family? Spend time with them.

When I see clients I often ask about their family life growing up. Most kids don’t remember half of what was ever said to them, but they remember how it felt to be around family. They recall the quality time family spent together as their favourite part of growing up.

And if that doesn’t warm your heart I don’t know what will.

Yes, what I am saying is that board game you played with your tween who rolled their eyes the whole time and said it was stupid? It’s the thing they tell me years later was their favourite part of growing up.

Saying the right words to your child is important when you are trying to validate their emotions or diffuse an argument, but being silent and just doing something fun with them has just as important an impact.

According to Denise Witmer (author of countless books, mother of three, and parenting teens expert): Spending time together is one of the greatest gifts families can give to one another. Not only does quality time strengthen and build family bonds, but it also provides a sense of belonging and security for everyone in the family. In fact, research has shown that when families enjoy activities together, children not only learn important social skills but also have higher self-esteem. Strong family bonds also encourage better behavior in children, improve academic performance, strengthen parent-child communication, and teach your child how to be a good friend.

(source: Verywell Family)