In Praise of Reaching Out

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Simple Reminders for a More Purposeful, Connected Year

Happy 2018, big-hearted families! 

Whether you are a resolution-maker or not, the start of a new year feels so fresh, so hopeful.

To paraphrase L. M. Montgomery's Anne, Isn't it lovely to think that ahead of us is a new year with no mistakes in it yet?

I like to think of January as just one of many touch points throughout the year, along with the start of summer and the start of a new school year, that inspire me to check my family's daily habits against our big-picture priorities.

Has your family created a Mission Statement yet? Our artful project will guide you through a conversation about what your family stands for this year.

Whatever your goals and hopes, let's take care to prioritize people over packed calendars and frenzied to-do lists.

Let's make one overarching resolution together: going forward let's share more intentional compassion, more love, and more time with the people around us.

With the best of intentions, we set out to teach our children life lessons and practical skills by enrolling them in more and more clubs, lessons, and athletics. In doing this, we stretch ourselves and our kids thin, for the sake of popular expectations about what prepares kids for a successful life. We wind up with little time and diminishing compassion for the people around us.

Do we want to let the year rush by under the power of its own momentum? Do we want to allow our days and weeks to become too busy for meaningful relationships and rewarding human connections?

Of course not. When we make time to deepen relationships with our friends and family, we feel more centered and joyful every time. And our lives feel fuller, more purposeful when we make time to connect with others in our community, those that need our help as well as those who help make our lives easier.

Whatever other resolutions your family has set, from eating well to mastering that sonata to beating last year's time, be sure to reach out to others with these four simple reminders.

1. Be a family of helpers.

Try this: Sign up for DGT's monthly volunteer listings or add a kindness project to your family calendar.

Family acts of service teach so many life lessons. Even better, recurring service projects can forge incredible connections with people you may otherwise never know. Here are a few of our favorite recurring service opportunities that will empower your family to build new relationships:

2. Ritualize one-on-one family time.

Try this: Find a natural opportunity in your weekly schedule to carve out regular micro-dates.

I experimented with micro-dates last fall, and with all three of my children, I discovered that one-on-one time is exponentially rewarding. Reliable time alone together gives your child the opportunity to ask big questions or unburden themselves of nagging worries. My daughter would often save up things she wanted to talk about for our weekly date. 

Don't stress about planning an expensive, glamorous outing. Build time into your schedule naturally, and you'll find mini-dates are something you'll look forward to week after week. For example, while one child is at practice, take the other to the library or on a hike. Or even make your weekly grocery store visit a companionable, gadget-free experience together.

Whatever you do, make an effort to "notice" out loud and often, how much you enjoy your regular date. Everyone wants to feel valued.

3. Help kids build strong friendships.

Try this: Practice being a "social coach" for your kids.

Parents are often tempted to shrug off children's social interactions as something they need to work out on their own. But remember, younger children need consistent guidance when it comes to solving social conflicts. Older elementary and middle schoolers can benefit even more from a little coaching, as they encounter tricky social situations for the first time.

Rather than telling your child how to approach a situation, think like a coach and ask leading questions that help your child practice doing 180s (or seeing the world from another person's perspective).

  • How would you have felt (in the other person's position)?

  • What do you think (the other person) is really concerned about?

  • How do think you could approach this situation next time?

4. Use gadgets for social good!

Try this: Use your devices to connect with those you care about and build community.

  Join DGT's Facebook group  to connect with like-minded families committed to doing good!

Join DGT's Facebook group to connect with like-minded families committed to doing good!

I – like many of you – share a love-hate relationship with social media. In fact, "less scrolling" was on my personal resolutions list. (I make long lists!) At their core, however, the technological marvels in our pockets and our handbags are incredible tools to connect with people.

  • Video chat far-off friends and family. Set a regular date to help build relationships.

  • Join our Facebook group! We're welcoming all parents committed to building a kinder, better world to join us in our closed Facebook group. (Request an invite, and we'll welcome you right in!) Kindly invite at least one good friend to join as well. Together we'll motivate, encourage, troubleshoot, and celebrate one another's efforts to do good.

  • Become a member! Take your commitment to building connections even further by joining our membership circle. We offer weekly tips, specialized coaching, and exclusive resources to help you make living generously and intentionally a regular family practice.

  • Get more device advice from DGT's recent newsletter Growing Up Digital, full of tips to use devices well.

No matter what other goals you've set for the coming year, join us in putting people first. Our families, our friends, our communities, and people across the world will thrive together when we wake up each day asking, "How can I help?"

Still looking?

Browse our collection of tools to parent with purpose.

If you like our free resources, you'll love our membership program! Join today and we'll help you keep kindness on your family calendar all year long.

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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.