At the beginning of each year, many of us reflect on the past 12 months and commit to be better as we make our New Year’s Resolutions. Losing weight, getting out of debt and learning something new are always among the top ten New Year’s Resolutions but there is one that may surprise you.
Recent polls show that more than 50 percent of American’s promise to spend more time with family and loved one’s as their New Year’s Resolution. Life is busy for all of us, especially for parents of growing families.
I would like to offer my top 3 resolutions to spend more time as a family in 2012.
1 – Eat dinner together as a family.
The traditional family dinner has drastically changed over the past few decades as families cram in more activities and are constantly on the go. However, studies show that eating together at the dinner table can have lasting positive effects on kids, particularly teens. The more often the family eats together, the less likely teens are to do drugs, to be depressed and the more likely they are to do well academically at school.
This research is part of the basis of Strengthening Families, a new parenting and teen class offered at Salt Lake County Youth Services. In the class, parents and teens eat together as a family, modeling behavior in the class they then take home and practice. Parents and teens also learn communication skills to create a healthier home environment.
2 – Take time to TALK.
Building relationships within the family takes time. Improving the family bond includes getting to know one another better and helping each person to feel valued and important.
Youth Services uses a simple acronym to help in this process: Let’s TALK.
- Take time to talk
- Ask questions, get answers
- Listen and learn
- Keep working together
Look for one on one time to spend with your family and loved ones. It doesn’t happen overnight but even the smallest efforts make a difference over time.
3 – Ask for help.
There is no parenting handbook or relationship guide that answers every question. The good news is you don’t have to figure it out on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask your own parents or someone you look up to for help. Let them know your goals and how they can help you achieve them.
There are also times when you may want to seek a professional, licensed therapist if you or a family member is struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, stress or post traumatic stress syndrome. Youth Services offers free, short term counseling for any youth and their families in Salt Lake County. They also offer long-term mental health therapy for families who qualify for Medicaid.
May this year’s resolution to spend more time with family and loved ones last not only this year but become a lifelong quest.
For more information about Youth Services programs, go to their web site at www.youth.slco.org or call their 24-hour hotline at 385.468.4500.
Note: This article was orginally written and published in the Mayor’s Column for the Valley Journals.