Tag Archive for belonging

I’m a Daydream Believer. Are You?

It can happen anywhere. My mind wanders and I find myself in another world, a fantasy world. At times, my daydreaming got me into a little bit of trouble. Teachers often didn’t appreciate it. But now, thanks to a group of researchers, I’ve discovered how being a daydream believer can benefit my marriage. Perhaps it can help you and your marriage, too. Have you ever had times in which you and your spouse had to be apart? It may be as simple as having to spend the day at work. Or it might be more involved or lengthy, like a business trip, deployment, or living in different time zones due to work for a period of time. Could daydreaming help you maintain your connection?

In a study completed in 2015, 126 people were divided into three groups. One group was asked to daydream about a “another person  that you have a close, positive, relationship with like a friend, family member, or significant other.” A second group was to enjoy a daydream “just about yourself. It shouldn’t involve thinking about or interacting with anyone else.” And a third group was given a simple working-memory task (a control group). After being assigned to one of the three groups, each person took a quiz designed to elicit feelings of loneliness. Then, each group did their assigned daydreaming or working memory task. Following this, each person took several measures of feelings, desire to connect with others, and willingness to help another  person.

What were the results?

  • Social daydreamers (those who daydreamed about a loved one or friend) and non-social daydreamers (those who had a daydream that only included themselves) exhibited an increase in positive feelings. BUT, only social daydreamers exhibited an increase in positive social feelings. In other words, only social dreamers exhibited an increase in feelings of connection, love, and belonging!
  • Social daydreamers also exhibited a greater willingness than non-social daydreamers to help another person. In other words, their increase in positive social feelings went beyond mere feelings and led them to take different actions than non-social daydreamers. They “put their feelings where their actions were” and responded to requests for help.
  • Social daydreamers also expressed less desire to interact with others (strangers) in a future task. Their “need” for connection and belonging was satisfied through daydreaming about their significant other.

What does all this mean for you? Well, if you’re missing your spouse you don’t need to look for some connection at the bar or on-line chats or pornography. You don’t have to sit in your room feeling blue either. Instead, you might spend a little time daydreaming about past interactions and possible future interactions with your spouse. A little daydreaming and you’ll likely feel greater connection, love, and belonging. That’s why I’m a daydream believer.

PS—By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to a daydream if you’re missing your spouse. You might also give your spouse a call.

Dads, Daughters, & Loneliness

Did you know girls tend to report a decrease in loneliness between first and fifth grade? It’s true. They report less loneliness as they develop more peer relationships and become more comfortable with their social skills during the elementary school years. There is an important caveat to this trend toward less loneliness though; a subtle factor every father needs to know. Girls don’t all move toward less loneliness at the same rate or to the same degree. Guess what makes the difference in their move away from loneliness? Fathers! That’s right. Daughters who report close relationships with their fathers also report a greater decrease in loneliness over a shorter time period. In other words, a close father-daughter relationship helps your daughter overcome loneliness. Mother-daughter relationships didn’t impact loneliness…only father-daughter relationships! This was revealed in a study of 695 families in which mothers and fathers rated their relationship to their children in grades 1,3, 4, and 5. Children rated their levels of loneliness in grades 1, 3, and 5. The results affirmed the importance of father-daughter relationships in decreasing a daughter’s sense of loneliness. The message: Fathers, you are important to your daughter’s development.

And, if you’re like me, you hate to see your daughters looking lonely or complaining of loneliness. Now you know YOU can make a difference. Spend time with your daughters. Pay attention to your daughters’ crazy emotions. Talk with your daughters. By doing so you will help your daughter feel less lonely! Now that is an important role and a joyous task!

