As working men and women, there is one thing that we have unfortunately left largely in the dust and practically forgotten about these days, and that is the importance of spending time with family.
Today, our goal is to help wake people up to the reality that it isn’t just all about work and “providing for them” with money so that they can see why family is important in other ways, as well.
The High Importance of Spending Time with Family
‘You only live once’ – A saying that swept the nation a couple of years ago and it was a term used to describe the process of acting because life’s too short and we only get one shot at it. Although it became overused in the end and the trend has died down a little, the premise remains today and it will always apply to our lives because life really is short and we do ‘only live once’.
According to a 2012 study in the UK, over 66% of people with older children had the same ‘biggest regret’; not spending enough time with their family while their children were young. Following the same lines, they also noted a regret for spending too much time at work and then feeling too tired to do anything of note with their family when they got home.
Furthermore, nearly 60% of parents with two or more children said they had a completely different approach with the second child than the first. Just to reel off some of the other telling statistics, 70% felt they had taken their children’s childhood for granted, over 25% gave advice to friends so they didn’t have the same regrets, and over half wished they had more quality time with their children when they were younger.
Firstly, we apologize for throwing several statistics your way straight off the bat but we believe these are, more than anything, sobering facts. Despite this survey taking place in 2012, the idea of parents working too much when their child is little isn’t a new one. In years gone by, when the ‘norm’ for society was to see the mother stay at home while the father earned the money, men regretted having to work and miss out on the childhood of their youngsters. Today, society has changed and more mothers are going out to work alongside their partners as well as the growth of stay-at-home fathers. Through all this change, the same regrets remain.
|You only live once. As mentioned previously, the ‘YOLO’ trend has now come to an end and there’s no reason why the trend of regret for parents can’t do the same. In terms of our careers, we’ve made huge leaps within the last two decades especially. If we look to our parents and grandparents, their sole focus was providing for their family and finding the highest-paid job whether this came from working in the mines or in the factories.|
You only live once. As mentioned previously, the ‘YOLO’ trend has now come to an end and there’s no reason why the trend of regret for parents can’t do the same. In terms of our careers, we’ve made huge leaps within the last two decades especially. If we look to our parents and grandparents, their sole focus was providing for their family and finding the highest-paid job whether this came from working in the mines or in the factories. Nowadays, our happiness is probably the biggest consideration and this shows clear progress. As well as wanting to feel valued in our jobs and as though career progression is possible, we also want a more appropriate work/life balance and this is something we’re extremely pleased to see.
Why? Because the importance of family relationships cannot be denied. In fact, it’s more than just ‘important’ and we’ve compiled a list of reasons below to explain why!
1. It Strengthens the Family
When people ask why family is important, the first reason we normally give is the improvement you’ll see in the bonds between yourself and your partner, yourself and your children, and the children themselves. Although we’ve focused extensively on parents who regret not spending time with their children, there are also adults that have lost contact with their siblings and parents have a very important role in this.
Of course, we aren’t saying you need to go on vacation every two months. Instead, ‘spending time with loved ones’ could be simple activities like going to the cinema, visiting a sporting event, going swimming, walking the dog, and going out for dinner every so often. Even after this, it could be ensuring you all sit around the dinner table every evening, reading a book to your children before bed, watching TV, playing board games, and just spending time around them. Ultimately, there doesn’t need to be a purpose and this is the beauty of our familial relationships. Even when no words are being said, the relationships are always building and each member knows they can rely on their siblings, parents, and children when the tough times come.
The more time you spend with someone, the more you trust them and this is the same for family members. Compared to your friends and colleagues, there are unspoken loyalties that come with families but this doesn’t mean you don’t need to work on the relationship. When all is said and done, you’re still a group of humans who need to connect on some level because the ‘familial ties’ will only take you so far.
2. It Encourages Positive Behaviors
In the early years of a child’s life, you and your partner will be their role model because you spend the most time around them. According to Arizona State University, who worked on a study with the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teens are twice as likely to use alcohol and tobacco when they have infrequent family dinners. Furthermore, for marijuana, the rate is one and a half times compared to someone who has regular family dinners.
