Q: What are some things I can do to make good memories for my kids and family?
Jim: Building memories as a family is important to create a sense of common identity and heritage. Accomplishing it, though, can be tough -- especially when the demands of the day-to-day grind leave you short on time and sapped of energy. Below are some simple ideas that have been successful memory builders for many families. Perhaps they'll work for yours.
Give the gift of time. Schedule one-on-one time with your kids. If you're running errands, take one of them along and talk and learn about what they find interesting. Make a special day of taking your child to work with you if your employer allows.
Make generous use of pen and paper. While your child is small and growing, journal thoughts, observations and events in their lives and give it to them when they're grown. Write letters to them for special occasions, when a milestone is reached, or when they've experienced success or disappointment. When your son or daughter is ready to leave the nest for college or another destination, write a special letter pronouncing your blessings and conveying your 'release.'
Plan vacations that center around the unique loves and interests of your clan. If funds or time are short, set up a tent and camp out in the backyard.
Make holidays special by starting new traditions or re-creating old ones.
On your child's 13th birthday, take the entire evening to celebrate the transition to adolescence. Consider commemorating the occasion with a meaningful gift.
But whatever you do, don't let the years pass without creating some memorable times that your children will cherish and perhaps pass on to their own kids someday. You'll be glad you did.
Q. We've agreed to let our 25-year-old daughter move back home with us. She's working a part-time job, but feels she needs to come back and 'get her life together' before 'moving on to the next step.' We don't know what this means or how to navigate the process. Any advice?
Dr. Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: You're in good company. For many reasons, some understandable and others regrettable, the number of young adults living at home, or 'boomerang kids,' is at a record high. Whatever the circumstances, the goal for parents in this situation should be the same: to help their child realize emotional and material independence.
To start, it's important to honestly evaluate everyone's motives. Are you lonely? Needing someone who depends on you? Fearful of and avoiding the empty nest? Or do you want to encourage growth and maturity? Is your daughter a 'perma-child,' looking for someone to take care of her? Or is she striving to achieve goals that will lead to her independence?
Next, you'll want to discuss and agree on your terms. Some areas to cover are:
House Rules: If you don't approve of overnight guests, blaring stereos, profanity, drug use, etc., then clarify your standards up front.
Household Responsibilities: Some amount of rent should be required, even if it's below market. Making these payments will develop habits necessary for independence. The same is true for contributions in the form of chores.
Progress Indicators: Ongoing lodging privileges should be tied to evidence of moving forward. Is she searching for full-time work? Are school loans and debts being paid down? Is money being saved for future goals?
Length of Stay: A goal for finding her own place should be discussed and agreed on. The date needn't be set in stone, and can be re-evaluated based on circumstances and the progress being made.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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