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How To Bond With Your Family in 2 Easy Steps
Plus a bonus lesson. Sense of humor required.
Support and Accept
My twins are 26. They are independent, smart, respectful, loving kids. Gone are the days of Assembly Required. They are assembled and on their life journeys. Even so, I’m their ma and may still offer unsolicited advice. It annoys them. I know this because I can hear it in their voice. That said, I’ve improved a lot. For example: When they texted a video of themselves hiking on a narrow cliff path—that already happened and they were home safe—instead of saying, “What the f-k were you thinking?” I texted back, “Wow. Looks like fun.” All the while biting my lower lip.
Trust me, it gets easier.
Texting is a blessing because you have a moment to pause, cringe, cry or whatever you need to do before responding. Give yourself as long as you need. Five minutes or three days. I’ve done the latter. I’ve had to mediate, journal pray—do what works for you, before hitting that green arrow (for iPhone users).
I’ve even written reminders on post-its:
Your kids are wicked smart.
Mouth shut if they want to go sky diving. Your kids know best.
Your kids have common sense. They know how to be safe.
Your kids have fully formed frontal lobes.
At first, it was like exercising my calf muscles—which I’m still trying to fire up. Okay, maybe not calf. My core. Yeah. It’s like exercising your core. It might take a few planks before you can button those jeans from last year. Same goes for talking to your kids with genuine support and acceptance.
Once I started training myself to be supportive, accepting, and loving, after a couple of months, I was able to text back right away. I was even able to use this method on hubby.
“The kids and I want to go backpacking in the Appalachians.”
“Fantastic,” I responded after just reading about bear attacks.
Play a Board Game (not a bored game)
When your scrumptious young adult family (or friends) visits play a group game. Everyone is amusingly vulnerable when it’s a word game like, Blank Slate. The game comes with cue cards, erasable markers, and slates. You must complete the short phrase like a Rorschach test but with words. If your answer matches someone else’s you score points.
When we visited our kids last spring and my niece and her hubby joined us they brought the game with them. We were game for the game. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I cried. (And I don’t drink.)
Here are examples of the cue cards:
Sour Blank or Sour _______
(If two people wrote Sour Cherries they received points. If three people wrote Sour Face—no points, but they’d make a sour face.)
The last one was challenging. Everyone’s first thought was obvious. F—k. (As in F- You) But if we all wrote F—k, no one would get points. So, you must be clever yet not esoteric.
I think I wrote, “Hand you,” to which the room replied, “What the f-k is ‘hand’ you?”
“I ‘hand you’ a cup of coffee?”
When the next card was Blank Duty, my lawyer niece wrote Fiduciary. She didn’t get points and was at first stumped that no one else thought to write Fiduciary Duty.
Land Blank was another card. My daughter wrote, Land Ho. The eighteenth-century ship captain showed up for her answer.
To everyone’s surprise, the answer you think is obvious and a sure winner isn’t.
When I’m Blank was pulled my son wrote, Argumentative, which he isn’t but reveals the game’s ability to tap into your subconscious and offer a fun way to commiserate and bond over the frivolity of words and phrases we might choose under pressure. Think modern day Mad Libs.
Write a Memoir About your Kids
My talented author friend, Pam Lobley, wrote a memoir called, Why Can’t We Just Play? It’s about a summer of doing nothing with her then 7- and 10-year-old boys. She had the idea when a friend suggested they have a summer from the 1950s. No schedule allowed. (There’s a brilliant chapter about playing the game Life with her boys.) The summer was a bonding experience they never forgot—and of course they are always reminded since the book was published, and Pam is still doing speaking engagements. Check it out.
1. How do you bond with your kids?
2. If no kids- Friend? Furry baby? Goldfish? Your favorite plant?
3. What’s your favorite game?
4. I love your comments.