The Importance of Personal Family Time

The Importance of Personal Family Time

The aim of every parent is to raise happy and well-adjusted child(ren). From my experience as a single father to reading hundreds of books on parenting. There is one ingredient that holds true. Its that children from birth to adulthood need time and attention from their parents.

I can remember spending a lot of time with my sons when they were toddlers and in their school age years. However, as they reached their pre-teen and teenage years. I found myself stepping into the backdrop of their personal lives.

You see I was involved in their daily school regimine, their after-school activities, and all of their sporting events. The area that I struggled the most to engage my son's was in the area of (P.F.T) Personal Family Time.

So like many parents my attention was centered around raising “successful” son’s so much so. That I overlooked all the opportunities to spend personal quality time with them. 

So today I want to share the benefits children gain when parents create space for personal family time.

Benefits of Personal Family Time on Child/to Parent:

  • A child feels important and loved.
  • A child gets an opportunity to practice the behavior of his or her parents.
  • A parent observes the child’s strengths.
  • The child has a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings.
  • The parent and child develop a stronger bond. 

The key to PFT is to give your family your full attention by being both physically and emotionally present. So by spending personal family time parents can create an environment filled with love, understanding, and support.  

So here is a list of activities you can use to get you started:

  1. Family meal time. This could become a family event from the selection of the menu, preparing the food and table, serving, eating together, and cleaning up. During the meal, children and adolescents can be encouraged to talk about what is interesting to them, and not necessarily the usual topics like school and work.
  2. Homework. If parents can spend positive time with their children without conflict, this can be a good bonding experience where the school work itself is just a means to the end.
  3. Sports. Whether it is playing catch in the yard, going to the gym, or watching the child play or perform, active and positive involvement is rewarding.
  4. Hobbies such as drawing, crafts, collecting are great fodder for conversation.
  5. Games. Board games and cards allow for the family to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
  6. Religious activities.
  7. Shopping with the family can make a simple chore an event.
  8. Entertainment. Attend a concert or show together.
  9. Go to the theater, watch television, or rent movies. By watching some shows your child enjoys, you will learn more about him/her and can use the topics brought up for more interesting discussions.
  10. Outdoor activities such as hiking, walks, bicycling, picnics, or camping. 
  11. Reading Time. For younger children, get in the habit of reading to them. For the adolescent, ask what book they are reading and then read it yourself. In both cases, engage the child in a discussion about the book.

In summary, personal family time should be a fun and enjoyable way to raise healthy and happy children/teens that love and feel loved. Making small changes in the way you spend time with your children. Will leave children/teens knowing that they“matter” and this will be reflected in their life choices.

Back to School- The Impact of Bullying

I am always super excited to see all the Back to School pictures of my nieces, nephews, as well as the children of my co-workers and friends. In every picture I find smiling faces, new uniforms and clothes, fresh footwear and stylish backpacks. Effortlessly, I am drawn to the energy of eagerness seen behind the smiles of each child returning to school.

I am oftentimes reminded of that level of enthusiasm when I look at the photos of my own children throughout their school age years. It’s funny because I recently discovered a picture of a little boy in my family photo album. The amusing thing is that I almost didn’t recognize the image staring back at me; the little boy in the portrait was me. Instantly, I was overtaken by a rush of childhood memories in my mind.

I suddenly found myself remembering all the times that I looked forward to the start of a new school year. The freshness of the school year meant the chance to create relationships and become reacquainted with others: I got a new teacher. I met new people and made new friends. I even got the chance to catch-up with old friends who I hadn’t seen since the end of the last school year. I can remember feeling excited and nervous simultaneously about the new classroom environment, who was going to sit next to me and if my Mom packed all the stuff I liked for lunch.

On the other hand, I can’t help but recall the overwhelming stress and angst that I experienced during class, when I walked down the hallway, while in the locker-room and seated on the school bus. Indeed, I was taunted and bullied throughout the school day; I never told a teacher nor did I talk about it at home.

Ironically, I passed countless adults throughout the school day and no one ever stopped to ask me how my day was going or uttered an “Are you okay?” As a current Father, Parent Consultant and a Survivor of school bulling, I would like to share with you some of the warning signs of bullying and things you can do to stop bullying.

Warning signs a child is being bullied:

  • Sudden loss of interest in schoolwork, after-school activities,  and sports that they once loved
  • May make up excuses as to way they can't attend school
  • May frequently complain of aliments like stomachaches and headaches
  • Appears afraid, sad, depressed and moody when returning home from school. This might be mistaken for typical pre-teen or puberty phase, but don’t dismiss it as just a “stage” when it could be a sign of something more.
  • Shows signs of embarrassment, shame, or negative body image – often a sign a child is being bullied online or in social media platforms

 Signs your child may be bullying others:

  • Peers are participating in delinquent behaviors 
  • Testing limites, boundaries, and rules
  • Showing signs of physical or verbal aggression toward adults and peers 
  • Obsessed with popularity and on the phone or computer more often. Virtual, bullying is real so pay attention to where your child “hangs out” online.
  • Family Challenges -  Parents Divorce, Lack of attention from parents, keep in mind that a change in patterns and behaviors from parents can also impact children/teens in many ways. 