A Sense of Belonging “Phubbed” & the Power of Your Thumb

We all desire to have a sense of belonging, the feeling we have when we find unconditional acceptance in relationship to others. A sense of belonging is a crucial aspect in healthy relationships. It leads to greater happiness in family relationships. Children flourish when they grow up with a sense of belonging in their families. It is also foundational for healthy romantic relationships.  Marriages thrive when both spouses have a sense of belonging in their relationship. But, a Contender has arisen to rival our sense of belonging, especially within the family. This Contender challenges our efforts to build a sense of belonging among our family members. Amazingly, we have welcomed the Contender into our living rooms and our bedrooms. We have invited the Contender to our meals and our activities. In each area, the Contender seeks to spoil the sense of belonging between husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister. And, the Contender will defeat our sense of belonging unless we battle wisely. Let me introduce the Contender: YOUR cellphone. Research completed by Kent’s School of Psychology explored how “phubbing” (snubbing someone by ignoring them to respond to your cell phone) impacts relationships. They found that “phubbing” a person threatened their sense of belonging. They greater the “phubbing,” the greater the threat to one’s sense of belonging. (Read “Phubbing” Can Threaten Our Basic Human Needs, Research Shows for more.)

In other words, when you reach for your phone during time with your spouse, you threaten your spouse’s sense of belonging. Do this often enough and your spouse begins to question how much your value them or if you even accept them at all. Romance will dwindle. Marital happiness will drift.  Pick up your phone while engaging with your children and their sense of belonging gets called into question. “Am I more important than that call or text?” Your children may even begin to resent your relationship to your phone just as you might grow to resent their relationship to their phone.

I must admit…the Contender is strong. It exerts a mighty pull. It can hold great power over you. But, there is good news. Every one of your family members (including you) have a secret weapon to defeat the power of the Contender. It’s true. In fact, you have two secret weapons that the Contender cannot defeat. The secret weapon is YOUR thumb! You can silence your cell phone.  You can put it on “do not disturb.” You can even turn it off with the power of your thumb! When you do, the Contender’s power dwindles to off (literally and figuratively).  It cannot disturb your interactions. It cannot intrude upon our conversations. It will do nothing but sit silently…preferably in another room and out of sight. Even more, you are free to look your spouse in the eye and talk. You are free to engage your children with no distraction. You are free to celebrate your relationships and build a stronger sense of belonging!

Friendships in Middle School Begin at Home

Researchers from Penn State University followed 687 families for three years. Each family consisted of a mother, a father, and an adolescent child. The three year period spanned the adolescent’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years…the dreaded middle school years. (Read more here.) The study examined whether family relationships impact friendship during middle school. Of course, the short answer is “yes,” “you betcha,” “without a doubt.” But, the study did expose a couple of very interesting nuances to that “yes.”

First, a mother’s rejection, a father’s rejection, and the overall family climate not only predicted changes in the quality of the adolescent’s friendships but their sense of loneliness as well.

Second, feeling rejected by one’s father in 6th grade predicted social anxiety in 7th grade and social anxiety in 7th grade predicted loneliness in 8th grade. This was significant for rejection by one’s father but not so much in regards to one’s mother. It seems (in agreement with other research) that rejection by one’s father impacts how confidently a person moves into the world outside the home.

So, if you want your children to have the ability to develop and maintain high quality, positive friendships in middle school, nurture and strengthen your relationship with them. Their ability to form positive relationships outside the home begins at home…with you. Dads, this seems to be especially true for your relationship with your teen. Here are a few key ways to strengthen your relationship with your children.

