We want our children to become independent adults. The problem is that sometimes they become too independent, not just from you but also from their siblings. The lives of adult children can be quite hectic with demanding jobs and raising children, making it difficult to spend time with you and their siblings.
As a result, some families drift apart, only coming together at weddings and funerals.
Fathers can play a role in building or keeping family relationships close, even when busy lives and/or distance keep family members apart.
Family get-togethers are one way to keep or build family closeness. However, they are most effective when there are planned activities rather than just spending time together. Consider allowing your children to plan events or get-togethers, rather than you doing all the work.
For example, our children are arranging for family members to run in a half-marathon in Nashville next month. Those who are smart enough to pass will be cheering on those of us who are foolishly running.
All too often, parents are the only “glue” that holds families together between family get-togethers. All family communication and family business go through them. Instead of telling each child what their siblings are up to, insist they find out for themselves.
Sometimes a lack of time or a great distance are not the only reasons families aren’t close. Although difficult, find ways to resolve rather than avoid long-standing conflict. Honest and open discussion, as well as forgiveness, can be important steps toward strengthening family ties, but recognize that dealing with issues that are deeply rooted may need the help of a family counselor.
The local fathering effort, in cooperation with the National Center for Fathering, provides biweekly Action Ideas to stimulate conversation between fathers and parents. For more information, or to join local conversations, contact David Eggebeen at email@example.com, Robert Orndorff at firstname.lastname@example.org Mick Trombley at email@example.com, Chris Dufour at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marc McCann at email@example.com. See the Centre County Fathering website for resources and information at www.centrefathering.org.