Prayer To Strengthen Family Bonds
15 Ways to Strengthen Family Ties
Rawhide Boys Ranch helps troubled youth and families turn their lives around. Our residential care program provides a safe, family-centered environment for at-risk youth who may not have experienced that prior to Rawhide. Our goal is to provide stability and […]
Rawhide Boys Ranch helps troubled youth and families turn their lives around. Our residential care program provides a safe, family-centered environment for at-risk youth who may not have experienced that prior to Rawhide. Our goal is to provide stability and cultivate familial-type bonding to help they grow and heal.
Why not practice these 15 tips for maintaining or strengthening your family ties?
1. Regularly Eat Dinners Together
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”- Acts 2:46
Regularly eating meals together encourages daily communication and brings the family together physically. Families that eat together can discuss their day, share upcoming events, tell jokes, and voice concerns. Family dinners also encourage children to try new foods. If dinners won’t do, consider breakfasts.
2. Plan Activities Together
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”- Ecclesiastes 4:9
Between practices, recitals, sporting events, meetings, and other activities, finding quality family time can be difficult, but try at least once a week. Here are some fun activity ideas:
Building fun memories is an important aspect for strengthening family bonds.
3. Turn Chores into Fun Family Time
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”- Philippians 4:13
How often have you reminded family members about chores? Chores can be a burden and drain when performed individually, but tackling chores together can create unity. Not only are chores done faster, but they can be fun. Consider these game ideas:
- Dress up
- Create a Theme
- Make it a Race
- Shoot Hoops
4. Volunteer Together
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”- Mark 10:45
Volunteering can unite the family while giving back to others. Besides serving people in the community, volunteering can give all members a sense of appreciation towards what they have.
5. Write Notes to Each Other
“Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.”- Proverbs 3:3
Notes are a nice surprise for anyone. Hide notes in your children’s lunches or your spouse’s vehicle. Hiding notes is a great way to express love towards family members and provide pick-me-ups throughout the day.
6. Laugh Together
“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.”- Psalm 126:2
Laughing produces a general sense of well-being and restores a positive emotional climate. According to neuroscientist Robert Provine, Ph.D, laughter establishes a sense of connection between people. Laughing together creates a light-hearted atmosphere, and make sure everyone is laughing with each other not at each other. Remember, laughter is contagious!
7. Develop Healthy Communication Styles
“A word fitly spoken is apples of gold in a setting of silver.”- Proverbs 25:11
Learning how to communicate is equally important. When communicating, remember:
- Listen without judgment
- Pay full attention to each other
- Make ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ accusations
- Watch nonverbal signs such as folded arms, lack of eye contact, tone
Better communication creates more trust within the family, helping all family members better understand other family members.
8. Learn From Our Mistakes
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”- 1 John 1:9
People make mistakes. Good communication may uncover faulty assumptions or thinking behind the action. Learning from mistakes helps everyone grow.
9. Forgive Each Other
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”- Matthew 6:14
If the situation is stressful, calm yourself to fairly access the situation. Once you’re calm, communicate by focusing on the issue, not a person’s character. If your position is explained to the person in a calm fashion so that they still feel loved, they are less ly to hide mistakes and more ly to feel safe opening up about problems.
10. Be Just
“Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”- Proverbs 31:9
If a punishment is deemed necessary, make sure it’s just. If a similar incident happened with a sibling, make sure the punishments given fit the infraction, ensuring nobody is viewed as the “favorite.” If another family member feels a situation is unfair, sit down and communicate. This creates an understanding and promotes equality while preventing resentment.
11. Create a Family Mission Statement
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”- Proverbs 1:8-9
Much Rawhide’s mission statement, a family mission statement can provide motivation and bring your family closer and create pride.
If a family mission statement sounds a good idea, author Stephen Covey offers some strategies: “A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is all about-what it is you really want to do and be-and the principles you choose to govern your family life.”
12. Develop Stronger Family Spiritual Wellness
“And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”- 1 John 3:22
Participating in church activities creates a spiritual connection. Reading religious materials and attending family devotionals can inspire other family member’s faith and create deep, spiritual discussions.
13. Connect With Children at a Young Age
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”- Proverbs 22:6
Younger family members may feel overshadowed by older siblings. Pay attention to all family members, and don’t wait to take an interest until children are older. Spending time doing what younger family members are interested in creates a steady groundwork that lets your younger children know they aren’t invisible.
