Children sustain the influences of their parents. This includes core values, societal outlook, religious preference, political positions, financial management, alcoholism/drug use, hereditary illnesses, etc. Core values can be anything from patriotism to respect, as well as the notions listed above. Another parental influence is the importance of family. How someone is brought up affects the way they raise their children.
Some extended families aren’t close. Why is this? Several reasons include:
- Valuing other things over family time
- Lack of communication
- Living far away from each other
- Traumatic death or argument, resulting in longterm separation
- Simply having little to no family
If a child only sees their extended family during certain holidays, they will grow up understanding this as normal. By middle school age, preteens are old enough to notice that their parents are disinterested in seeing relatives. They might not think much of it, but by high school, they will be blowing off Grandpa’s birthday party to hang out with their friends.
On the contrary, adolescence is the age of hanging out with peers more than family. This is typical, yet there is nothing wrong with favoring both. When teenagers are raised without the company of extended family, they don’t think it is a big deal missing an event. Teens are prone to making bad decisions and being argumentive with authority. They will fight with their parents, asking why this family gathering is more important than the dozens of ones their parents opted-out of when they were younger.
Instead of valuing family, they will grow up resenting it. They’ll be that childish adolescent rolling their eyes Christmas afternoon, waiting to go home. Family won’t be listed among their Thanksgiving gratitude list, and they’ll find a significant other who also doesn’t value family. Long story short, their children will not be close with their own family, and the cycle continues.
Michael Rubino, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and Marriage and Family Therapist, explains that grandparents, aunts, and uncles can “serve as additional role models and inform parents if something seemed off with the child. The other thing that the close connection to generations was a sense of security.” Rubino published his beliefs on Patch.com, adding that older cousins and siblings can provide advice on schoolwork, bullies, and growing up. Families also pass down sentimental traditions and help children learn to communicate with people of various age groups.
Other families are drowned in divorce, so children don’t trust the idea of marriage. If they do wed, they commonly end down the same path as their parents. This may be because they don’t know any better, they believe it is easier to give up right away, or they lack compromising skills. For this reason alone, about half of marriages in the United States end in divorce. For children of divorcees who are not close to their extended families, they may miss out on the opportunity to witness a long-term romance.
Then there is the problem of not spending enough time with members of the same household. Parents are too busy working to be with their children, siblings hide in their bedrooms on their devices, or families don’t commit to any bonding activities. For households who ignore all or most of these activities for an extended period of time, family members are more likely to move far away and only see each other when necessary.
Parenting NI Ltd, a nonprofit organization that provides free support for parents across Northern Ireland, expresses the importance of family bonding with the following statements:
“Families who share everyday activities together form strong, emotional ties. Studies have found that families who enjoy group activities together share a stronger emotional bond as well as an ability to adapt well to situations as a family.”
“According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana. Children who frequently eat with their families also usually have improved dietary intake compared to those who don’t eat as often with family members.”
“When you spend time with your children you are fostering an environment for open communication. Good communication is important for your children to feel comfortable with talking to you about anything.”
Spending just twenty minutes a few nights a week eating dinner together can make all the difference. Although my siblings and I are all in our twenties, my family eats dinner together almost every night. We also talk about our lives and concerns, watch TV, enjoy movie nights, and play board games. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a home with people who enjoy each other’s presence, and it is disheartening that not everyone has this privilege.
Family bonding has its fair share of benefits, but there are some difficulties when it doesn’t exist. Those who do not spend time with their parents, siblings, children, or other family members have less trust, communication, loyalty, humor, and reliability with one another.
John P., one of the main writers at The Confidence, explains some negative effects of not spending quality time with family. In his article, he writes:
“Your children might see other parents playing with their kids and think that you don’t love them. These feelings can also depend on your children’s age. If your child is under 9, they might feel guilty and sad, believing they’ve done something wrong as their parents don’t want to spend time with them. If your child is older, they might start thinking that you just don’t care about their feelings and emotions.”
“When a child doesn’t feel a parent’s support, they start believing they’re alone in this world and no one cares about their problems. When such a child grows up, they become either depressive or aggressive.”
“You can invite your kids and spouse to the kitchen and cook a meal together or you can cook while listening and talking to them. Try to eat together at least once per day, be it dinner or breakfast. When cleaning the house or going grocery shopping, you can involve your little ones as well. Such small changes in your family will make a major positive impact on your family.”
Luckily the great quarantine of 2020 has forced millions of households bond, but not extended families. Celebrations have been postponed, canceled, or reduced, as large parties were prohibited for several months. This forced aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, nieces, and nephews to find new methods of communication. Though it is harder, they have kept in touch with FaceTime, phone calls, and social media.
Yet the lockdown has forced households to spend more time together. Parents learned to work from home for several months, and many children are still being homeschooled. With less time driving from place to place, families have been glued together behind the walls of their homes. People have cherished this period with their loved ones, even when the world was falling apart.