Dear Doctor, 

We are a busy and involved family of four who sometimes don’t have time to spend together — even though we live in the same house. Activities, telephone, homework and so many other things come between us. I am sure other people experience this. Can you help?

Busy Mom

Dear Busy,

Your concern is on the minds of so many parents. Allow me to suggest some practical tips.

First, become a believer in the family dinner. Do not let anything interfere with it. During this time, focus on the positives: “You are feeling so good these days about ....” Try spreading humor and sharing funny stories. Stay away from questions such as, “how was school today.” Avoid the editorials and lectures. Make mealtimes something your children will enjoy and want to remember.

Second, express love through word and touch. It does not have to be dramatic. Children long to be appreciated, and words, along with a gentle squeeze or pat, can do the trick.

Third, stop with the distractions. Work on not answering the telephone or being on social media all the time. Pay attention to your kids and to each other.

Fourth, find some things you can program into your lives to allow you to be with each other. Board games are fun, whereas video games usually do not allow for as much interaction.

Finally, find the time to jot a note to your children. Make it simple: “Thank you for being you.” It may sound corny, but a note under the pillow can make a kids’ day.

You have made a great decision to want to be more engaged as a family, so carry on!

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lllrsn@comcast.net.

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