Do your days ever go like this? As you head off to drop one child at a lesson and support another at a sporting event, no one is interested in coming along to cheer. When it’s time to enjoy a meal together, you can’t get everyone to come to the table, let alone get any help to set the table and prepping the meal. If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to work on family teamwork.
To begin, have clear expectations for your family members. Hold an informal family meeting to discuss these expectations. Explain how a family functions and why each member is important. Review some of the values that are important to your family, like work ethic, kindness, loyalty and honesty, then you can address specific needs in your family as related to teamwork and togetherness.
If getting people to help around the house is a problem, you could assign specific chores to each child, or make a list of chores that must be accomplished in a certain time frame. Family members could sign up for tasks they prefer. I used to wonder why my Mom made all of the kids stay outside until the weeding was done. It was torture then, but now I know how to work with others and finish tasks assigned to me. Parents must expect children to contribute in taking care of the home.
Set an example of a parent who is actively engaged in family life. Listen to your children when they want to talk about their interests, even if video games aren’t exciting to you. Praise children for their successes in front of the whole family, and encourage everyone to celebrate together. Try to spend time with each family member individually, as well. All parents are busy, and have a tendency to say phrases like “I’m busy.” or “Not right now.” Examine your own habits and try to say “yes” more often, giving your children your full attention. Do the same for your spouse.
Plan family outings and activities at home where all members can have an enjoyable time. Make sure that outings are appropriate for most family members, or varied enough that, in time, the toddlers and the teenagers enjoy themselves. Family game nights or movie nights at home are often successful. Most families enjoy exploring the outdoors and being active together.
Sometimes family members get too involved in their own needs. Putting together a service activity where each person in the family is a secret friend to another member might help curb selfishness. Some larger families assign older children to watch out and care for younger children within the family. I often ask my older children to help their younger siblings by reading them stories or helping them dress. In turn, I ask the younger siblings to help with chores and to give hugs to all family members.
An important way to develop a sense of teamwork in a family is to pray together and for each other. If your teenage son has an important test coming up, pray for him to remember the material. If your daughter is struggling with gossip at school, pray for her to stand strong and be at peace. Your children will be fortified as they hear you praying aloud for them.
Family members who feel valued are more willing to help out and contribute to a happy family life. Take inventory of your family. If you need to improve in the area of togetherness, get started now. It won’t take long for you to be a winning team.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.