Family Relationships

Family Relationships

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    ARealAge answered

    We live in an amazing time. Whether your extended family lives 2 miles away or 2,000 miles away, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. Cell phones, computers, and fax machines make staying connected to family members especially convenient for your children.

    Establishing bonds and feeling the unconditional love family members have to offer is especially important to your children’s developing identity and sense of self. It’s also another source of guidance and wisdom if your child is ever afraid of talking to you about something. You might be surprised to find out what your 5-year-old told your sister, but never mentioned to you!

    You can help your children nurture those family bonds by having them write Grandma and Grandpa e-mails or send letters the old-fashioned way. You could even send artwork via fax machine! Distance is no object when family members join an Internet group such as that offered on the Yahoo Web pages. Form a family group and then enjoy posting and receiving notes and photos. You can also program the phone numbers of aunts, uncles, and cousins into the telephone so children can call at the touch of a button.

    Not only will your children benefit from staying connected, your family members will love it too.

    From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

    Take the RealAge Test!

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    AKathleen Hall, Preventive Medicine, answered
    Parents must take the lead and demonstrate that joy and fulfillment come from peace and balance. You will only have your children under your roof for a short time, so cherish the opportunity to model rituals that promote tending to joy.

    Food is a blessing, and mealtimes should be, too. No cell phones or technology allowed at the table. Take thirty minutes of uninterrupted time as a family. Use colorful china, cloth napkins, and say a prayer or observe a moment of silence showing gratitude for your food, the farmers, and the people gathered around the table. Share your day, but keep it light. Meals are not the time for discipline or judgment, but times to enjoy and support one another's presence.

    Food preparation can be part of the blessing of mealtime as well, even if there's not time to participate in homemade creations every night. You must demonstrate balance in your family life. Playing and exercising as a family can be a fountain of joy. Put up a basketball hoop or badminton net in the backyard, and play with your family after dinner each night. Go for evening walks or bike together in your neighborhood after dinner. When we play we become vulnerable and open our lives to others, and joy flows both ways in and out.

    No matter how stressful the day has been for children or parents, end the day on a positive note.

    Don't neglect getting away from it all -- together. Invite your children to help research where to go on your family vacation. When you plan ahead it creates excitement and anticipation. It doesn't have to be expensive. Set aside an amount of money you can afford to spend, and have everyone explore where you can vacation for that amount of money. You will create lifetime memories of joy for your family. Vacations are also an opportunity for spiritual retreats in nature and for spending more time connecting with the Divine in order to fuel family joy.

    Go to the beach and watch the waves together. Swim or wade in the ocean, in rivers, in lakes, streams, and springs. Listen, look, and feel the movement of the natural world.

    Every day of your life you are creating everlasting memories for every member of your family. Wake up every morning with the clear intention to create joy in your family. Before you go to sleep at night, review your day with your family and make sure your family had some joy infused with the responsibilities and work. The family who experiences joy together stays together.
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    AKathleen Hall, Preventive Medicine, answered
    There are simple ways to help develop honesty in your family. Research continues to reveal the positive psychological virtues fostered by simply eating dinner together as a family. You create a forum for the cultivation of honesty and vulnerability when you take the time and commitment to celebrate food and share stories with each other.

    Each holiday is an opportunity to teach your children about the value of honesty. As you spend holiday time with other families, neighbors, and friends, you have the chance to observe, listen, and foster your children's honesty about their experiences. This can create the basis for a lifetime of rich, loving memories.

    Many of us do not have a biological family rooted in honesty. We are then challenged to create a nonbiological family where we can live in honesty. You can seek family in your community through special interest groups such as animal rescue groups, twelve-step programs, yoga and meditation groups, or gardening enthusiasts. Celebrate holidays, rituals, birthdays and losses with your supportive family.

    Anything is possible when we create a family environment where everyone is supported and loved in their journey to honesty and truth. Like an underground spring, the pressure is too great to keep it from spilling out sooner or later.
  • 2 Answers
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    AKathleen Hall, Preventive Medicine, answered
    The current trend of remodeling kitchens and filling them with gadgets and gizmos is our attempt to reconnect with times past, when the kitchen was the heart of the home. We all yearn to reclaim the comfort and joy of eating and cooking in the kitchens of our mothers and grandmothers. The kitchen is the new living room, the social area of the home, the primary entertainment venue for the home. It is the place where family, holiday and religious rituals are celebrated. Intimate conversations are carried deep into the night with the hearts and souls of those gathered there inextricably woven together.

    Technology has blessed us with convenience, but we must be cautious that this does not drive us further and further away from our grounding in the earth. The core of the human experience, the foundation of our drive to do productive work, is the transformation of raw ingredients into mental, physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment and sustenance. It is time to reclaim this basic connection.
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    ATanya Remer Altmann, MD, Pediatrics, answered
    Sibling rivalry

    Sibling rivalry happens in every family that includes more than one child. In this video, Dr. Oz guest Dr. Tanya Altmann explains how to stop your children from warring with their brothers and sisters.

