At first glance you’d think that building family relationships is simply about spending more time together.
While this is true, we have to ask ourselves about the quality of that time together.
What are your family interactions like? Is there lots of sibling conflict? And what are your interactions with your kids like? What kind of relational bonds and patterns are being built each day?
Our habits and interactions are constantly molding and shaping those around us—for the good or bad.
There are days (and sometimes seasons) in my parenting where I simply have to intentionally focus on building family relationships.
Am I giving time for the kids to simply hang out together? Time to just play and create forts in the backyard? How about time for me to hang out one-on-one with each of them?
As parents we can't get so focused on our goals and task lists that we miss one of parenting's greatest blessings–the chance to build deep family bonds that impact generations.
We can “sort of” schedule time for building family relationships (Saturday mornings as “family time” or Sunday afternoon “family game time”).
But it’s those unexpected, unplanned moments when so many lasting memories are made.
Although we may have school goals and plans for the day, we have to learn the fine art of when to keep to a schedule and when it’s time to take a break for relationship building.
What Can Building Family Relationships Look Like?
Yesterday morning my five-year-old came to me, huge wicker basket in hand.
“Mommy! Can we go pick some flowers out front right now? I really, really want to pick some! There are so many in bloom right now!” she happily exclaimed.
It was 7:45 a.m. and I really needed to get everyone started on our homeschool day. But I knew how important this was to her and how special she would feel picking flowers with me. So I had a choice—stick with the expected rhythm, or go with the flow and spend a few minutes building my relationship with my daughter?
I’m happy to say that I went out front with her and picked a basketful of beautiful spring flowers. Her eight-year-old brother also wanted to help out too, and soon I found myself giving a mini-lesson in trimming flowers.
We brought the flowers inside and they excitedly chatted with me about color, design and flower placement. I hadn’t intended to give a Floral Design 101 lesson that morning, but thanks to the natural ebb and flow of learning, that’s what happened.
That morning was also a good example of how spontaneous learning and relationship building often go hand-in-hand. My two kids—who had been fighting like cats and dogs the day before–were working together to put together their arrangements. They were even sharing flowers (gasp!) and taking suggestions from each other about how to improve the design. I could not have planned a better lesson in kindness, sharing and cooperation!
It was amazing to see. But most of all it was effective. They saw for themselves that yes, they could get along and they could be friends.
It wasn’t just another lecture from mom on how they needed to get along. They came together and bonded over an unexpected moment in the day—all on their own. We were building family relationships while simply allowing the day to unfold.
This is critical training for the real world. In our workplaces or in other social settings, we are continually surrounded by those who think differently and act differently that we do. And it takes practice to learn how to interact with those who are different from us.
I believe that God designed the home to be the perfect training ground for practicing these behaviors.
How have you seen your kids develop deeper relationships through everyday life situations? How does your family include the concept of building family relationships into your homeschool day?