Shared identity & belongingAuthor:
Dr. Laura Markham
How do you hold a family together? How do you make kids WANT to spend time with thefamily? How do you give your children the motivation to work things through with theirsiblings and with you? Much of the answer has to do with the family culture you create.Some ideas:1.
Consciously create a family identity.
Obviously, you want this identity to be positiveand expansive, not limiting. Is yours an athletic family? Do you all follow currentevents? Talk about who's reading what? Most families have several identities: TheTraveling Smiths can also be the Bookworm Smiths who love to cook together or collectfunny jokes.2.
Eat dinner together whenever possible
See the section on dinner on this site.3.
Seize any excuse to celebrate and have fun together
Find ways to enjoy each other
Her music choices may sound like noise to you, andshe may have no interest in that stroll on the beach that makes you happy just to bealive. But if you put a little energy into it, you will find ways to enjoy each other, whetherits making waffles together on Sunday morning or a shopping trip with lunch just for thetwo of you.5.
Honor each others' passions.
Take an interest in each other’s fascinations. If youstarted dating someone whose ruling passion was antiques, you’d probably want tounderstand what they loved about old things, and maybe read a book or accompanythem on an antiquing foray. Your son’s obsession with Star Wars novels may be seemlike a waste of time ("Why isn’t he reading the classics?") but your interest in hearingabout the plots, even if they all sound the same at first, will go a long way toward makinghim feel comfortable talking with you about what’s important to him when something’sbothering him.6.
Keep the tone loving
Every household has an emotional tone, which changes buttends toward a particular range of notes. I tend towards a cozy sanctuary feel, myhusband tends toward funny and raucous; either can be embracing. The point is tonotice what creates discordance and avoid that. That may mean reducing screen time,or agreeing that certain sections of the house are for quiet pursuits, or simply monitoringtones of voice and reminding kids when they start shouting at each other. (Obviously,with young kids things tend to be loud, but that doesn't mean the tone isn't loving.)7.
Develop family rituals.
Rituals, through their repetition, reinforce particular feelingsand values. They may be the single most effective tool in creating family culture. (SeeRituals on this website).