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Do you want to make an impact on your grandchildren‘s lives? Do you want to grow closer to them, develop meaningful relationships, and leave a legacy for them?

Here are seven ways you can build intentionally stronger relationships with your grandkids:

1. Plan special times together. It doesn’t have to be a week each summer; it could be a few weekends throughout the year, or even a weekly afternoon visit. The quantity of time is not as important as the quality.

2. Ask the parents to stay away! This is time for you and your grandchildren alone. If the parents are with you, the dynamics shift because kids will always focus more on their parents.

3. Take advantage of the resources around you. Whether it’s big-city attractions such as museums and aquariums, small-town amusements such as miniature golf and bowling, or natural resources such as lakes and woods, show the kids what’s special about your area.

4. The simplest pleasures are often the best. You don’t always have to be on the go. The time you spend at home with the kids will often be the times they remember best.

5. Make a plan, but be flexible. If something’s not working, don’t force it. If mini-golf is rained out, move indoors for crafts or board games. If the kids are tired and cranky, just take some down time. A plan is only there to guide you, not control you.

6. See things through the kids’ eyes. What excites your grandkids? What do they really want to try, learn about, or explore? Let that be your guide as you consider activities.

7. Give them your undivided attention. Don’t spoil them or cater to their every whim. But know that the love kids receive from you makes them feel special. So when they’re with you, be with them. It’s that simple.
Give intentional grandparenting a try. The time and love you invest will be paid back tenfold by the strong relationships and lasting memories you build with your grandchildren.

–Information from Ramona Roberson

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The very nature of depression interferes with a person’s ability to seek help, draining energy and self-esteem. For depressed seniors, raised in a time when mental illness was highly stigmatized and misunderstood, it can be even more difficult. Some seniors don’t believe depression is a real illness. Others are too proud or ashamed to ask for assistance, for fear of becoming a burden to their families. With such roadblocks, assistance from others can mean the difference between suffering and recovery.

If a senior citizen you care about is depressed, you can make a difference by offering emotional support. Listen to your loved one with patience and compassion. Don’t criticize feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. You can also help by seeing that your friend or family member gets and accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Help your loved one find a good doctor, accompany him or her to appointments, and offer moral support.

Other tips for helping a depressed elderly friend or relative:

  • Invite your loved one out. Depression is less likely when people’s bodies and minds remain active. Suggest activities to do together that your loved one used to enjoy: walks, an art class, a trip to the museum or the movies—anything that provides mental or physical stimulation.
  • Schedule regular social activities. Group outings, visits from friends and family members, or trips to the local senior or community center can help combat isolation and loneliness. Be gently insistent if your plans are refused: depressed people often feel better when they’re around others.
  • Plan and prepare healthy meals. A poor diet can make depression worse, so make sure your loved one is eating right, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and some protein at every meal.
  • Encourage the person to follow through with treatment. Depression usually recurs when treatment is stopped too soon, so help your loved one keep up with his or her treatment plan. If it isn’t helping, look into other medications and therapies.
  • Make sure all medications are taken as instructed. Remind the person to obey doctor’s orders about the use of alcohol while on medication. Help them remember when to take their dose.
  • Watch for suicide warning signs. Seek immediate professional help if you suspect that your loved one is thinking about suicide.

“Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy.

-Robert A. Heinlein

Parenting Tip:

It is tempting to remove obstacles and pave the way for our children to have an easy life. Maybe we think that we’re doing them a favor. Maybe we’re trying to make up for the difficulties we faced as a child. Or maybe, just maybe, if we’re honest, it’s because making their lives easier often makes ours easier as well.

But remember, easy doesn’t mean better. It takes grit and determination to succeed in this world and you don’t get those two things by sitting around and having your parents make your life a cakewalk for you. You get those two things by working hard and struggling. Give your kids the opportunity to achieve something on their own – through difficulties – and you’ll be giving them one of the greatest gifts that money can’t buy.
-Hal Runkel, Author of ScreamFree Parenting

Day 1: Take some time to think about the areas in your life that keep you from spending time with your family. Think of possible ways to change. Discuss with your family at the end of the day what you discovered and what you plan to do.

Day 2: Family Time. Even it it requires getting up early, the family is to sit down and have breakfast together.

Day 3: Take this day to do whatever you want to do as an individual. If you want to be alone or if you want to spend it with a certain member of the family, do as you wish.

Day 4: Family Time. Choose a favorite relative for everyone to write a letter to during the day. Spend time talking about different memories and feelings connected with that person.

Day 5: Family Time. Let each family member tell their most unforgettable family memory. That is, an event or activity the family did together they will never forget. For example, a memorable vacation.

Day 6: Family Time. The men are to cook dinner. During the meal tell different stories of something funny or embarrassing that you have done in the past or recently.

Day 7: Family Time. Talk about the past months’ activities. What was your favorite activity? What did you learn?