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    ALynne Kenney, Psychology, answered
    Write it down
    With the family all together, I’d like you to take out a big sheet of paper and, on the left side, write down as many of your current household rules as you can think of. Chances are, you’ve got a lot of don’t rules. Work together to figure out how to turn those don’ts into do’s, and write the new, positive rules on the right hand side of your sheet of paper.

    Now talk with your children about why you have these rules, and why you want them to exhibit each of these positive behaviors. Look at your mission statement and talk about how your family rules help you achieve your family’s goals. Are there other positive rules that you or the children wish to add to the list? Discuss why they might be helpful to your family or further your family mission.

    You can also point to your values list and talk about how your rules give strength to your values. You can even make this a fun game: Ask the kids to match an item on the rules list with an item on the values list .

    Start with 3 rules
    It’s hard to all the rules in mind, 24 hours a day. So, with the help of your children, choose 3 rules, write them down and put them in a prominent place, like the ‘fridge or the bathroom mirror.

    You’ll start by focusing on these rules first, and you’ll track your family’s success in following the rules for a week. The idea is to teach the skills they need, little by little, and to thoughtfully follow and understand the rules.

    Review it
    After a week, talk to your kids about how they think they did with these rules. Let them know how you feel they did, and how you feel you did. Then choose three new rules to work on. If you need to repeat a rule, that’s fine, as long as your children understand why.

    The purpose of this discussion is to teach your children that that they will become strong, thoughtful and happy people if they learn now how to live with positive behaviors, not negative ones. And let them know that you will try to do the same.

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    ALynne Kenney, Psychology, answered
    Far more than needing to be told what not to do, your children need to be told what to do – and more importantly, how to do it. You want to raise thinking children, problem-solving children. You’re not bad parents if you operate with more don’ts than do’s, but I believe you are losing a golden opportunity to use your rules to help your children grow into their life skills. You’re missing the chance to show your children how rules and structure lead to opportunity and growth, not shackles and immobilization. What I’m suggesting as you develop your family rules is a do this parenting style.

    Chat about your family rules with your children over dinner, in the park, or in the car (don’t overdo it until it feels like a chore, just look for those moments when it can be relatively easily brought into the conversation). Ask them what kinds of rules would help you to be a happier family. Ask them what rules they break that get them in trouble and what rules they observe that make them feel good. Wonder aloud if you break any family rules. I know I do, and I appreciate it when the children say, “Hey Mom, that’s not how we live.” Then I can revise my words, actions or behavior. I can even apologize when needed. That’s not showing weakness, it’s showing that you respect the family’s culture of rules and stand by them. It reinforces the power of your rules.


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    AArmin Brott, Pediatrics, answered
    You can help the elder sibling get over his jealousy of a newborn by:
    • Start by telling him—often—that you and Mom love him very much and that those feelings will never change.
    • Keep a few small presents around in case big brother feels left out when people bring gifts for the baby but not for him.
    • Stress the perks of being an older brother. For example, the baby is too little to play with “big boy” toys, or eat food that big kids do. It’s an odd way to build self-esteem, but it works.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered

    Each minute we are plugged in electronically means less engaging face-to-face time with our kids. Though there is no guarantee, fifty years of solid research shows that the best way to reduce risky behaviors and raise emotionally healthy kids is the strength of the parent-child relationship.

    Here are parenting tips to help you unplug and engage more with your family.

    Check online records. While you may have important business obligations, make sure you’re not plugged in too much to risk crucial family interactions. So do an honest assessment on your typical daily online habits. How are you doing? The key, of course, is to find the balance that works for your family, and then stick to it.

    Ask the kids. Have a courageous conversation as a family. Ask flat out: “Am I too plugged in?” (And be prepared for their honest answer).

    Use voice mail and alarm features. While there are clear advantages to social networking, don’t let the ease of an online connection steal precious minutes from your family interactions. Identify those key “family moment times.” Then turn on your cell’s voice mail features. Set the alarm on your computer that alerts you as to your online length.

    Create “sacred times.” Kids say that family meals, school activities, sporting events, and after school (pick up and welcoming connectors) are when they’re most bothered by their parents’ networking behaviors. Identify your own family’s “sacred times,” announce them to your family, post them, and then preserve them.

    Tune into silent signals. Kids usually don’t give flat-out requests asking us to put down our Blackberries or close those laptops, but their behavior can indicate silent wishes. Each child has a unique way of letting you know they wish you’d plug into them more, so identify your child’s signals, tune in and then plug in. When we asked kids how do you know your parent is listening to you? The answer was always: “She looks at me eye to eye.” “He tunes into me and not his dumb iPhone.”

    Don’t text and drive! When teens were asked the million-dollar question: “Where did you get the idea it was okay to text and drive?” Their answer: “My parents do it all the time!” Research also verifies what teens say. We are texting and driving more than our kids, and it is sending them a potentially deadly message that it’s okay to do so. So do not text and drive.
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    ADiscovery Health answered
    Baby Madness: Kids in Public
    In this video from the Discovery Health show "Baby Madness," Diamond Harris, mother of 7, shares her strategy for keeping her brood orderly in public.