  • Spend time together…lots of time together. Enjoy uninterrupted time with your children. Put aside the distractions (cell phones, papers, TV) and get to know your children. Learn what they like and who they like. Talk about classes, interests, strengths, and fears. Learn about their struggles in the community and which peers present them with the biggest challenges and why. Enjoy fun stuff and endure boring stuff…together. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn. And, you’ll be amazed at how cool your children really are.
  • Listen more than you lecture. The more you lecture, the less they’ll talk. The less they talk the less you will know them.  On the other hand, the more you listen, the more they’ll talk…and the more you’ll get to know them. Listen intently. Listen patiently. When they say something that arouses your urge to lecture, Don’t Do It! Instead, show empathy for their feelings around the topic. And, get curious about their thinking about the topic. Ask them questions out of a genuine curiosity to know them better. As you do, they will continue to talk…and you will get to know them better.  They will continue to talk…think…and learn. They’ll learn about the topic and you’ll learn more about them as they review their approach to the topic out loud.  All you have to do is listen and….
  • Problem-solving together. Our children will approach us with concerns and struggles when they know we will listen and empathize. As they recognize our efforts to understand their concern and their point of view, they will open up to discuss and problem solve with us. We will have created an environment of mutual respect that allows for cooperative problem solving. In the process, we will also deepen our relationship with our teen.

Practice these three actions and you can help prevent pervasive loneliness in your middle schooler. You will also increase your middle schooler’s confidence in making friends and the quality of their friendships.

Chores: The Gift of Significance

We underestimate children. By and large we expect too little of our children. We schedule every minute of their day to give them opportunities…and because we think they can’t learn as much on their own. We succumb to video games and TV shows because we think our children incapable of inventing their own activities. We fear they’ll get bored, under our feet, and on our nerves if we don’t turn on the X-Box. We jump in to tidy up their messes, fix their mistakes, and constantly remind them of their innate abilities because we fear their self-esteem will plummet from a momentary failure or less-than-perfect mark. In all actuality our children will learn more from mistakes than successes. They will create amazingly imaginative activities if we allow them to get bored. Yes, we underestimate our children. Unfortunately, discipline issues arise as a result. We underestimate their ability to complete household tasks. We expect they will not complete their homework. We assume they will get bored and nag. Our children simply live down to our expectations. Yes, we underestimate our children. But, there is a way out of this cycle. It takes some time and effort, but it yields huge benefits. “All you have to do” is let your children make a significant contribution to your household. Let me explain.

  1. Mother And Son Doing LaundryLet your children contribute to the household in ways that connect them to the family. Give them jobs that care for the family, not just themselves. For instance, let them help clean the family room, not just their own bedroom (although their bedroom is good to clean, too). Encourage them to help with everyone’s dishes and everyone’s laundry, not just their own. Then thank them for their contribution.
  2. Collaborate with your children in choosing the tasks they will complete. You don’t need to dictate every chore. Sit down, discuss, and divvy up the household tasks. Then you can talk about doing “our” work rather than “your” After all, everyone does their part. Let your language reflect that you and your child, not just your child, have chores that contribute to the household in a significant way.
  3. Make your children’s contribution part of the daily routine rather than something done on occasion. Give them the privilege of making a daily contribution to the family just like you do.
  4. Make the task one you can do together. For instance, gather the garbage from around the house together. Work in the yard together. Clean the family room together—one can vacuum while the other dusts. Fold clothes together. You get the idea. Work together on the household chores. And, talk while you work. Or, if you want to be like one of the seven dwarves from Snow White, whistle while you work.

Your children will gain many benefits when you allow them to work with you to make a significant contribution to your family. Check these benefits out.

  • Your children will gain an increased sense of purpose as they are part of something bigger than themselves. They become part of a family, not just an individual with a self-centered focus.
  • Your children will gain an increased sense of competence as they master various tasks. They will gain greater independence and confidence in their abilities.
  • Your children will gain an increased sense of intimacy. As you work with your children you can talk and laugh together. As you do, you will learn about their interests and values. You will learn about their dreams and fears. You will grow more intimate with them.
  • Your children will gain an increased sense of belonging. They will feel like an integral part of the family to which they contribute, the family that needs their contribution.
  • Your children will gain an increased sense of personal value and significance as they become an integral part of the family.

As an added bonus, you will have fewer discipline problems. Children and teens who have a healthy sense of purpose, belonging, and significance are better behaved. Children and teens with a sense of competence have nothing to prove. Children and teens with an intimate relationship with parents have less desire to rebel.