14. Express Sincere Appreciation
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”- John 13:34
Everyone s to be appreciated, and family members are no exception. We often mistakenly assume that family knows we appreciate them; however, most people still to hear it especially from loved ones.
Appreciation can also be used as positive reinforcement. Instead of reminding family members the tasks they must complete, simply thank them for everything they do.
Knowing they’re appreciated creates added happiness.
15. Commit to Strengthening Family
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”- Philippians 4:6
Commitment with love is the glue that holds a family together. Take time to do what other family members would or commit time to finding the right methods that will create a stronger bond.
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A family ritual to strengthen family bonds , Sample of Essays
As I was answering the Family rituals questionnaire, I felt good as i was somewhat compelled to reminisce the activities which I shared with my family when I was a child. It feels good to see that our family got a high score in the questionnaire.
In only proves that we have been quite close as a family. I was only mesmerized as I recalled those moments when we simultaneously scan our old pictures and laugh at the way all of us looked in the past.
I also enjoyed recalling the fond memories of our excursions when I was still a child.
Personally, I do not want to change that kind of relationship which I had with my family in the past. I would us to maintain this close relationship we have right now. For me, this is how families are supposed to be.
Families are supposed to spend most of the time together so they can be updated with the events happening to one another. In this sense, they will always be available to succor when one among the family members is having some dilemma.
In addition to that, the intimacy between them will not be lost; and instead, will only be kindled.That feeling of intimacy will make them more comfortable and more expressive with one another. The ritual that I would to apply to my family is a unique Islamic tradition called Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr is being done some time after Ramadan.
It is basically a tradition celebrating the success of the recently done Ramadan which is a whole month of blessings and joy. Moreover, Eid al-Fitr is also the extension of these blessings and joy to those who happen to be less fortunate.
Every Muslim family must offer some donation of any kind to those who are in need. They do this so the needy can participate in the celebration as well.
The Essay on Eid-ul-Fitr
… . After everybody meets with each other, most families go home for the Eid-ul-fitr meal. There is always a meal prepared at … and family friends to congratulate and exchange gifts. People come and go all day until the most pleasured day of Eid-ul-fitr … Eid-ul-fitr prayer. There is always a huge gathering of Muslim community there to pray. Most of the time, the whole family …
This is done before the end of the Eid so all the people can be prepared for the jubilation. When the day of the Eid comes, all of the participants will gather outdoors – in mosques – to perform a prayer that is especially for the Eid.
Afterwards, the participants will begin to disperse and mingle with one another. They will meet up with their families, friends and other acquaintances to give presents and express their cordial greetings.
If they have relatives who are not present and cannot go to the event, they can call them on the hoping and wise extend their wishes.
This event usually lasts for three days to allow the Muslims make the most the celebration. The meaning of this ritual is that it can manifest the unity and comradeship among its participants.
By extending their warm wishes to other people and giving donations to those who are in need, the participants learn to take care aside from their selves and value other people as well.
The act of giving donations can be symbolically interpreted as an act of offering something that sincerely comes from the self. The act is transcending the self and its own interests in order to extend one’s hands to other people.
By applying this ritual with my family, I aim that my family will have a sense of responsibility and learn how to work as a group. Moreover, I can also reinforce family planning.My family will learn that they also have responsibility over other people –their fellowmen – and that all of us must unite for a singular cause.
By promoting the behavior of giving donations to the poor and mingling with the family members, the unity of a singular cause is reinforced. As we harbor in mind the need to achieve a singular purpose, we will learn how to work as a group.
In the latter process, we will develop a more cohesive bond among ourselves. The part of mingling with other people can only encourage us to commune more deeply with one another and be aware of one another’s experiences.
As the ritual will be repetitious, all of its objectives will be recurrently addressed. In addition to that, by mingling with the family members in the course of the ritual, we will realize the importance of family planning.
In our family, there are more than ten of us who are siblings and it will surely be harder for us to greet one another while doing the ritual.
The Term Paper on Klux Klan People Members Kkk
… its popularity quickly spread, as more and more people learned the power that they had. They were … costumes and riding to the homes of black families and asking for water, ceased to be …
government and the military. Initiation ceremonies for new members were also developed. The ceremonies were similar … means circle and the word 'clan', which means family.
