Tag Archives: connecting with children

Family…

Dinner?  Breakfast?  Lunch?  Snack?  Dessert?

They are all options.  The goal?  Be together.  Talk.  Reminisce.  This (short) chapter talks about all the things you can do at family dinner– some challenging, all engaging.

At this point, I am thinking about Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson– their work with memories and telling stories can be a lovely part of family talk time.  Childhood stories, kids asking questions about “When you were little…” and more. (Difficult memories involving your children should be saved for more private conversations where you can be snuggling or sitting close– a great way to heal and help children make sense of memories is to re-tell and talk about hard memories while creating a sense of comfort.)

So for all of you who are rushing home for dinner and creating more stress– be creative, find another meal that works for you and your family.

Checklists and Family Meetings.

First, I’d like to tell you to buy Bruce Feiler’s book.  (Disclaimer– I don’t know Bruce Feiler, though I just started following him on Twitter 😉  I think you should buy it because: that’s how authors get public credit for their writing, plus royalties (eventually), plus orders for second printings, and because based on the introduction + first chapter, I can tell this is a book you should have in your parenting library.

CHECKLISTS I have long been a promoter of simple checklists (that you don’t necessarily need to “check off” but that you can “check with your eyes”) and family meetings.  Chapter one has reminded me how empowering checklists are for the entire family (nagging almost gone– just “check the list”).  Our morning checklist (made easier now because everyone can read, but before we did pictures) is basic– socks,  shoes, know what coat, gloves, book, LUNCH, homework folder or drama notebook or not, hair, teeth brushed for real with toothpaste, face washed.  Roughly in order, posted at child’s-eye-level.  For us there is no actual place to “check off”.  And it works.  Who made the list?  We did it together, and I typed it up and printed it out.  We’ve experimented with writing our own, decorating, etc.  Typed works best for us– maybe because it looks official?

FAMILY MEETINGS Family meetings can be another important part of successful family life.  Our lives are filled with too much to manage (logistical and emotional) without some kind of weekly check-in.  This chapter explains some of the nuances of the meeting, including best questions to ask.  As the wife of an author, I can’t give the secrets of any book away, but I will say that I am 100% sure our family meetings will improve.  I looked at the first page in our binder I keep for family meetings– we’ve been having them since 2006!  I hadn’t quite realized it’s been that long.  We’ve gone through phases of having them once a month, once a week, but there are definitely times we’ve forgotten to have one at all.  And, we had been starting with gratitude (everyone goes around saying something they are grateful for about someone else at the table) but gratitude practice is not for a meeting– that’s something else.  I loved the book Cheaper by the Dozen (check out the vintage cover!) when I was younger, and understood even then the beauty of routine and efficiency– how it can actually make more room for enjoyment.

It’s all I can do to not read more– but I’m pacing myself.  A chapter every few days.  If I can hold out!

UPDATE:  Our family meetings have changed exponentially.  We’ve shifted the focus to “we” and it creates a lot of space for people to be more accountable for themselves.  We can also refer back to goals we’ve set for the week by referencing our meeting– again, a shared experience.

How are you going to greet your child today?

Whether you are picking up from school, coming home after a day at work, or something in between, that moment when you reconnect with your child is powerful.  Look into his eyes, give a big smile, a hug, a hair ruffle— something that brings you both into a moment where, even for a second, you are the only two people who exist.

When I sent my last newsletter, I let everyone know that my mother was very ill.   Thank you to everyone who emailed to let me know you were thinking of me.  Sadly, my mom died a bit later in the summer.  When I think about my moments of reconnection with her, from our whole life, they bring a warmth to my heart.  I remember her stepping out of the car on my first visiting day at sleep-away camp as clearly as her smile when I would arrive at the house this summer and lean over the bed to kiss her hello.

I want my children to feel my love and support throughout their entire lives.  Being confident about what I do every day to find that balance and create those relationships keeps me grounded.

So start small—start with your moments of hello.

Are you feeling super connected to your kids?

New York City,  November 2011

Are you feeling super connected to your kids? One of the best ways to stay connected is to start with the natural opportunities life provides us with.

Life provides us with natural greeting times: morning, after naps, pick up time from school, during playtime when your kids wander off and then come back to you and any other time when you haven’t seen your child for a bit and you re-connect.

“…a greeting should collect the eyes, a smile and a nod.” -Gordon Neufeld, PhD, in his book Hold On To Your Kids 

Make those moments as special as you can— take the time to lock eyes, to smile, and say something light to which they can agree.  You can touch,  feel how they are doing, make it clear that you are there for them.  “It’s so good to see you.” “Looks like you did some painting today!”  “I missed you today.”  “I saw you were Tommy’s partner on the way downstairs”… the point is you are saying something that just reminds your child that you are seeing him/her– you’re not asking, interviewing about the day, or by any means saying something negative.  Even if you see something that might seem off– your child pushing, or a ripped shirt, or a missing lunchbox:  these can be addressed, but after you re-connect.

What if I’m in a rush?  Especially if you are in a rush, take that first moment with your child as calmly as you can.  Then, with your body still calm, remind your child, “Today is a speedy day, remember?  We need to get right to music (or soccer, or gymnastics)…”   This should make things easier– you had a grounding moment, a plan, and now you are off together (you could even be “Team Speedy” if you think something cute like that might help streamline your experience).