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PART 1 - Communicating (4 of 4)

Chapter 4

Creating Better Communicators


When we ask parents about their priorities, most of them say that family is number one on the list. Unfortunately, most of these same people say they are struggling with work-life balance and would love to know the secret sauce for spending more quality time with their loved ones.


A 50-year study in the Journal of Family Psychology found that consistent family rituals encourage the social development of children and increase feelings of family cohesiveness by more than 17%.


Family rituals are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.


Family rituals provide families with the framework for maintaining and strengthening their relationships.


Another way of communicating effectively with your family is to schedule one-on-one time. By having a specific time of day, every day, that your spouse and/or children know they have your undivided attention, gives them the structure and assures them they will be heard by you.


As a 20 something-year-old, our daughter calls on her way home from work. I never book an appointment at that time and am always waiting for the call. No matter what, I walk away and focus on the call. Often, she will frame up the call with either, Mum I am not looking for coaching today, I need to vent, or Mum I could really do with your advice. Either way, I know this ritual is sacred to both her and me.


Another ritual you may wish to focus on is eating together. As simple as that sounds, it is surprising to know that only 59% of Australian families usually eat dinner together during the week and 40% on the weekend.


The mental health benefits of regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, tobacco use, early teenage pregnancy, and higher rates of resilience and higher self-esteem.


Think about the possible 16+ opportunities you have to eat together through just one week.


· 7 Breakfasts

· 7 Dinners

· 2 Weekend Lunches


Mealtime is more than just about food; imagine the types of conversations you could have. Family history lessons are a great way for people to feel connected. Creating a family tree with the stories about each family member and sharing family photos is a great way to connect children with their past, helping them understand their traits by relating to another family member or family influencer.


It is time to uncomplicate your family life, look for a way to relax, have fun and create unforgettable moments together. This can start at the dinner table or breakfast bench, maybe even at a picnic table.


No matter what rituals, you decide on the number, one thing to remember is to keep your commitment. Turn off technology, except for the photo opportunities, and start sharing meals together.


Here are some more ideas for family rituals:


· Bedtime stories (from books or imagination)

· Family Fun Day (choose a new challenge)

· Game nights (board games that teach about life)

· Walking the dog (talk about the environment)

· Playing musical instruments (involve everyone with an instrument)

· Share family stories (visit a grandparent)

· Cooking together (experimental food)

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