—–

Don’t be discouraged if you missed a day, or don’t worry if you did something a little different. The most important thing is that you spend more time together as a family than you normally would.

Day 1: Make a list of the 10 most important things a person can do to develop trust in a relationship. Rank the 10 items from the most important to the least important.

Day 2: Family Time. Share your lists made yesterday and determine how your family is doing in the area of trust.

Day 3: Family Time. It is time to reward the winner of the “touching” contest! The other family members should make a formal presentation of a card that was designed by the family to honor the winner. Discuss what this exercise demonstrated.

Day 4: Using crayons and markers, draw a picture that shows the needed ingredients in a happy home. (For example, you might include a drawing of a heart which would indicate love as an important ingredient for a happy home.)

Day 5: Family Time. Everyone should share your pictures from yesterday’s activity. Be honest, how well does your family hold up to your pictures? What areas do you need to improve on?

Day 6: Have the parents (or single parent) go on a date without the children.

Day 7: Family Time. Draw family names out of a hat. Send a thank you card in the mail to the person who’s name you draw, thanking them for something they have done for you or the family.

Day 1: Family Time. All ow time this day for each member to share the previous day’s task.

Day 2: Begin a contest that will run for the next eight days. The object is to see who can give the most loving touches to other members of the family and who can receive the most loving touches from other family members. Each member is to keep up with how many times they deliver a loving touch and how many loving touches they receive for the next eight days. “Loving touches” should be defined.

Day 3: Family Time. Play “Spin the Bottle.” Have the family sit in a circle on the florr. Put an empty bottle in the middle of the circle. Take turns spinning it. Each family member should say something positive to the person the bottle points to.

Day 4: Send a note to each member of your family that completes the statement, “The one things you do most often (or the one thing you have done) that shows me you really love me is ___”

Day 5: Family Time. Spend this evening looking at family photgraphs together.

Day 6:  Family Time. Invite a recently widowed individual to your house to share a family meal.

Day 7: Family Time. It is time to look at the assignments from Day 4 and 5. How have you done as individuals and as a family in carrying out your commitments? Do any revisions need to take place in anyone’s lists? Continue to hold on to these lists until a later date.

Day 1: Discuss how you would like your family to be closer and the reasons for doing this project. Decide the best time to come together for family time.

Day 2:  Family Time. Let each family member pick a day during the upcoming month which will be “their” day. Circle those days on a calendar and put the family member’s name on the date. On that day they are to have their favorite meal and choose an activity which they want to entire family to participate in.

Day 3: Family Time. Turn off all electrical items that can interrupt (TV, Internet, Cell phone, ipod, etc.) and have the entire family play a game together.

Day 4: Each family member should design and make a card for each member of the family in which thoughts and feelings of appreciation are expressed. These cards should be left in places where the family members will find them.

Day 5: Spend this day working on the following lists: (1) What I don’t like about how our family treats each other; (2) How I wish we treated each other; (3) What will I do to help make my second list come true. These lists should be done in complete honesty without fear of retaliation or reaction from other family members.

Day 6: Family Time. Each person should take the time to share their lists which they prepared the previous day. Let everyone share list one before moving to list two, and so on to list three. No one is allowed to react or defend while listening to the others’ lists. Allow this to be a time of learning how each family member feels about the family. Designate one person to hold on to all the lists to be used later in this month.

Day 7: Spend this day trying to complete the statement, “The one thing I wish this family understood about me is ___”

Have a great week and do not get discouraged if you get behind. Don’t give up, skip a day if you must.

This program was written by former Christian Counseling Center therapist David Johnson, MSW and Scott Bonk, MS.

The month of June is going to be dedicated to the idea of bringing your family closer together through a months worth of actions. Each Monday a week worth of suggestions will be given on how to grow your family closer together. So prepare your family now to begin a month worth next week. God bless your efforts of bringing your family closer together.

“The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

This notion seems to contradict how most of us behave. We tend to say things to our spouses and our children that we would never be caught dead saying to a perfect stranger. Why is that? Why do we think that it is acceptable to allow politeness to fly out of the window with those most dear to us?

Maybe it’s a sign of trust. We can really be ourselves around our family and we don’t have to be so “on guard” all the time. That may be the case, but here’s one question. Why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward to those you love the most? After all,  they are the ones you will end up seeing day in and day out. Try this: In dealing with your spouse or your kids today, pretend that this is the first day you’ve met them. Act as if you care what they think of you, and chances are, you’ll make quite an impression.

by Hal Runkel, LMFT

Author of “Scream Free Parenting.”

Simple ways to make life a little happier every day.

  • Spend some quality fun time together. Turn off cell phones and the television.

  • Read at least one book at bedtime.

  • Keep in touch with your family often.

  • Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for ___________; Today I accomplished ___________.

  • Try to make at least three people smile each day.

  • Clear clutter from you house, your car, your desk and let new energy flow into your life.

  • Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is about.

  • Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

  • Life isn’t fair but it’s still good.

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