Raising the Orthodox Family: Be in the moment

We are pleased offer the next installment in Presbytera Roxanne Louh’s column on improving inter-family relationships. 

Take time to really stop and experience your family members with all your senses: listen with your ears, look at them with your eyes, and touch them with a gentle pat or stroke of their hair or back. Try to tune out everything else so you can just be in, and experience, the moment with your spouse or child. Try to monitor distraction and multitasking in the hustle and bustle of the world we live in today.

My kids still tell me, “Mom, ‘listen to me with your eyes’.” What does that mean? It means, it’s not enough to verbalize that I am listening. They want my FULL attention.

A recent study found that of the 186 hours that we have every week, the average family only spends about 7 hours together as a unit. The study qualified that of those 7 hours, most of that time together was spent on the TV or on the computer.

Here are a few ideas to improve quality time with your family:

  • Family dinnertime. Take walks after dinner or family bike rides.
  • Family prayer time, reading time
  • Cook with them, garden with them, let them help
  • Play their favorite sport with them, play board games.
  • Ask them open-ended questions about their day, that don’t just have to do with school and how they did on a test. Kids can tell when your primary interest is in their grades and not in them.

I had a patient the other day, in the 10th grade, who told me, “My mom sits with me at dinner, but she is on her phone the ENTIRE time. The only thing she asks me about is my grades, I can tell that her primary goal is getting me into college, but sometimes I just want to tell her about my soccer game.”

By following some, or all of these ideas, you will start to notice a difference in the way your family relates to one another, and you will surely grow closer.

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