Warm up your new year
If 2014 was a bit rocky for your family, this long New Year’s weekend might be just what you need to get back on track. Find a cozy time and talk as a family about some things you’d like to do better in 2015. Consider having a calendar out, so you can write down any good ideas that come up. Pour some hot cocoa or steaming cups of cider—studies show that hot liquids make us feel warmer and more generous toward others.
Here are some New Year's resolutions that could help your family have a better year in 2015:
Resolve to be present. Parents are the masters of multitasking. We can answer e-mails while making dinner, dress for work while signing permission slips, help with homework while folding laundry. Although some multitasking is necessary, too much can get in the way of being present to each other.
Maureen, mother of five, believes that if she could slow down, her children would better understand her love for them. “I often find myself rushing through each day without taking the time to really look into the eyes of each of my children. I fear that the never-ending task lists and nonstop errands seem top priority to my children,” she says. “My resolution for the new year is to stop what I am doing when my children speak to me and look into their eyes while they ask me their questions, tell me their excitements, or simply ask, ‘What’s for dinner?’ My hope is that my children will more easily feel the warmth and love for them that I carry in my heart.”
Carol, mother of four, is on the same track. “When a child asks me to play a game, my resolution is to answer yes instead of ‘Not right now.’ The days of my kids wanting to play a game with me are numbered—why do I throw those opportunities away?”
Resolve to bring the family together. As children get older, they often retreat to their room, the basement, or another place where the family doesn’t gather. Marcos, father of two teens, says, “Our son likes the fireplace and he’s calmed by candlelit rooms. I try to light the fireplace as often as I can in these colder months simply because it draws him into the room. Sometimes, at his age, that’s enough—maybe we’re both reading different things, but we’re in the same room.”
Jamie, father of four, says, “We want to begin to respect Sunday as the Sabbath and reclaim it as a day for family to be together, not just another day to get things done around the house,” he says.
Resolve to commit to faith. Building a family faith life involves more than attending Mass. Discussing questions and observations about God can be just as important. LaTonya says proofreading her son’s high school theology papers has led to many good faith discussions. “The simple act of his sharing his work with me initiates conversation,” she says. “His teacher throws some big issues at [students] and asks them to draw on their Catholic history and faith to formulate conclusions. I know he’s going through a questioning period, and so it’s interesting for us to share the teacher’s prompt. We end up talking about church history and our belief systems. His is very different from mine, and that’s OK. But I know he’s interested and is listening to me and my viewpoint, too, even though he wouldn’t admit that!”
Even dinnertime prayer deserves a boost. “My goal for 2015 is for our family meal prayer to be more thoughtful, not a droning, quick repetition,” Carol says. “I also want us to plan some short trips to religious destinations. We plan for sports destinations, so why not this?”
This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of At Home With Our Faith, Claretian Publications' family spirituality newsletter. Visit www.homefaith.com to read more or click here for subscription information.