For more on children and chores, read Dear Children, The Real Reason I Make You Do Chores and Tips to End Chore Wars

What Piglet (& family) Needs to Know

I like Pooh…that sounds bad. Let me rephrase and start again.

I like Winnie the Pooh. He brings us a great deal of wisdom. For instance, consider the wisdom in this sketch and Piglet’s request to “be sure of you.” Very wise, especially when it comes to family. Sometimes we just need to know our loved ones are there.

poohPresent

Our spouses need to be sure of us. They need to know our ears are attuned to their whispered needs. They need assurance that we will respond to their subtle requests by turning toward them in love. They need to feel our touch reminding them of our presence and involvement in their lives, assuring them that we yearn to walk hand in hand with them through life.

 

Our children need to be sure of us. They want to be heard and acknowledged by us no matter how quiet and inept their voice might sound. They need to know we are available to them. They seek assurance that we delight in them and rejoice when they approach us. They long for us to take their hand and gently guide them through the dark woods.

 

Assure your spouse and children of your presence in their lives. Remind them of your desire to respond to even their subtle needs and desires. Constantly communicate your unending love and delight in them. All it takes is a smile, a hug, or a word of affection…but the joy and comfort it gives will last a lifetime.

Why I Love This Time of Year!

I love this time of year—the leaves are beautiful, the mornings are brisk, and the holidays are approaching. This time of year also brings another of my favorite past times…eating holiday food! Of course, the holidays are about much more than food. I love the holiday traditions—the family gatherings, the magic of giving, the joys of sharing. In today’s world of constant rush and activity, we have lost sight of many of these traditions and their benefits. Writing about this subject, William Doherty noted that “we reinvented family life in the twentieth century but never wrote a user’s manual.” Family has become disjointed and disconnected. But, this time of year can help us reconnect. In fact, in his family user’s manual, “Intentional Families,” Dr. Doherty explained how rituals and traditions hold our families together. Traditions make a family strong. The traditions we practice provide our family with an identity. They teach our children the family values. They pass on our religious and cultural heritage. The activities involved in our traditions tell the story of our family history. It is through celebrated traditions that we pass on the value of family support, establish an identity as a family that celebrates life, and create a culture of gratitude. We can add to this list…anything from the value of trusting God to the grace of giving to the joyous celebration of family competition in your favorite game. It all grows more secure and remains strong through the generations as we practice our family traditions.

 

Our traditions also provide our children with a sense of security and comfort. Traditions are predictable. They happen on a regular basis and occur in similar ways each time we celebrate. The predictability of traditions informs our children that no matter how the world changes…no matter if our family struggles…no matter the changing stages of life, we still celebrate our traditions together. We remain a family, connected through our intentional celebration of tradition. As these traditions are celebrated over time, generations come together. We celebrate our traditions with parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We celebrate across the generations. And, generational involvement is associated with fewer emotional and behavioral problems in children…once again, a benefit for traditions.

 

One of the benefits I associate with traditions involves the creation of lasting memories. If you are like me, some of your favorite memories probably revolve around traditions…whether it be the Monopoly game at Christmas time or the laughter erupting from a joke at Thanksgiving. I love to remember time with my family—laughing, playing, talking, cooking, reading out loud, eating, and so much more! Those joyous, lasting memories contribute to a lifetime of happiness.

 

Yes, I love this time of year as family traditions take center stage and we celebrate our lives together. I hope you take the time to celebrate together, establish strong traditions, and begin a lifetime of happy memories!

A Reminder of What It’s All About

I often have to remind myself about the priorities in my life, the goals I want to accomplish, and the reasons I do what I do. A “time of reminding” has come for me at Honor Grace Celebrate. One of the best ways for me to recall my goals and direction is through writing. So, I want to use this blog to remind myself about what it means to practice honor, grace, and celebration in the family; and, why I write blogs for Honor Grace Celebrate. Hopefully, as I write this reminder we will all be reminded to practice honor, grace, and celebration in our family…after all, I truly believe that when families practice honor, grace, and celebration they find greater family intimacy and joy.  I also believe God designed the family to be a place of honor, grace, and celebration. So what does honor, grace, and celebration have to do with family?

