It is International Day of families on May 15th, so I wanted to share some thoughts of what we really mean by family values…
With the ever fast pace rate of change, our children are being required to adapt and assimilate more information than ever before. It is more key now perhaps than ever before to create strong , safe, loving family environments for our children. As parents we are role models for our children – parent’s attitudes, beliefs , behaviours and language is a key factor in how children see the world and themselves in it. Creating a “healthy” family environment is an important aspect of parenting. The supportive family is one where each individual within the family is listened to and respected regardless of their abilities, age or birth order ; it’s interesting to note that most of us grow out of childhood habits such as nail biting and thumb sucking , but sibling rivalry is the one habit we can experience long into adulthood! Creating a supportive family dynamic is more preferable than a situation where each family member is in a competition for attention.
Virginia Satir, a renowned family therapist, suggested regular family meals. Here each family member , including mum and dad, would be given a chance to talk about their week without interruption; thus each could feel ‘listened’ to. Then a question was asked as to how the family, or any individual member, could support the coming week’s activities for that person. Satir’s recommendation was to have this kind of meal at least once a week, so ever member felt supported and respected. In our busy lives the meal table can often be the only place we can sit down and be still enough for a conversation with our family ,and more and more this activity is invaded by television or mobile technology.
Much of our learning as children is done unconsciously or subliminally and children will come to identify with their parental gender role model. Awareness of this fact can enable parents to reflect on their own behaviour and communication and consider what they are ‘silently’ teaching their children.
Some things you can do to help children
Encouraging open honest dialogue between everyone in the family
Create the time to talk on a regular basis about their feeling,s helping them to express their feelings at this time.
Offer support, either from yourselves or a close family figure.
Do your best to keep yourself healthy, physically and emotionally, building a supportive network of friends and family.
If at all possible attempt to keep the routine and life experiences the same as much as possible for the children.
Do your best to ensure a safe, loving, nurturing environment.
When listening apply the following:
- Make eye contact
- Face the person you are speaking too
- Listen to what is being said
- Imagine you are the person speaking
- Reply when you have thought about what has been said
- It’s ok to answer ‘I need to think about it’
- Carefully chosen words can be as potent as highly prescribed medicines.
- Use direct verbs
- Tell your child what you want them to do, using the negative creates confusion.
By Maggie Chapman