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How to Navigate Family Issues in the Age of Convenience

As they say, blood is thicker than water, yet in an age where family activities are hostage to busier work schedules, individual obligations, and cheap communication via technological expediency, the art of tackling family issues has become far more challenging than ever.

Work and no play makes family activities a fading commodity in some households, as the growing number of dual-working parents means families actually spending quality time together becomes less common by the year. Compounding the problems with family communication is trying to balance working parents with busy school and extra-curricular activities, often spending less time together as a family, and only where time allows. The final nail in the proverbial coffin lies in the ease of communicating via text messaging, email and the treasure trove of electronic interaction that has largely replaced face-to-face communication.

So how do families grow together rather than grow apart? The first step involves the parents communicating and working together to schedule time for family activities, setting a precedent for the children that spending time together is a priority. The second step requires sitting down as a family and talking through family issues, allowing the children to give feedback and feel engaged in the process. The third step requires finding activities that everyone agrees on, and making a point to leave the cell phones and distractions behind.

But none of these steps mean much if the parents don’t set the example first. Make it clear to your family that Mom and Dad spending time together is an absolute priority, and not an “option” up for discussion. As parents, your children will look to you to set parameters, but they will also look for signs that you believe their interests and priorities are important. Family activities should take each family member’s input into consideration, rather than forcing the issue, which can only lead to resentment and further complications.

Sadly, the world we live in allots very little time for families to interact in a healthy and engaging manner. You have to make time to loosen the chains of responsibility, and you have to be willing to listen and compromise. Healthy family communication starts and ends with you, the parents, but it absolutely does not require you to row the boat alone. As always, reaching out to an unbiased and professional third party to help you bridge chasms between family members is a good option if family issues break communication down to a level where you can no longer engage your family in a healthy manner.

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