Being Present for the Presents

This picture made me laugh.  This is a clever yet poignant statement about the way we often operate in our everyday family life.  This family isn’t putting on a fake front, even for the ubiquitous happy holidays happy family photo.  This picture made me think about being fully present in the moment.  It is true that we can be so preoccupied and distracted that we miss our own lives.  We can even miss the times that are supposed to be the happiest, most memorable times!  “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why
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Categories: Family, Holidays, and Transitions / Change.

In-Laws: A Vital Pillar of Support

In the “crazy-in-love” days of dating through the honeymoon period, most people don’t give much thought to the impact that their spouse’s parents can have on the marriage. The truth is though, with all other things being equal, in-laws can make or break a marriage.  More specifically, the husband or wife’s relationship with their in-laws and whether or not the in-laws support the marriage are very important factors in marital satisfaction and stability.  These truths have been supported in research by sociologists and marital experts. So in-laws have much more to offer than comedic relief in “Everybody Loves Raymond” or
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Categories: Marriage.

Successful Summer Traveling – The Road Trip

A road trip with school-age children requires planning and flexibility.  It requires realistic expectations.  It also requires good self-care for the parents, or you’ll feel like you need your own vacation after the family vacation.  To illustrate these points, let me tell you a story about my good friend Chadd. When Chadd was about fourteen, his family embarked on a trip to Florida from Indiana.  His mother, stepfather, and three younger siblings were ready to make the trip in their nice roomy conversion van.  The kids woke up early, waiting for the dad to return home from working the night
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Categories: Family.

The Gift of a Father’s Presence

Father’s Day is coming soon.  What kind of present have you picked out in celebration of Father’s Day?  In regards to common Father’s Day presents, Bill Cosby is quoted as saying “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”  I have not yet received soap-on-a-rope from my kids, but I’ll be happy when I do.  My happiness will come from knowing that my kids were thinking good thoughts about me when they picked out a gift or made me a picture. I don’t recall any particular present I gave my father on Father’s Day, and I guess that’s
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Categories: Parenting.

Traits of Healthy Families – Part 5

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us!  Hopefully this means you are excited and in the spirit rather than stressed out by this holiday season. It has worked out well that this last column on traits of healthy families will cover traits that show how important the holidays can be to your family wellness.  This is the last installment in a series on the 15 traits of healthy families identified by family expert Dolores Curran.  The three traits left to discuss are that healthy families have rituals and traditions, value service to others, and have a shared religious core.
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Categories: Family.

Traits of Healthy Families – Part 3

This is the third installment of a series exploring 15 traits of healthy families, identified by Dolores Curran as important to family success. This month’s column will look at traits six through eight, which state that healthy families; 6) are playful and have a sense of humor, 7) have a balance of interaction among family members, and 8) share leisure time.  These three traits discuss important ways in which healthy families share and participate in each other’s lives.  As I write these columns on the traits of healthy families, I am struck again with the truth of how important these
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Categories: Family.

Traits of Healthy Families – Part 1

The summer season is entering its final stretch now.  Families will be trying to squeeze a few more valuable vacations in before school starts.  Sometimes August feels like “the calm before the storm” because the new school year often hits like a strong wind that scatters the children and blows apart the parents’ schedules.  I want to encourage you to take what time is left this summer to shore up your family relationships and overall functioning.  Now is the best time to change and improve things in your family, before the frenetic pace of school begins.  Rather than worry about
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Categories: Family.

“Quality Time” in Just a Few Minutes

Almost every magazine article, television or radio program you see talks about how busy the American family is these days, yet how important “Quality Time” is to the family.  How the heck are you supposed to carve out quality time when there are so many demands on the family calendar?  Some days get so hectic you may wonder if you have even spoken to your spouse or children that day. So, how much time is needed for it to be “Quality Time?”  How about five minutes a day?  What about just four minutes? Yes, I’d say quality time can be
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Categories: Family.

Is Family Time Supposed to be Fun?

The topic for this month’s issue of Parent Magazine, family entertainment, got me thinking about the good times I’ve had with my family.  I also remember some times that were, well, a little more challenging!  Successfully creating entertaining activities for the whole family can be quite an undertaking.   If you are reading this, and you have participated in family activities, you can probably recall some great times and a few really, really bad experiences.  Have you ever tried to get the whole family to watch a movie together and end up watching it by yourself?  How about those times you
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Categories: Family.