Although the Klan was originally just a group …
Lastly, I think that the ritual need not to change as the members of the family grow older. We must only adapt with one another and our family embers – and our oscillating temperaments, tastes and yearnings.
The touchstone of the ritual is that we feel the warm company of our family members as we do and enjoy doing things together. In that sense, my two goals can be achieved.We learn that we are responsible for the welfare of our family members and we learn to work collectively in making all of us grow individually as persons and the family as a whole.
14 Activities that help fathers and sons strengthen their bond
Fathers have an enormous influence on the type of men their sons will become, and the father-son relationship is tremendously important for boys as they mature. It can be a difficult relationship to nurture, though, and fathers don’t always know how to talk to their sons.
Whatever your challenges as a father may be, however, don’t underestimate how much it means to a boy to simply spend time alongside his father doing an activity. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, here are a few great ways to bond.
And sons, you could also suggest these ideas to your fathers — you’re never too old for some bonding time with dad …
Go to the barber shop
I particularly enjoy finding an old-school Italian barber, the kind who has a candy-striped pole for a sign and gets out a dangerous-looking razor as part of the haircut. But whoever the barber is, there’s a certain vibe about a barber shop that helps bring boys into one of the privileged rituals of manhood.
Have wrestling matches
My boys are getting big enough now that they can inflict some serious damage on me. If they ever learn to work together I’m doomed. Males are wired, for whatever reason, to bond through physical play, so wrestle often with your sons even if they’re starting to get the upper hand.
This is a classic activity for a reason. Sports is an obvious bonding moment, but all too frequently sports has become a high-stakes affair of endless practices, travel teams, and coaches who are super-serious. Throwing the ball around in the yard removes all that stress. It has no purpose other than to enjoy the day together.
Hang at the coffee shop
Look, it isn’t a great idea to get an eight-year-old boy wired up on caffeine. But this is what makes it all the more awe-inspiring when I take my boys to the coffee shop for some man time. I give them a scone and a small sip of coffee as an induction into #Dadlife and they’re tremendously impressed with the gravity of the moment.
Become an altar serving team at Mass
I recently invited the fathers in my parish to create father-son teams. A few of the dads took me up on the offer, and I have to say, nothing is better than seeing fathers and sons practicing their faith together while they do a serious, important job at Church.
Make a fire
Bonus points if you grill some meat on it. Making a fire is primal and it’s dangerous. Inducting your sons into the time-honored tradition of grilling food outdoors is an easy way to have some time with them and teach them a useful life skill.
Read books to them
It’s important that this job doesn’t always fall to mom. It’s especially good for boys to hear adventure stories and tales of heroism from dad. I don’t know why, but the memory of it remains etched in the minds of many men, how their father used to read to them when they were young and how much they loved it.
Participate in scouting
I see a lot of moms in charge of boy’s scouting groups. Moms are awesome, but ideally dads will participate with their sons and lead the group. This is a golden opportunity to go camping together, do service projects, and learn about outdoorsmanship.
Build something with real tools
Power tools are dangerous. You can do a lot of damage with one if you’re not careful. This is exactly why boys love them. With the help of Dad, boys can learn how to safely and responsibly harness that great power to create something. When a father-son team creates a spice rack for mom, they boys are bonding with Dad and learning from him how to care for the women in their life.
By Syda Productions | Shutterstock
Play chess together
It’s odd how quickly boys take to the game of chess. They love strategy and the challenge. A father and son can bond over this game even if there’s a minimum of talking. And if neither of you s chess, choose another game of strategy.
Visit an art museum
Manly men appreciate art. It’s good for fathers and sons to learn to appreciate the finer things in life together. If Dad helps his boys see that becoming cultured isn’t a challenge to their masculinity, he’s taught them a wonderful lesson. Talking together about the art is a great bonding opportunity.
Show him how to tie a tie
Anytime a dad can pass on arcane knowledge it’s a good thing. Handing on traditions, even one as simple as explaining a tie knot, is a vital part of generational bonding. Every time I tie a tie to this day, I remember my dad showing me how to do it when I was a teenager, but today more than 90 percent of kids turn to the internet before they ask their father.
Go on a local animal safari
Explore the great outdoors with your son by showing him how to find scorpions and scary spiders under rocks, or lifting him up to look inside a bird nest.