When looking at the importance of family relationships, it runs so much deeper than right now because it has a huge impact on the future too. If parents don’t show enough attention to their children as they grow up, the children start to look for other ways to gain attention. If they do well at school and this isn’t recognized, they feel demotivated because ‘what’s the point?’. For children, the ultimate aim is to make parents proud and this comes on a subconscious level.
If you aren’t showing your child attention and praising them for positive things in life, they start to resent you and look for the attention in negatives ways instead. As we saw with the study, this includes alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and trouble elsewhere too. As mentioned previously, time with your family doesn’t need to cost money and it can often be as simple as eating dinner together each night.
While on this topic, there’s also research to suggest an improved dietary intake for children who eat with their families often. With obesity such a huge problem within the US (and across the Western world), lack of family time can be blamed in part because it removes the control that parents have. If you have a set eating time every evening, you’re in control of all meals and can ensure the right nutrients have been consumed.
3. It Improves Relationships with a Partner
Why is family important? If we forget the children for just a second, spending time with family also allows marriages and relationships to improve. According to the Marriage Foundation in the UK, by the time children reach the age of 15, half of all babies would have seen their parents split up. Knowing just how harmful a split between parents can be, especially if it turns sour, this is a saddening statistic to see.
Often, this comes down to a breakdown in communication and one partner not spending time with the family. Over time, as one parent works, they get home late, miss the bedtime stories, and miss out on valuable family time. Eventually, the other parent starts to resent them or feel as though they don’t want to spend time with the family. Since humans are notoriously bad at communicating their feelings, the marriage or relationship breaks down despite the partner working such long hours to provide a better life for their family.
When looking for the importance of family, we need look no further than improved communication and, as we’ve already seen, improved relationships and bonds. When you spend time with your family, you’re more likely to talk through problems and even talk through the things that don’t seem big but are still important.
4. It Develops Excellent Parenting Skills in Children
As a parent, do you remember your own parents? Even though you might not realize it, we guarantee you use techniques or even phrases for your children that your own parents used when you were a child. Perhaps it’s a certain tradition you’ve carried over to your own kids? Either way, children learn from what you do as a parent to then apply it to their own later in life.
In fact, there are also benefits to this now because siblings will treat each other in a similar way to the way you treat them. Sometimes, it can be funny hearing siblings telling each other off for bad behavior using phrases we use but this is great news. As they get older, they’ll value your leadership and they can be in a stronger position to be better parents to their own children. On the flip side, children also learn from bad parenting but don’t let this happen otherwise they’ll spend their parenthood trying to be the parent you never were.
5. It Creates Positive Memories
These days, we realize more than ever that life is just too short. For parents of older children, you’ll know they seem to go from diapers to university in a split second. However, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing that gets us down. Instead, we should use it to create as many positive memories as possible. When you’re lying on the deathbed at 90 years old, do you want to remember working long hours or the memories you created with your family?
Sure, this sounds a little strong but we make no apologies because we don’t want you to fall into the same trap as so many others before you. We know just how many parents regret not spending time with their children when younger, but you still have a chance to put this right. If you have small children or you’re expecting, take days off work, spend time with your family, create memories, take photos, capture memories, and have them hanging around the house as daily reminders that your family is the best!
For this next bit, we’re talking to you fathers out there because mothers will spend the first few months with their baby. For the fathers, we’ve spoken to several who take one or two days after the birth before going back to work. Work can wait. Sadly, your child is only ever going to be this young today and this is true every single day. For the first period of their lives, you need to make yourself available, communicate with your partner, and make sure you build the foundations of a happy future together.
If someone asks you why family is important, show them this guide; we hope we’ve persuaded you to leave work an hour earlier to catch your child’s bath/bed routine, to take that extra weekend off, to take that road trip even when it seems easier to stay in the house, to eat dinner with your family each night, and just be there for one another so you don’t add to the statistic of regret when you get older!