How Fast Families Can Move from Chaos to Closeness
- Monday, January 16, 2006
Most of us don't need a list of impressive research statistics to tell us that today's families feel rushed. Chances are, you're already living this reality. The modern family moves from one activity and obligation to the next, while mom, dad, and kids can barely find time to breathe, much less connect in any meaningful way. But, perhaps you are the exception to the rule. Perhaps your family thrives off a full schedule, yet lately you've noticed one of your loved ones seems disconnected and irritable.
Whether you love a fast pace or are desperate to get off the treadmill, parents know that connecting with our kids is key to giving them a healthy childhood. Author and Coach Timothy Smith's recent book Connecting with Your Kids: How Fast Families Can Move from Chaos to Closeness (Bethany House) offers solutions that can be tailored to a family's unique situation. Read on as Tim discusses ways families can discern their natural paces, while helping them -- even the fast ones -- connect in meaningful ways.
Q: Why did you write a book on connecting with your kids? Is that possible with today’s busy families?
A: Yes, I believe it’s possible to live full, meaningful lives and still make time to connect with each other. I’ve studied fast-paced families who have discovered a way to connect, even with their full schedules. I like what John Trent says in the Foreword, "This book gives us extra-busy types great, on-target insights that don’t make a person feel worthless for living a busy life."
Q: You say that 7 out of 10 parents are feeling hurried and hectic. What was the source of your information?
A: As a Gallup Research Fellow, I was able to design questions to poll Americans across the country about their pace of life and its impact on their family and relationships. We found that most parents with school-aged kids were feeling too rushed to connect with their kids, let alone their mate, friends, and neighbors. Most parents feel like life is a blur.
Q: Why are we in such a rush?
A: In the research, we discovered that there are seven reasons why we rush (1.) Our culture cherishes a fast tempo. (2.) Commerce compensates quickness. (3.) Media and technology promote speed. (4.) Our families fuel it. (5.) Our selfishness demands it. (6.) Debt drives it. And the seventh may be the most influential, we are running from something – avoidance promotes purposeless pursuits.
Q: You talk about "over-scheduled and under-connected" kids. What is the impact on them?
A: Recent medical and psychological studies report that over-scheduling can damage our health and our marriages and compel our children into depression and risky behaviors involving drugs, alcohol and sex. Other related indicators of stress include compulsive behavior, sleep disturbance, a drop in grades, withdrawal, tantrums, hostility, and acts of violence. Some kids have been scheduled so much that they don’t know how to entertain themselves and play and relax on their own. I call it the death of free play.
Q: You’ve coined the term, "Heartprints." What do you mean by that and how does that help a parent connect with her child?
A: The wise proverb cautions us to "guard the heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Each of us has a pace that we are comfortable with. For example, I like to walk fast; my wife likes to walk slowly. I don’t fully understand this, but we seldom marry someone who likes to walk or live at the same pace. Maybe opposites attract?
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