Have a backyard camp out
Camping is great, but even if you don’t have the time for a camping trip, you can always set up the tent in the back yard and have fun together. Boys don’t particularly need a whole lot to impress them and to them the backyard is a place of wide-open adventure.
It doesn’t so much matter what you choose to do together, it just matters that you take the time to do them. The memories made are invaluable; and the relationship you will forge together is irreplaceable.
How to Strengthen Family Bonds
Family is the foundation that keeps you rooted in who you truly are. But as with anything, in order to keep your family ties strong, you have to work at it.
Make time on a regular basis to enjoy your family, to laugh with them, and have in-depth conversations. Maybe set up a family game night or have a weekly dinner.
Spending quality time with your loved ones is a great way to strengthen family bonds.
You’ve heard the term “Life Is Short” , and it’s true. Tomorrow isn’t promised, which is why it’s important to show your family appreciation. Send a thank you card, or buy them a special gift. And most importantly, apologize when you're wrong. Simply saying “ I’m sorry” can strengthen family bonds.
Time is precious, and once it's gone, you can't get it back. So you should live in the moment with your family, and create beautiful memories with them. Start family traditions that will last for generations. Take a yearly summer vacations or have a game night once a month. Bonding with your loved ones helps you to appreciate one another, and treasure your time together.
4. “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”
No family is perfect. But that doesn’t mean you give up on each other. Your family should be the people you count on the most. You should also practice encouraging one another. If you can’t go to your loved ones for help or inspiration, who can you go to? But, make sure you provide a listening ear to your relatives and be supportive of their dreams and ambitions as well.
5. “A happy family is heaven on Earth.”
When you and your family are on good terms, it’s incredible. However, when you face the difficulties of the world, nothing feels better than to have the love of your family. Your loved ones should be your safe haven, and you should be the same for them in return.
Life can be hard, so families should stick together and be there for each other. Call your mom, sister, brother, and anyone else you love, and ask how they’re doing. Talk to them about what’s truly going on in their lives.
Open communication helps to strengthen family bonds, and keep you connected to the one’s you love.
6. “Other things change, but we start and end with family.”
Family is forever, and no matter how far you go, they will always be a part of you. If when you grow older and move away, your family’s house will feel home no matter what. Life gets hectic, and you might find it hard to visit your relatives often.
But even if you can’t be in their presence physically, technology can bring you together. Make Skype dates with the ones you love, and keep them involved with your life.
Post throwback photos on social media to let them know how much you miss them, so your family ties stay strong.
7. “Family. A unit of people who love and support each other through good times and bad.”
Let's face it. There will be good and bad times, and you can’t predict what the future holds. You might have to go down some rough roads together. But that’s what family is. It’s strength. It’s love. It’s unity.
When you see a loved one suffering, be the helping hand they need. If you have something to give, share it. Invite them over for dinner or offer to pay for movie night.
If you see a family member down, help bring them up because it can strengthen family bonds.
8. “A family doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be united!”
Every family has flaws, but that doesn’t mean there should be brokenness within the unit.
In fact, you shouldn’t expect perfection from your family, because eventually, they will disappoint you; whether it's intentional or not. This means you should forgive.
Everything doesn’t have to turn into a fight, and you don't always have to say the last word. It’s hard, but practicing temperance with your loved ones is how to strengthen family bonds.
9. “Family is anyone who loves you unconditionally.”
Your family isn’t always defined as people you share DNA with. In fact, some family ties are stronger between friends that blood relatives.
If you have people in your life who you can count on, who you can talk to and laugh with; they’re your family. So, don’t feel bad if you don't have a good relationship with your relatives, or if you don’t know them.
When you’re surrounded by love, that’s all the family you need. Tell your friends how much you appreciate them being in your life.
10. “Together is my favorite place to be.”
Being around family just feels good. Sitting around and laughing about the good ole days is the perfect way to strengthen family bonds.
Go out bowling or take a bike ride together; do whatever you can to spend quality time with your family. There’s nothing better than enjoying life with the people closest to you.
Your relatives share your name, your looks, and your history; that type of love and connection can never be broken.
Seven Steps to Strengthen Prayer
My struggles with prayer run deep. The spiritual deserts in my life have always been accompanied by a parched prayer life. Eventually, I came to realize this was not only a symptom, but a cause. I was neglecting the very thing that would satisfy my weary, thirsty soul. I was ignoring the path that would not only lead me the desert, but keep me the wilderness in the first place.
