It seems as if the modern world is designed to drive families apart. We are constantly plugged in to the world but unplugged from each other. Our children are more concerned with how many “likes” they get than how much “love” they give. Raising a child that is family-focused and respectful is not impossible it just takes time and attention. Put down your phone, unplug your laptop and try one or all of these ideas.
Nothing inspires appreciation for what you have more than seeing what others don’t. Take the entire family and volunteer at a soup kitchen or the foodbank. Adopt a family during the holiday season and have your children help pick out presents for other children. Offer to deliver meals to immobile. Spend time in a nursing home visiting the elderly that don’t have their own family.
Any and all of these activities will show your children first-hand how lucky they are to have a roof over their heads, food on the table and family to share it with. It will also set them up for a life-long love of community service which is very important because there will always be people in need.
Children need to understand the labor of love that goes into running a household. Once they see what their parents go through to make sure hot meals are prepared each evening, clean clothes are hung in the closet and the house is clean and tidy, children will have a much better appreciation for the amount of work involved.
Let your kids help you prepare meals then expect them to clear the table and load the dishwasher. Have them help you fold clothes and put them away. Children of all ages are capable of helping around the house. Little ones can put their own toys and dust while bigger kids can vacuum and even clean bathrooms.
Celebrate Your Heritage
If your family is lucky enough to having living grandparents, make sure your children get to spend time with them. Facilitate conversations between your children and their grandparents by asking simple questions like “What do we have today that you didn’t have when you were (insert child’s age)?” and watch in amazement as your children realize that people they know grew up with indoor plumbing, TVs and the internet.
If grandparents are not in the picture, teach your children about their heritage; not only about ethnicity and genealogy but about what has been historically important to your family. Passing down heirlooms from generation to generation and putting them on display as decor is a great way to do this. An heirloom could be anything from a piece of furniture to a piece of jewelry. The story behind why that piece was important enough to save and pass down will help your children connect the past with the future.
Establishing traditions will give your children something to look forward to and look back on with fond memories. Traditions don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be impactful. They can be as simple as making an entire family of snow angels in the yard after the first snow fall each year or collecting seashells was you walk along the beach in the summer.
As your children grow, they will start to realize the simple things that you’ve done with them every year provided them with consistency and comfort. They will value the time spent as a family and cherish those memories perhaps even keeping up some of those traditions with their own children.
As you can see by the suggestions above, teaching your children the value of family is not elaborate or expensive. It is simply about spending time, giving attention and sharing stories. It is our duty as parents to instill such virtues in our children. It is not enough to put food in their bellies if we are not also nourishing their emotional growth as well.
Most children will take for granted that they have parents that love them enough to want to teach them these things but take solace in the fact that if these lessons are taught well, your children will grow up to be respectful and generous adults. They are the legacy we leave in this world, and their children are their legacy. Instilling in them the ability to recognize and value family is our greatest accomplishment as parents.