What do you remember of your own childhood?
Do you have treasured memories of family outings to the beach, visiting the wet market with Mum, or playing with Dad after he got home from work?
Research shows that a child’s earliest memories shape their sense of identity, and impact the way they form relationships and their ability to make good choices in life.
As parents, building positive family moments may be one of the best investments of your time in your children.
It may look like it requires a lot of time and effort to create fun memories, but the reality is actually simpler. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Building positive family moments may be one of the best investments of your time in your children.
1. Keep it simple
Parents often fall prey to the myth that the more expensive the event, the more their children will appreciate it. This is far from the truth.
Making memories with a child can be a simple yet meaningful affair. Research has shown that warmth and intimacy in the parent-child relationship are the key elements that lead to better outcomes in adulthood, such as higher self-esteem – you can be assured, it’s not the price tag on the activity that matters!
Consider budget-friendly ways of spending time together, such as taking a walk after dinner, watching a favourite TV show together, or weekend outings to a nearby park.
Research has shown that warmth and intimacy in the parent-child relationship are the key elements that lead to better outcomes in adulthood.
2. Make it a habit
Given the busy pace of life and packed schedules that most parents and their children face daily, finding time to spend together as a family can be a challenge. An effective solution is to intentionally set aside time to spend with your children.
Block out specific times on a daily and weekly basis in your calendar. Once a family activity becomes part of your regular schedule, it will become easier to follow through on your plan to spend quality time together. It is also a good idea to schedule one-on-one time with each child to really get to know your children.
3. Make opportunities to foster unity
Once you have a regular family-time routine, consider incorporating more challenging activities that take your spouse and children out of their comfort zone.
This can create opportunities to bond over new experiences and tackling challenging tasks together. You and your spouse could take turns to lead family discussions to choose what you will do.
Whether it’s volunteering for a cause you believe in, or attempting a physically challenging sport, the time spent will be instrumental in bringing all of you together as one.
If this has been a neglected area in your family life, there is no need to fret. As the wise Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Take the initiative to spend some time together with your children today, and gradually build your relationship. The time and effort invested now will pay off for generations to come, as your children are likely to also value strong relationships and work hard at building closeness in their own families in future.
© 2018 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Cox, M. (forthcoming). Parent-child relationships. In M. Bornstein, L. Davidson, C. Keyes, and K. Moore (Eds.), Well-being: positive development across the lifespan. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Fivush, R., Habermas, T., Waters, T., Zaman., W. (2011). The making of autobiographical memory: Intersections of culture, narratives and identity. International Journal of Psychology, 46 (5), 321-345.