I often fall short of my good intentions when I fail to view prayer as a discipline that needs to be learned and practiced and developed.
We speak frequently of the importance of prayer, but often don’t know (or forget) the “hows” of prayer. Even Jesus’s own disciples had to ask Jesus how to pray (Luke 11:1).
They saw something in the way he prayed so fervently and intimately to his Father that made them long to do the same. Lord, teach us to pray!
While it won’t be the same for everyone, seven specific actions have really helped me in my battle against a weak prayer life.
Preparing to Pray
1. Set prayer apart. The more we pray, the more we want to pray. To do this, you need to build it into the rhythm of your day any way you can: set alarms, leave notes, put it in your day planner.
Prayer is a practice that requires discipline and perseverance, and we should own the cost. Prayer is the greatest act of our day, and we must fight for it. And not just in times of need.
It matters how we train and prepare for the battle.
2. Learn to withdraw. Pull away from distractions — the phone, the computer, the TV, the constant noise of modern life — and find a way to separate yourself so you can be and feel “shut in with God.
” It can be a challenge when you work away from home for long hours or are sharing your house from dawn-to-dusk with a bunch of loud and energetic children, but make it a priority.
Your car on lunch break, a quiet corner in the office, a closet in between meals or feedings or naptimes, or simply the quiet of your heart if that’s all you can muster. But find solitude, and pray (Luke 4:42; 5:16; 22:41).
3. Have a posture of prayer. Do what you need to help you focus on what it is that you’re doing. Kneel, stand, close your eyes, look to the heavens — when your body is focused, it’s often easier for your soul to follow. If able, pray out loud.
I’ve found that just softly whispering during my private prayer time is quiet enough that it doesn’t inhibit the flow of my praying, but loud enough that it keeps my mind from wandering. As C.S. Lewis observes, “The body ought to pray as well as the soul.
Body and soul are both better for it.”
4. Pray Scripture. This is a great way to start. What joy it brings to a father to know his children hear his words, cherish them, believe them to be true, and then speak them back to him.
So much of my prayers are “plagiarized” Scripture.
Without even realizing it, they become the vocabulary of my prayers, sometimes because the beautiful promises make my heart sing, and sometimes because all I can do is desperately cling to his words.
- Show me your glory (Exodus 33:18).
- Turn my eyes from worthless things (Psalm 119:37).
- Show me a sign of your goodness (Psalm 86:17).
- Let no sin rule over me (Psalm 119:133).
- You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing (Psalm 16:2).
5. Pray fervently. Praying should be active. We cannot truly come into contact with God and not be a different person, at least in some small degree, by the time we say, “Amen.” Struggle in prayer, wrestle with it, and let the Spirit move.
Answers to prayer are a blessing, but prayer in and of itself is meant to be a blessing.
Sometimes it feels the moaning of parched lips in the desert, and we should still persevere because prayer is not just the fruit of spiritual life, but the means of attaining it.
6. Pray specifically. Vagueness can be the death of prayer.
Not that we can never be general, just not at the expense of praising God’s specific attributes, confessing specific sins, or thanking him and asking him for specific things.
We must learn to pray specifically and boldly due to the status we have through Christ, while simultaneously being completely submissive to God’s will. Bold and expectant faith coupled with humble submission is a powerful thing.
7. Pray for and with others. Prayer is meant to knit together the children of God, oftentimes, people we have never even met. We share a Father, we are family, and we should bear each other’s burdens in prayer.
We become invested in each other’s struggles and triumphs. We start to care more about the people we pray for and less about ourselves. What a beautiful thing to come before our Father of one accord with the same appeals love and care for each other.
Prayer binds the church together.
Prayer is not a formula or something that only “works” if we do it perfectly, in just the right way. But it should never be careless. Careless prayers are arrows that fall haphazardly at our feet.
Prayers that we offer with little care or effort typically will do little after leaving our mouths (but be careful about underestimating God).
On the other hand, when shot with strength and desire and fervor, our prayers fly swiftly toward heaven to the throne of God himself (Revelation 8:4):It is not the arithmetic of our prayers — how many they be;nor the rhetoric of our prayers — how eloquent they be;nor their geometry — how long they be;nor their music — how sweet their voice may be;nor their logic — how argumentative they be;nor yet their method — how orderly they be;nor even their divinity — how good their doctrine may be, which God cares for:but it is the fervency of spirit which availeth much.