 What to do if you suspect bullying in any form:

  • First, start an open, honest conversation with your child(ren).
  • Make a daily habit of discussing age appropriate 'Hot Topics'  
  • My favorite way to do this, is to ask your child: How was your day? And then ask: What could have made your day better?

If really suspect something is going on:

Contact the school principal/counselor and meet with them right away.

If you suspect Online Bullying:

  1. Start the conversation with your child before you need to: set ground rules and have access to your child’s passwords to all accounts
  2. Set time limits for using phones/computers and have an online presence yourself in order to monitor activity. These small steps will provide you with variable information around your child’s/teen's online behavior.
  3. If you see evidence of cyberbullying, contact school officials and potentially, local law enforcement if necessary.

 

Be Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

When you are faced with disrespectful, disobedient, or rebellious behavior, it is natural to get angry. Unfortunately, the natural response is least likely to uncover the heart issues that lie underneath the child's bad behavior. This is because the "anger of man" distracts us from a pursuit of righteousness. The anger of a parent confronted with a child's poor choice shifts the focus from the child's bad behavior to the parent's angry response. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Listening carefully, speaking little, and helping your child explore the motives behind his behavior can lead to the sort of insight that points the child toward the right path. Replace anger with empathy, and see what happens. Responding to disobedience with empathy rather than anger is difficult, but the reward is great

Creating a Masterpiece

"Learning to create a Masterpiece within yourself can be a life long journey in the role of parenting. However, it requires obsessive focus when you’re a man of color who becomes a father to children from a system of abuse and neglect." 

Be Intentional With Your Words

A parent’s voice can leave a lasting impression in the spirit of a child. As your voice can echo in your children for a lifetime. 

Teens Need Love

As a Father of Teen's 18 and above. I have learned that the job of an adolescent is to be independent. Teens still need to feel, see, and know love from their parents.

I have learned that saying, "I love you" and giving hugs still go a long way.

Tone and Blame, Getting Results or Getting Resentful

So have you ever found yourself saying, "Who left this bathroom looking like this?" Or "Who left the kitchen and dishes like this?" I know I have and often I would ask these questions either after a long work day, or getting ready, for a long work day. I learned to STOP using "Who" questions when I was upset or being sarcastic with my children/teens. As my tone could hurt and add to the challenge. I found that using questions that start with, "How" and "What" would make the difference between me losing my mind, or one of my son's getting "Jacked up!"

Parenting Tip: Self-Talk is great if used correctly I now tell myself. "What can I do right now to stay calm?" "How can I create a chore system that we as a family can live with?"

Our Children are Mirrors of Ourselves

My son's first response always centered on shutting down, when he found himself up against a personal challenge. I would become frustrated because I wanted him to talk it out. I didn't understand why he would always "shut down." Until I asked the question. He turned to me and said.

"Dad I have watched you for years "shut down" when you’re faced with problems and adversities." 

Now parents I have to be honest, as my first thought was to slap him. My second thought was, "I know he didn't just tell me about myself! When I pay all the bills…” Parents you know how we do. He was right. I just didn't know he was watching. Every experience teaches you about yourself, if you are willing to truly see yourself.

Pride

I remember the first time I cried with a purpose, the first time I hugged with my heart, and the first time I was truly aware of my vulnerabilities. All things emotional surfaced when I became a dad. My family would not have had half of the challenges and issues we faced had I learned to check my masculine pride at the door. 

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma training really re-shaped my behavior as a parent. I went from angry outbursts, to resentment, too understanding that behavior had a root cause.

 I learned that my son wasn't a "bad kid", but that he was traumatized. It was important for me as a parent to approach his disruptive behavior through a trauma-informed lens. This helped me to see his behavior as a symptom, and not a part of his identity.

Parents it is okay to invest in Parenting Classes, Trainings, and books that support healthier ways of parenting. It is okay to not have all the answers, we all learn to be a parent along the way.

No one is born a perfect parent.

Self-Care

Remember to always be gentle with self-first. Self-care when done consistently, can be contagious to the children who believe in you. The power of belief in yourself, is seen by your children.

Real Role Models

Be conscious of who your children see in the media. Inspire and encourage them with role models that look like them and have valuable skills to teach them. It is so important that little brown girls see depiction's of themselves on the big screen that go beyond the stereotypes. We must teach our daughters to write, direct, and share their stores in an authentic way.

Reading Between the Lines

Clues in behavior is anything that strongly influences someone. Problem solving is a skill set all teens are learning to develop and one adults are still honing in their skill set. One of the most influential parts of a teen’s life is the music they listen to.

teen-reclkess-trends.jpg

Parents, it is so important that you listen to the music that your children dance, or milly-wop to. Many of the teens that I work with have a difficult time with problem-solving. Many of them do not and will not, talk to parents to help solve problems. How will a teen solve a problem on their own? Look at what they surround themselves with. Learn what kind of person they are becoming by what they are interested in.

Setting Expectations

You may feel your teen is still too young to handle adult responsibilities. However, holding their hand is the exact thing preventing them from becoming a self-sustaining adult.

Parents it's okay! We don't always have to do everything for our children. So let go of all that control. Children will rise to the expectation level you set. Even if they fail they are learning, and you are there to support and guide them. Experience builds character.

 

 

Clues in Behavior

Raising teens at times can be challenging, even taxing on our emotions. Parenting requires the skills of a detective, as we are often looking for clues in understanding our children's behavior.