 

Healthy families honor one another. Honor builds a safe haven where family members can find value and esteem; a place where each person is highly valued, like diamonds above coal.  In a family of honor, each family member honors one another with words and actions that communicate value and respect. Family members seek to learn about the ones they value—learning about their interests, vulnerabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. And, each person keeps that knowledge in mind when interacting with one another. Healthy families seek out ways to honor one another by accepting differences, engaging in acts of kindness, and showing politeness at all times. Yes, healthy families honor one another.

 

Healthy families share grace with one another. They become a reliable sanctuary, a secure base, where each person knows grace and feels safe. A person living in a family of grace will receive unconditional acceptance and extravagant generosity…with no strings attached. Family members will share the gift of themselves by generously giving of their time and attention in order to connect intimately with one another. In a gracious family, family members willingly sacrifice their individual wants and desires to enhance the well-being of other family members and to build intimacy and joy in the family. Yes, healthy families share grace.

 

Healthy families celebrate! A family built on honor and grace opens the door to celebrate, laugh, and play. In a family where everyone experiences acceptance and love, each family member can “let their hair down and completely reveal themselves.” In a family of honor and grace, family members can know one another intimately and rejoice in that intimacy. Yes, healthy families celebrate with a gusto known only in communities filled with honor and grace!

 

At its best, family truly is a celebrating community of honor and grace. Our goal at Honor Grace Celebrate is to give families the tools to build that community of honor and grace…to gain the knowledge that can help make their families a celebrating community of honor and grace. For practical ideas on making your family a celebrating community of honor and grace, you might enjoy our book Family By God’s Design. And, if you know someone who might benefit from this type of information, please pass it on so they can follow us on FaceBook or Twitter. Thank you. And may your family become a celebrating community overflowing with honor and grace!

The Special Ingredient of Intimate Families

I was talking with a young man (middle school age) about what he liked and didn’t like about his family. Interestingly, he liked the family dinners they used to have and he disliked that they no longer had those family dinners. Even as a middle school boy, he missed family dinners. Family dinners provided him the time he desired to reconnect with his family…to slow down, talk, and connect with his whole family. I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised to hear a middle-school-aged child talking about missing family dinners because of the family connection he desired. Nonetheless, he made an excellent observation. Family dinners provide a great time to reconnect and bond with our families. They are a time to relax, tell stories, and talk about our daily lives, laugh, and even make some future plans. Research also indicates that having regular family meals help to reduce the rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression in adolescents. Families that enjoy regular family meals see their children attain higher grade-point averages than children whose families do not have regular family meals. Studies also suggest that “dinner conversation” boosts vocabulary more than reading does! The stories of personal victories, perseverance, fun moments, and family times help build a child’s resilience and confidence. As you can see, family meals offer a smorgasbord of benefits for families and their children. So, if you want your family to grow more intimate…if you want your children to grow up happy…if you want your children to grow up physically and emotionally healthy…if you want your children to have a higher grade-point average, set aside the time to enjoy regular family meals.  Here are a few tips to help you plan your family meal time: 

       ·         Include your whole family in the meal process. The family meal process includes making the menu, preparing the meal, setting the table, and cleaning up afterwards. Include the whole family in these activities. Make the menu together. One day a week, allow a different family member to pick their favorite food items for a meal. Encourage the whole family to help clear the table, load the dishwasher, wash the dishes…and make it fun with conversation and laughter. Come up with your own creative ways to include the whole family in the family meal process.


·        
Enjoy conversation during the meal. Save topics that you know lead to arguments for another time and focus on conversation that will build relationships. You can talk about the day’s activities, each person’s dreams, memories of fun family times, and things you’d like to do in the future. Really, the topics available for conversation are limited only by our imagination. If you have trouble thinking of topics, check out these conversation starters from The Dinner Project.