(Bishop Joseph Hall, 1808)
God loves to make his people into skilled archers in the discipline of prayer, with prayers arrows — fervent and strong ones that change lives, bring healing, impact our nations, alter history, unite the church, and above all display God’s glory.
Using Social Media to Strengthen Family Bonds
Photo by Derek Brabender.
The attack of snowballs caught him off guard.
Father and columnist Peter McKay tells the story of his encounter with the world of Club Penguin a few years back. Describing his efforts at digitally connecting with his kids, McKay compares the site to a type of middle school social: everyone is there to hang out with his/her penguin avatar friends…but no one actually talks to each other.
Despite a rough learning curve on avatar operations, things were going well relationally. His kids seemed genuinely happy to join him online. Then McKay made the tragic mistake of launching into his parenting agenda of chores and homework right there in Club Penguin. In response, one of his supposedly loving children hurled a virtual snowball at papa penguin.
This frozen act of hostility proved to inspire surrounding penguins.
Suddenly, McKay was under a barrage attack of digital snowballs, burying papa penguin in a pile of virtual snow. To rub salt in the avatar’s emotional wounds, McKay’s offspring waddled off to another area of Club Penguin, with little regard for either their father’s plight or their homework.
Thwarted at his computer-mediated parenting efforts, McKay writes: “I won't go back any time soon. The real world may not be as exciting as Penguin Island, but at least out here if one of those little creeps lobs a snowball at me, I'm big enough to wash his face with a handful of exceedingly non-virtual snow. 1
The online world turned McKay’s existing world on its head.
It is not a secret that teens use social media to connect with their friends. However, teens also use social media to connect with adults they trust and with whom they have a positive relationship. 2 McKay hoped, this can extend to relationships within families.
For many of us adults, however, online activity with our kids can be socially disorientating. Those of us who see the relational potential of social media may discover that the reward for our efforts is a loss of parental authority.
These new digital interactions are often foreign to our own experiences when we were teens.
They also leave us wondering who we are online in relation to our kids, or why something our kids seem to enjoy so much feels it is tearing our family apart.
Thankfully, we can learn a few things from research that shed light on this new parenting world. The good news for parents is that the very digital tools that have the potential to be destructive for families can also be used instead towards building new bridges of communication and family intimacy.
Texters Feel Closer
Among participants in an LG-sponsored survey on texting, most parents who text with their teens report texting helps them feel closer to one another, and more than half of those teens report the same thing.
3 While it may seem suspicious that a corporate-sponsored study discovered a product they sell could strengthen family bonds, the same study revealed that half of both parents and teens admit to driving and texting.
So texting, while potentially helpful in bringing families closer together, also has a dangerous dark side.
Families Who Play Together…
Beyond texting, using the Internet to communicate or play online games with family and friends increases social capital among users (“social capital” is the strength of human connections that contributes to a personal sense of wellbeing).
The benefit seems to lie in doing something together, even if the activity itself seems somewhat pointless to us as parents. 4 Playing together creates opportunities for positive family experiences. Of course, playing any game together would be great; participating in online social gaming merely is about joining them in what many are already doing.
Positive experiences this are an important ingredient in developing a growing sense of personal wellbeing. 5
We All to be Heard
As an added bonus, people want to share their good experiences with others, and social media provides that platform. Though individuals enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences whether the audience is real or implied, knowing someone is paying attention makes sharing more personally valuable. 6 At first glance, this finding appears to make social media incredibly narcissistic.
In that line of thinking, a team of researchers conducted a study on users. They predicted that individuals with the greatest desire to shape public perceptions would self-disclose the most often. 7 Surprisingly, it turns out that the more a person desires to control appearances the less ly they are to participate on .
Most social media allows others to comment on, post about or tag a picture of a user. Realistically, it is far easier to avoid these sites than to control others’ actions.Consequently, the value of many social media platforms is not in controlling a self-projected image but sharing within the context of close personal relationships.
In other words, sharing through social media is mostly about being heard by our friends.
Teens Need Our Support
Adolescents use social media to get advice and support from adults they know, respect and who are willing to engage online with them.
8 Because the majority of digital conversations focus on experiences of everyday life, it is inherently personal. 9 In large part because of this, teens view their digital connections as lifelines to their support structure.
