My wife, Kat, and I stared at each other in disbelief as our oldest daughter, Krista, told us she was moving to Julia’s house across the street because her mummy and daddy were nicer. We weren’t sure if we should laugh or cry — after all, Krista was only six. My wife called Julia’s mother to tell her what was going on and that Krista was on her way over.
A few hours later, Julia’s mum reminded Krista it was Monday night and that our family always went for frozen yogurt after dinner. It was a tradition my three girls looked forward to. To our delight, Krista called and asked if she could go. It was a joyous reunion!
The weekly yogurt run was part of our family identity — part of what made us who we were. Even the neighbors knew our routine and sometimes shouted take away orders as we left the house. Our three daughters are now grown, but when our family gets together, we still make trips for frozen yoghurt. It’s one of those simple traditions that have kept our family bonds strong.
Not surprisingly, a strong family identity also helps children develop a strong and healthy self-identity. Studies even show that kids who identify with their family’s values tend to be less promiscuous and face less risk of drug and alcohol abuse.
How can you build a strong family identity?
Your Presence Matters
Children regard your presence as a sign of care and connectedness. Families who eat meals together, play together and build traditions together thrive. Does your family eat together at least four times a week? If so, there is a greater chance your kids will perform better in school and be less likely to exhibit negative behavior.
Although it may seem trite, a family that plays together stays together. One family I know has a table tennis tournament each week. The winner doesn’t have to do the dishes for a day. Our family had a “Fun Day” once a month. One of the girls picked an activity, and the rest of the family participated.
Don’t miss a single chance to celebrate your family. You can celebrate rites of passage and other events such as sporting victories and graduations — from any age. On birthdays, we play a game called “Affirmation Bombardment”, in which each family member shares three words of encouragement for the birthday person.
At some point, storms will come to every family. But when you proactively build a strong family identity, your family can withstand whatever winds and rains come your way.
This article is published with permission from Focus on the Family Malaysia. For more information, please call +603-7954 7920, email email@example.com or surf to www.family.org.my, follow Facebook [focusonthefamilymalaysia]and Twitter [familiesMY]. You can also write to Focus on the Family Malaysia, 6-2 Jalan Bersatu, 13/4, 46200 Petaling Jaya.
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