Talk Your Way to Family Closeness

family counselor child help Researchers report that the average child in America communicates one-on-one with a parent only 7 minutes per week if you discount organizing activities, lectures, discussing chores, reprimands, etc. I don't know how much it is in your family, but it might prove interesting for you to assess this in your own home. It is really important for parents and children to interact and communicate about a wide variety of topics and interests. This increases bonding, is an outward expression of love and can be fun learning more about each others' worlds.

What can you talk about? Just about anything although I would suggest, when your aim is good communication, to avoid any hint of a lecture otherwise your child may tune you out. Listen well and avoid discounting their opinions and ideas. Topics could include current events, childhood memories, calling grandparents or other older relative to ask questions about the 'olden' days, summer plans and more. You can also play a game I made up called 'The Game of 3s.' It involves naming your top three favorite (fill in the blank). It could be your top three favorite movies, foods, vacation spots, colors, animals, trees, books or places you want to visit someday (for me that's Bora Bora, Morocco and Rwanda!). This game can stimulate a lot of great conversation!

An ideal time to do this is during a Fun Family Activity (see Sidebar to click on a live radio show with me discussing this topic in greater detail). Fun Family Activities can be just about anything that any member of the family enjoys doing from cooking a Dinner with a Theme (everybody helps and perhaps you discuss topics around this Mexican Fiesta or Italian Spaghetti Dinner, etc.), walking the family dog, charades, board or card games, playing catch, Frisbee, hula hoops, badminton or basketball. Notice all of these are free and can be done in your own home or a park nearby. Sometimes it's fun to go places for the Fun Family Activity (and spend $); however, it's not necessary for family closeness. In fact, I don't want kids to think that the further you get from home and the more money you spend, the more fun you're having. That's just plain wrong!

So talk more, stimulate your brains, dream big and love your family by talking and understanding each other more! Have fun!

Excerpted in part from Sharon's classic guide for parents: Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.

Copyright 2008. Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.