Wednesday, June 10, 2015

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR KEEPING THE FAMILY TOGETHER

A few weeks ago, I was a part of a bubbly laughing off our heads mommy and daddy audience who were a part of the B3 Magazine's Parent's Date Night. While the night featured hilarious, laugh out loud moments, what stuck the most were the very impactful presentations. With the theme Paving the path from diapers to diplomas" flowing throughout the series of activities, the emphasis was on equipping parents with the tools for emotional, social and academic success. In line with this theme, local entrepreneur Nicole McLaren Campbell of AIM Educational Services presented on catering to the educational aspect of your child's well being while Antonnette Cowan-Palmer of NCB focused on the educational aspect. But what jumped at me the most was Melanie Schwapp's presentation on keeping the family together. Schwapp, local author of the book Dew Angels (Pick up a copy via Amazon) shared some very important pointers and today we share her meaningful presentation on what she calls "Creating a deep comfort and friendship in the home within a sometimes erratic and volatile world"


When I became a mother, I was not ready. I mean, I had the nursery beautifully decorated with all the things a first time mother has – the diaper holder thingy, the wet wipe warmer, the measuring spoon for the measuring spoon that measured the formula, 962 pretty dresses so my new daughter could wear a new one every half an hour …..I had it all. But at that moment when Briana was born and they brought her to me, I quaked. I wasn’t ready for the love I felt. It was a physical feeling, so strong that it hurt every fibre of my heart. I had never felt anything like that in my life, and it frightened me. I knew then that this precious blessing was now completely in my care, and I would be responsible for every single thing that came into her life.

Thank goodness that the instinct of motherhood kicked in, and Briana survived me. So did the two other children that followed her. It was not an easy road, though. I think my husband and I learned a lot more from our children than they learned from us. For one thing, we got a whopping lesson in something called ‘Patience’. We also learned that above everything else, the joy and security within our family should never be compromised by anything. We strove, through the years, to create a deep comfort and friendship within our home, a security that has become a stable buffer within a sometimes erratic and volatile world.

A few pointers that served us well were –"

ALWAYS MAKE THE CHILDREN TO FEEL VALIDATED IN THEIR HOME – Make them know that there is nothing that they cannot discuss with you. The world is a confusing place, and there is no better place for our children to get information and advice than from the ones who will always tell them the truth and who have their best interest at heart. So many times I want to run and hide when my children ask embarrassing questions or wish to discuss uncomfortable issues, but I try to ensure that my answers are as honest as their age groups allow. The sense of trust that is established when our children learn to believe in the security of home will be an invaluable tool as they grow.

LET THEM KNOW THAT FAILURE IS NOT THE END OF THE ROAD -
I always tell my children that there are many doors to enter the same building….some for employees, some for deliveries, some for clients. If you go to the employee door and see that it’s locked and you don’t have the employee code, do you go home and say “Oh, I failed to open the door so I gave up” No, you walk around the building and you find the door that opens for you. That’s all failure is ….a REDIRECTION to another door that will probably have an air-conditioned waiting room and free wine and cheese!!


CREATE FAMILY TRADITIONS – when our children were younger, every Friday was “treat day”. They would take turns to choose where we ate each week. I find it taught them to respect other’s wishes, because even if the others didn’t like the choice that week, they still had to go along. Now Friday nights are still eat out nights for us as a family. It’s a great way to end the week, when everyone can let their hair down and just relax together. Even if we don’t eat out, we try to do something different on a Friday night – make pizza, or burgers, or grill outside - no matter how small the meal, it’s still a great bonding time for the family.

PLAY GAMES TOGETHER, BE SILLY –
We have Schwappolympics where we have random races in our driveway or parking lots. We play hide and seek at night, and now with most of the hiding spots in our garden haven been used up, it’s quite a challenge to come up with creative new hiding spots. In my opinion, laughter is one of the greatest assets for family bonding. It creates the memories that gently carry a family through challenging times.

HAVE DINNER TOGETHER AS A FAMILY –Chat with your children as you would your friends. These are the special, jovial moments that allow children to open up so much more, and which encourage them to share many things that they might not have in regular or tenser situations.
SHARE SPECIAL, INTIMATE, INDIVIDUAL MOMENTS WITH EACH OF YOUR CHILDREN –
Read with them, cuddle with them at bedtime, pray with them, let them experience the physical feeling of the cocoon of your love and acceptance. Studies prove that positive physical contact actually cause the brain to secrete Oxytocin, the ‘happy hormone’, and also stimulates the electrical impulses in the brain which encourage cell production.

TRAVEL AS A FAMILY –
See new places together and experience the excitement of this mysterious world. Even within your own country, travel is a great way to bond. It teaches children tolerance toward other cultures and opens their minds to a global world.

SPEND TIME PRIVATELY WITH YOUR SPOUSE –
Let your children see you in love with your spouse. Be realistic – let them see that there can be disagreement, but that love exists beyond conflict. Let them see you being affectionate and appreciative of each other.

TRUST YOUR CHILDREN TO GOD –
So many times as a parent I have only been able to kneel before God and just cry, ‘Help’. I cannot tell you how many times I have made mistakes and had to beg the Lord to balance those errors within my children. I have see Him turn so many things around in my favour, and the reassurance that I am never alone in loving my children and wanting the best for them is unmatched in by any parenting book or seminar.
I think if we make our families the most important part of our lives, DELIBERATELY building and shaping happy, self-adjusted children, the world can have a few more human beings that will create a better humanity.

In a word, Empowering.  I therefore charge you my Jamaican Mommies and Dads to apply these tips in your home.  You'll be amazed at the big difference that small steps make.  

Have any other impactful tips to share? Leave us a comment below.

 For More from Melanie, be sure to cop a copy of Dew Angels

P.S.  Have you checked out our new Jamaica Mommies affiliate yet?! Pop on by www.extrahandsja.com. It's all about connecting Service Providers and Customers!! So List your services for FREE or subscribe for listing updates!!

Cheers!

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