Tons of folks resolve to lose weight or train for a race in the new year. Why not be unique and instead promise yourself you’ll do all you can to strengthen your bonds with those you hold most dear?
Getting close to those you love means taking time to understand their needs, wants, and life goals. It means dedicating time to honest and caring communication. Here are eight ways you can support your family in the new year.
1. Open the Communication Lines
Many times, you grow frustrated in relationships and start to pull away when you don’t feel heard. If you feel like your children never listen to you as a parent, ask yourself when the last time was you sat down and asked for their opinion or input. If nothing comes to mind, you need to schedule a heart-to-heart.
Remember that much of communication is non-verbal. While babies don’t speak English — or French, or Swahili — they nevertheless make their needs known through facial expressions, giggles and cries.
If you ask your child, “what’s wrong,” over dinner, don’t go back to your broccoli the second they utter, “I’m fine.” Please pay attention to how they pick at their meal and keep their eyes downcast. Probe a little more deeply — perhaps reassuring them that you can talk later — to find out what’s bothering them.
2. Practice Using “I” Language
One way to strengthen frayed bonds is to practice using “I” language when you communicate. This technique helps keep the other person from shutting down and tuning out because you aren’t accusing them of anything. Instead, you’re expressing how their behavior makes you feel.
As your children become teenagers, this non-confrontational-yet-effective communication becomes vital if you want them to open up about things like drug experimentation. For instance, nearly 80% of heroin users started with prescription opioids, and pill bottles abound in medicine cabinets across America.
Saying, “You shouldn’t go to so-and-so’s house because I don’t trust their parents,” sets off fireworks. However, a non-accusatory, “I always worry when you hang out with so-and-so because I’ve heard rumors. Can we talk so you can set my mind at ease,” opens the door to them confessing that they feel uncomfortable and peer-pressured into trying pills or alcohol.
3. Text Them “Just Because”
How do you react when your kids or spouse text you simply to let you know that they care? It probably brings a giant smile to your face. Why not return the favor?
Regularly text your loved ones to check-in, even when you don’t have anything to say. If all you ever message is, “please pick up some milk on your way home,” no wonder your spouse says they didn’t get the memo half the time. Give them a positive reason to check their phone.
4. Attend One of Their Events
When it comes to things like the school science fair and dance recitals, please make every effort to attend. Even if your child never admits it, it can crush them when they are the only ones whose folks don’t show up to ooh and ahh over their baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano.
As your kids get older, exercise prudence when it comes to athletics. Some might feel excess pressure if they know you attend every game, so talk to your children about their preferences. If they’d rather you wait until the playoffs, honor their wishes.
5. Bring Back the Family Dinner
Does your family typically eat standing up in front of the open refrigerator between school and soccer practice? If so, please try to bring back the family dinner at least once or twice a week.
Sharing a sit-down meal is about more than nutrition. It’s time for you to reconnect and cement your bond as a family unit. You can be fair — if you tend to dine early, move the dinner hour back until after the streetlights come on, to give your kids active, outdoor playtime in winter.
6. Practice Active Listening Skills
If your teenager comes home to announce they broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend (again), and you reply with a distracted, “oh, that’s nice,” is it any wonder why they don’t seem to want to talk? If you want your kids to respect you, you need to show them the same courtesy when they open up — even if you privately find their confession silly.
Show that you’re paying attention when they speak by making appropriate facial expressions and encouraging them to continue. Paraphrase — not parrot — what they said and ask questions to clarify what you don’t understand.
7. Encourage Healthy Eating and Exercise Habits
If you don’t have your health, life becomes challenging, especially in America. Show your loved ones that you care by encouraging healthy eating and exercise habits.
Keep in mind that positive suggestions work better than negative reprimands when it comes to modifying behavior. Instead of saying, “Stop eating so much junk food,” when your loved one reaches for the chips, remind them that you have healthier hummus and carrot sticks ready for snacking.
8. Always Say “I Love You”
Finally, if 2020 taught folks one thing, it’s that you never know what life is going to throw at you. You don’t want to dwell on potential negatives, but some folks leave their homes in the morning, never to return.
Always say, “I love you,” before heading out or going to bed. Yes, it can be challenging when negative emotions make tensions run high. However, your family needs to know that your love-bond remains — even when you don’t like them very much at the moment.
Support Your Family These 8 Ways in the New Year
Instead of jumping on the “lose weight and get fit” bandwagon, why not make a more meaningful resolution? Use these tips to support your family in the new year.