It's a fact: The less time children and parents spend together and the fewer thoughts and activities they share, the more powerful the entertainment media, peer groups and other influences will be in shaping the thoughts and lives of our children.
"Whether or not a child will adopt the parents' values depends upon the establishment of a close relationship with the parent and a continuing and positive parental presence throughout childhood,"; says Dr. Isabelle Fox, author of Being There: The Benefits of a Stay-at-Home Parent.
Your children need to know you value them and that your time with them is for you a top priority.
"You make kids feel valued by spending regular time with them,"; Dr. Fox says. "When your kids feel valued, they'll identify with you and want to please you. They're not going to learn from someone they don't have a relationship with.";
Of course, with busy and sometimes conflicting schedules of family members, time together is not always easy to come by. One way to ensure that you and your children spend time together is to block out time on your daily and weekly calendars to be with them, just as you would schedule a meeting with an important client. Some families set aside a regular time each week for family get-togethers. One father told me: "We keep Sunday afternoons free for family outings, day trips, hiking, going to movies, a dinner out and the like. It helps us stay bonded together.";
You might want to designate one evening a week as family night. Explain to your children that this is a time for family activities and conversation. Plan to feature something interesting each week. It might be miniature golf or a baseball game; other times it might be an evening at home with games and popcorn.
Carefully evaluate your family activities. Simply wandering around a shopping mall as a form of family entertainment on weekends can leave everyone feeling unsatisfied and put the emphasis on wrong values. Instead of the mall, substitute active, family-centered activities such as a trip to a museum, a walk in the woods or a visit to a park or arboretum.
Family time can also mean getting work done together. Rather than dividing up household chores, let everyone help cook dinner, clean up the kitchen or do yard work, laundry and maintenance projects around the house. Not only will your children get to spend time with you, but they will learn to do new things and observe their parents working.