I hope my kids stay close as they get older. I don't mean geographically, although that would be nice! No, I mean close as a family unit. The kind of solid foundation that a healthy family can provide is priceless, and I want to build and provide that for my children. Unfortunately, I've seen petty drama destroy even the tightest of families over time. So while I will do my best to impress upon them the importance of being there for each other, I'll be hoping and praying that they follow through. With any luck, my kids - and yours - will stay close to one another.
The hard work that I'm putting in as a parent - and that you're putting in - will pay off if our kids learn how to get along with one another despite their differences. Family closeness means being close to one another, to care for another, to love one another in a way that trials and hardships cannot undo. Yes, I hope your kids stay bonded to one another, and I hope that our kids stay close to us, too.
One of the reasons I'm so adamant about teaching my children emotional literacy is I want my kids to know that they can come to me with any issues or problems. That their openness will not be met with judgment, but with compassion. I never felt like I could share my innermost hopes and fears with my own parents; that emotional distance only worsened as I got older. As of today, I haven't spoken to my father in over two and a half years. He doesn't even know my daughter exists. It is my worst fear to alienate my own children so severely that they cut me out of the best (and worst) parts of their lives.
But beyond saying, "You know, you can tell me anything," how do we as parents really drive home the importance of that kind of emotional intimacy and bond? Like most of the life lessons that I want to teach my children, I look for real-world examples; both successes and failures. I don't have to look far for a tangible example of what happens when communication breaks down, when self-interest trumps the principle of sticking together as a family unit. I've read it before but have no idea who said it: "I want my children to have a childhood they don't have to recover from."
Luckily, I can also point to lots of examples of really kind and great families in our life. When I see brothers and sisters getting along and helping one another, I point it out to my son. "Isn't that nice, how they care about each other?" When my son isn't so sure that he wants to play nice, I remind him of the families that have been kind to each other. I push the point that family means being together even when it's hard. That to be a part of the family, you have to pitch in and show up with a good attitude.
It's not fair of my to expect that of him but not show up for my own part of the bargain. So I'll be there for him - rain or shine, sickness or health, up or down. Whether I approve of his choices or I'm disappointed, I want him to know nothing will destroy the bedrock foundation that is our family. And as she gets older, I'll have more practice to teach my daughter the same important values. We all will. Time is an exceptional teacher.
How have you made your family a safe place for your children? What learning opportunities have you found to show your children the importance of being there for each other? Tell me on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #FamilyMattters.