Family is important, but exactly how do we show our loved ones that we care? Notes in lunch boxes, funny texts, and occasional gifts are all nice, but nothing can replace spending quality time with family.
What is Family Bonding?
Not every second we spend with our families qualifies as “family bonding.” Hectic mornings and hurried shuffling to or from events can hardly count as quality time. Family bonding usually occurs during quality time, when everyone is not only enjoying each other’s company but also opening up and connecting. These connections might arise from profound or revealing conversations, or they might form during simple, enjoyable, and otherwise mundane moments spent with those you love.
Family Bonding Activities
Playing a board game, camping, or cooking something together all generally feel like forms of family bonding.
Meanwhile, some common family activities are not prime for bonding but can be turned around with a few small adjustments. Driving to school, grocery shopping or TV time are examples of things that families often do together but don’t necessarily count as bonding time. Even if the family is sharing space, they’re not always sharing an experience. Unless people are making an active effort to engage with one another, these errands are often done on autopilot and don’t frequently build close family connections.
However, if you use the time or technology tools to foster discussion instead of avoid one — people talking about what they’re seeing in their feeds that day, for example — the conversation and experience become a shared one.
Also, simply forcing the entire family to do something together in an attempt to “bond” doesn’t always work. Everybody has to invest in a shared experience. Some family members might enjoy watching a movie and discussing it afterward, while others wouldn’t get much out of that. You can’t force somebody to bond over an activity they refuse to invest in. Ultimately, when deciding on a bonding activity, it should be something everyone can enjoy.
How to Spend More Time with Family
One of the most important ways to secure family time is to schedule it in advance. Families can do this on a case-by-case basis, or they can establish a recurring event, like “Taco Tuesdays”. This gives kids time to move around their calendars and allows parents to plan ahead.
However, not all family time has to be meal time. Here are some other things families can schedule do together:
- Volunteer for a nonprofit in their area;
- See a family-friendly movie or play;
- Play games; even give the kids’ favorite video games a try!
- Gather everyone and spend some time outside, whether that’s camping, playing at the park, or going for a bike ride;
- Attend a family-focused camp. They’ll have plenty of planned activities for the family to go through, often specifically designed to encourage bonding. Families with special needs or limited resources can find a camp that works for them.
Effects of Not Spending Time with Family
When families don’t spend quality time together, it’s harder for them to function as a strong support system for one another. If a family member has a personal problem, they may not feel comfortable asking for help. Instead, they’ll attempt to deal with the problem themselves. This isn’t always the best idea — especially for children or teenagers, who haven’t developed the life skills necessary to tackle common obstacles. Keeping problems a secret can cause frustration, stress, or helplessness.
Continued lack of support can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and resentment. Not surprisingly, kids without strong family bonds are more likely to have drug abuse problems. Additionally, they are more likely to develop antisocial behaviors, become aggressive, and have unsafe relationships. This is distressing news, especially as families spend less and less time together. Social media envelops our free time, which is ever-shrinking thanks to long commutes, second jobs, extracurricular activities, and more.
Coordinating family time can seem impossible when everyone has an overloaded schedule, but it remains one of the most important things parents can do for their children’s health.
Benefits of Spending Time with Family
Spending time with family strengthens everyone’s support system. Having people to rely on reduces stress. However, improving family bonding has some added benefits for children:
- Higher self-esteem;
- Better emotional control;
- Improved academic performance.
Spending time with younger children reinforces a strong emotional bond and allows parents to impart their own life values. Teenagers can be resilient to a parent’s teachings, but continuing to spend time with them lets them know that they always have a safe space. It’s important to keep up a support system.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what exactly families are doing. As long as everyone is having fun and spending time together, investing in a shared experience, they will be building a long-lasting foundation. Family bonding helps strengthen individual relationships and the unit as a whole. Make time for family, starting now.
Camp Rainbow Gold is for Families
At Camp Rainbow Gold, our mission goes beyond serving the child who has been diagnosed with cancer. We know how a cancer diagnosis can affect the whole family, so our programs are available for the whole family. Two family camps offer a weekend retreat where families can rest, reconnect, and enjoy the great outdoors. Family events like moving nights, spring picnics, family barbeques, and more, not only give families a chance to have fun together but also to meet other families who have faced similar situations.
New families who have ever experienced a pediatric cancer diagnosis can learn more about our programs by filling out a New Family Onboarding Form.