Tag Archive for extended family

It Takes a Village…Yeah, But How?

“It takes a village to raise a child.” I know that sounds overused and somewhat trite, but it really does take a village to raise a child. Don’t get me wrong, children desperately need their family. The healthier our families, the easier it is to raise our children. No doubt family has the primary place in raising children. Still, the connections our children have with those outside the nuclear family have a tremendous impact on them. When parents encourage their children to build healthy connections outside their immediate family, children benefit. Of course we don’t want our children to develop just any old connections; we want to guide them toward healthy connections. We do that by becoming involved in various aspects of the community as a family. Then, as children mature, they can take those involvements as their own. Here are four connections that can benefit our children.
     ·         Connections with extended family can have a positive influence on our children. Older cousins, aunts, and uncles can serve as role models. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles can reinforce various values. Grandparents, in particular, can play a special role in reinforcing values. Many times our children will hear values voiced by the extended family more easily than they hear the same values voiced by us.

·         Connections with community groups such as church, school, or sports. Coaches can help reinforce values and give our children another “ear” to help them solve various difficulties. Teachers can also serve to encourage our children and promote maturity. Church involvement has many benefits. In a church community, children can find adults who encourage and support, elderly who listen and give wisdom, and peers who want to live by similar values. Church also provide opportunities to engage in “responsible” behavior such as watching and teaching younger children, mission trips, camp opportunities, and volunteer opportunities. The church can provide all of this as well as teaching Christian values. Each of these connections can help our children grow more confident and mature. 

·         Connections with more than one circle of friends. This may take some guidance from you, but the benefit is great. Encourage your children to avoid a single clique and become involved with peers from several groups. This may mean becoming involved peers from several different groups at school or becoming involved with peers from church, scouting, school, and community.

·         Connections with other parents. Sometimes our children just need an adult other than their parent to talk to. They need an adult who understands children, but does not have the heavy emotional investment in our children that we do. From this “other parent” our children can get an objective, third party opinion. And, if we have laid the groundwork early in our children’s life, this “third party” will support similar values and ideas as we do.

Having these four connections outside of the nuclear family will help teens gain a sense of connection and belonging. Ironically, this sense of connection and belonging will help them grow more independent. It will also help them mature and grow with a desire to abide by the values of their community…which, by the way, is your community too!

5 Summer Picnic Ideas

I enjoy eating…well really, I love to eat. In the summer I love a picnic, combining my love of food with the outdoors. When I grew up, my family would often enjoy the “vacation picnic.” We would pack a picnic before vacation and, half way to our destination, stop for a picnic. Sometimes the sky was sunny…sometimes it rained. Either way, we stopped at a rest area, figured out which sandwich had ham on it and which had turkey, which had mayonnaise and which had ketchup or mustard. After matching the right sandwich with the right person, we enjoyed a meal together with good conversation and fun. It was always an interesting experience. There are other kinds of picnics that you can enjoy this summer. Here are just a few.
Invite another family to picnic with you. Ask a friend to bring a salad while you supply the burgers and hot dogs. Meet at the park and cook it up. If you have children, carve their names into the hot dogs before cooking them. Your children will love to show off their personalized hot dog before eating it. After you’re done eating, enjoy a game of Frisbee or catch. Or have the picnic by a lake and go for a swim.
Enjoy a neighborhood picnic, church picnic, or family reunion picnic. I love these picnics—lots of people and lots of food. This type of picnic is generally a “potluck” event–everyone attending brings a favorite dish to share. Someone cooks the burgers and hotdogs on sight and everyone enjoys sampling all the dishes that people have brought to share.
If you’d like an “out-of-the-box” creative type picnic, try a “progressive picnic.” A progressive picnic involves several families. Everyone goes to one family’s home for an appetizer. Then they all go a second family’s house for salad, a third for a main dish, perhaps a fourth and fifth home for a vegetable dish, and a sixth family’s home for dessert. You can involve as many families as you like, expanding on any part of the meal that you like. If the families live close enough, you can walk from house to house burning off a few calories before enjoying another dish.
Another creative picnic can involve foods from various cultures. For instance, start the meal with an appetizer like hummus or bean dip. For the salad enjoy a Mexican or Asian salad. For a main dish, cook up some fish, chicken curry, vegetable burritos, or pasta salad. This picnic becomes a family culinary adventure and a great chance to try some new things with your family and friends.
Whatever picnic you choose, enjoy the time it allows you to spend with your family.