Jason shared an alarming number the other day- 38.5. That is the average number of minutes parents spend in conversation with their children each week. Yikes. December 5th is “Communicate With Your Kids Day!” Just the fact that “they” had to make a day encouraging people to do this says a lot. I was inspired to explore this subject a step further.
If the number 38.5 seems low to you, consider this example of a typical day in the life of a busy family, offered by Frank Coetzee,
“Ok, get up, get dressed, grab some breakfast, brush your hair, the bus is coming, have a nice day, love you, bye.” The note read, “Hi honey how was your day? I have to work until 4:30 today, I’ll be home soon. Grab a snack and get started on your homework. I’ll take you to basketball practice when I get there. Remember, no TV until your homework is done.”
“Hi squirt, I’m home. Grab your gym bag, we’re running late. Ok, I’m just going to drop you off here. Your father will pick you up when you’re done, then it’s a quick bite to eat, a shower and straight to bed. You have another busy day tomorrow.”
Does that sound familiar? As Jason shared in his blog, it’s not a mystery to see what we’re choosing to spend our time on- work, extra curricular activities, tv, homework, video games, the Internet.
According to Business Week online from June 2005, the average person spends 1.1 hours a day checking email.
The 2005 results from the American Time Use Survey reported that the average adult watched 2.6 hours of TV per day. Socializing (in general, not just within the family) accounted for only 45 minutes of the average adult’s day.
Just by using our common sense, we know that it’s important to eat dinner together as a family. Logically, statistics are showing that this 15-20 minutes a day spent as a family will lower drug use, raise grades and prevent misbehavior. In Jason’s speaking programs for families he stresses the importance of family dinners because it’s such a lost art these days, amidst our busy lifestyles. When I was growing up we had dinner together every single night. No question. We would talk about our days, laugh, and reconnect. It was a very predictable and safe part of my day. It’s obvious that kids need that, but adults do too.
I found an interesting article that was originally published in the early 1900’s, called Family Conversation.
“The family should be the most closely knit group to which you belong, and the conversation at home, especially if it includes persons of varied ages and interests, should be interesting and stimulating to every member of the family.
Newton D. Baker is credited with saying that the dinner table conversations at home have a great deal to do with the way the next generation will think and act. If you are a parent, ask yourself seriously whether you have set a standard of family conversation that inspires and stimulates every member of your family group.”
If we are only spending 38.5 minutes of time conversing each other out of the 10,080 minutes we have in each week, then are we really choosing to make our families the “most closely knit group” in our lives? Are we finding our family conversations to be “interesting and stimulating?” Probably not, or else we would be making more time for them.
What do we do about this?
Sometimes we need a jumpstart. There are some great tools out there to help with conversations and family communication. I’m excited and proud to share that we recently added a category of products to our online store, The Lemonade Stand, called, Top 10 Gifts to Give Stressed-Out Families. You wouldn’t happen to know any stressed-out families, would you?
These are things that will get conversations going, fun alternatives to the electronic box, project ideas, and opportunities to make some memories together.
When I was teaching we would often talk about kids who are “at-risk.” That’s quite the buzz word in schools. The fact is this…todays families are at-risk. We need to reclaim our place in society as the most solid, “most closely knit group.” Let’s face it, I think our local Chamber of Commerce groups are beating the average family, in terms of amount of time communicating and working together as a unit. Jason and I are dedicated to this cause and I know we are not alone.
This week try to take back your family dinner table, take back your conversations and truly enjoy the family you’ve been blessed with. If your kids have left the nest, then try to encourage a stressed-out family you know to do some of these important things.
[tags]stress, stressed-out, families, dinner, Frank Coetzee, Newton D. Baker, The Lemonade Stand, family gifts, communication[/tags]