·        
Make dinner a surprise now and again. I just ate breakfast with a friend today…he ordered a double burger for breakfast and I ordered an omelet. We both enjoyed our meal and his burger was a great meal conversation starter. Your family might enjoy dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner. Plan one “ethnic meal night” per week and travel the globe with culinary surprises. Eat your meal backwards, starting with dessert.  Plan an “Iron Chef” night and let each family members cook one dish…the family can vote on best taste, presentation, and creativity after the meal. You get the idea. Do something different now and again. Make it a surprise…and have fun.


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Turn off TV’s, video games, phones, and any other technology that has the potential to interfere with the moment’s face-to-face interaction and family interaction. Learn to enjoy each other in the moment with no interruption.


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A great resource to get your family started with family meals is The Family Dinner Project. You can sign up for their “4 Weeks to Better Family Dinners” for free helps. They also provide ideas for recipes, conversation starters, meal activities, addressing various challenges, and meal preparation. This is a wonderful resource to bookmark and use on a regular basis. 

I love the family meal plan to better family bonding, enhanced educational attainment, and better emotional health. It combines two of my favorite ingredients in life–eating and family–in attaining several of the goals I desire for my family and children. With that kind of recipe, why not give a try?!

12 More National Holidays to Celebrate Family

I thought I might share a few more “National Holidays” your family might enjoy celebrating (click here and here for some other holidays to celebrate). This time I did not include any food holidays, although food compliments any celebration in my mind. These holidays are all relational and fun holidays. A couple of them even offer some great perks if you watch for them. So, find the appropriate month and let the family celebrations begin!

 

January 24–National Compliment Day. Make some major deposits in your Family Bank of Honor on this day with a few well-spoken compliments. You may even want to start a Pandemonium of Honor this month and practice throughout the year!


January 31–National Backward Day.
Do everything backwards. Have supper for breakfast and breakfast for supper. Eat your meal starting with dessert. Put on your clothes backwards and go out to eat. Walk into the restaurant backwards. You get the idea. Have fun.


February 17–National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Another wonderful opportunity to honor your family with a random act of kindness. Be creative and have fun.


March 22–National Goof Off Day.
My kids think I celebrate this day every day.  That’s OK. The point is to have some fun. So, go ahead and goof off together.


April 27–National Tell a Story Day.
I love to tell stories. Tell stories about your dating days, early childhood days, your favorite family vacations. You can make up stories. My kids still remember the stories we made up when they were preschoolers. Read a story together. Whatever you choose, just tell some stories that bring your family together. 


June 22–National Listen to a Child Day.
Listen to your child…they will love your for it.


July 13–Embrace Your Geekness Day.
All you Big Bang enthusiasts rejoice. Today is your day!


August 4–International Forgiveness Day.
Forgiveness will change your life and your family life. If you have trouble figuring out how to forgive, read 5 Steps for Forgiving Family.


September 19–Talk Like a Pirate Day.
A day of family celebration. Every family member can talk like a pirate and you can watch Pirates of the Caribbean. Invite some friends over and make it a multi-family event! Go to Long John Silver’s and order with your best pirate accent. Dress up like a pirate and you might get free donuts at Krispy Kreme.


October 12–National Family Bowling Day.
You don’t have to be good, just have fun. See who can get the worst score. Bowl behind your back. Plan to knock down as few pins as possible. Put up the bumpers. Whatever it takes, have a fun family outing while you bowl.


November 11-Origami Day.
Enjoy time making origami today. Here’s some help if you want some. 


December 8–Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.
Dress up like you live in Wild West, renaissance England, ancient Rome, Israel at the time of Christ, or your community in the midst of dinosaurs. Whatever time era you think your family might enjoy, travel to that time in dress, food, and amenities. Have fun!

 

Alright now, get out there…Have Fun and Celebrate Family!

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