10 As parents, we will want to be a part of that online support structure for our teenagers.
Writers versus Talkers
Using social media to strengthen family relationships is not so much a matter of adopting a series of steps, as it is a reframing of perspective.
For example, some people prefer written styles of interpersonal communication, while others prefer a verbal communication style.
11 Knowing one’s own preference of communication, perception or use of the Internet helps to understand and identify others’ preferences.
For example, say you take a silly family picture with a movie cutout. If it’s okay with your kids, tag them and digitally share the moment. The verbal communicators in the family already have a moment to share their fun comments, the writers can add their thoughts from their phones or when they get home.
It may surprise you how the writers in the family recreate that experience and use it in other ways. My kids took some of those posted pictures to create a fun and memorable Father’s Day card.
It was awesome! By taking a brief moment to transfer a bit of our everyday lives into a format that writers can participate in, both communication types have a greater opportunity to help create family memories.
From Information to Relationship
When it comes to communication, adolescents are the most ly group to experience the Internet as a relational tool, 12 and chronology may be to blame for this.
Early in the new millennium the creation of an Internet social platform reframed it from a web of interconnected documents to a web of interconnected people.
13 Consequently, a person’s perspective on the Internet’s social-ability may reveal more about when they adopted it than how old they are.Here is how this plays out. As recent as five years ago, only about a third of people age 65 and older used the Internet; it was not until 2012 that the number crept above fifty percent.
14 Of course, baby boomers are part of the increase; however, teens, any digital newcomers in this group would be experiencing these tools primarily as relational ones.
To them, the Internet and other digital tools were created to connect with their friends and grandkids, and before we know it, grandma has exceeded her texting limits.
Coming Alongside our Kids Online
Up until the latter half of the nineteenth century, communication between generations was more ly to consider the developmental and conceptual understanding of the child, and that responsibility was on the parent. 15 Also historically, children learned alongside adults.
It is increasingly less obvious in our culture how young people are supposed to learn the skills necessary to engage in adult society. In contemporary culture, it seems that it is the young people themselves who are expected to be the initiators and developers of those skills.
For the most part teens are learning how to use social media within their friendship structure as they navigate the digital landscape. 17 Consequently, they are developing relational patterns in isolation from the broader society. To bridge that growing divide, we will need to provide context, training and tools for teens to interpret messages from the adult sphere.
Have you ever told a funny story at home and your kid mutters “lol” instead of laughing? Participating with our teens online helps us know that lol has meaning. It communicates to someone not physically present that you laughed, demonstrating how we interpreted his or her message.
If that group of friends continues to use that same form of communication, despite being physically present to each other, they have developed a pattern of socialization apart from the broader society. They now narrate their own laughs. This is something I observed among teens during my research.
Teens may need coaching to learn appropriate cultural behavior and understand messages coming from adults. This is not something teens have lost; it is something they are developing on their own. To bridge this we have to start where the teens actually are, not where we think they should be.
Simultaneously, we need to listen carefully to what our teens are saying online. Adults who do not listen but instead push their own agenda frustrate teens.18 In order to build a social capital bridge to the next generation, we will need to put our social power positions at risk. 19 This may mean being open to learning about social media from our children.
It might mean risking personal competence by digitally going where it feels no parent has had to go before.
McKay was willing to go digitally where his kids were, but he wanted to use the space for something it was not created for.
Had he stayed and allowed Club Penguin to be what his kids used it for (most ly as a place to hang out with friends, play games and showcase their personal igloo) he would have eventually learned how to do what kids do there.
More importantly, he would have given his own kids an opportunity to show their dad what they can do or have created on the site.
He would have truly found another dimension for connecting with his kids and an opportunity to deepen his relationship with them.
Ultimately, this is the potential power digital tools have to strengthen family connections. They provide us with additional opportunities to play with and listen to our kids, helping us to feel closer to them as we guide them toward adulthood.
Ask your teen to show you how to do something online. Just talking about how to use the Internet better can facilitate relationship building. 20
If your teens are social gamers, join them online in a game of their choice.
Find a recent post by your teen to which you can give a digital thumbs-up. During your next meal together, invite your teen to tell you about their post. Then share how their post impacted you.
Do a digital inventory on your own social media usage, noting with whom you spend the most time interacting online. How are you living present with your teens both online and off?