Some guys struggle with creating a bond with their family. It’s not that they don’t love their families… they do… but they expect closeness to happen naturally, and that doesn’t always happen. It takes work to build bonds with your wife and your children. And the work must continue if you want to strengthen that bond over the years. Here are some practical ways you can strengthen the bond with your family.
How to Strengthen the Bond with Your Family
Show Interest in What They Enjoy
Simply showing interest in what your family is doing can help create or strengthen bonds. Even if you aren’t really into what they’re doing, asking questions and showing that you care about what they care about will mean the world to them.
For example, when my wife asks me to take her shooting, it makes me incredibly happy to do that with her. She’s not that into it, honestly, but she knows that I enjoy it and that I have the expertise to share, so it makes a fun date for us every now and then.
Even something as simple as watching TV together provides an opportunity to spend time with each other, but you have to be engaged. Does my wife like watching every game that the Rays or Reds play during baseball season like my son and I do? No, but she watches a lot of them and engages with us while she does. Do I want to watch Parks & Rec or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for the 8th time? No, it’s not my first choice, but if my wife is watching it, I can spend that time with her.
And as far as bonding with my son, he loves video games. I, personally, would rather clean the entire house than play video games for an hour. But, we take turns engaging in each other’s shared interests. And I have to say… I never, ever regret spending that time together.
Do Things Together
Do something together as a family. It doesn’t matter if it’s playing a board game or going grocery shopping. Just spending more time together can help strengthen the bond with your family. Look for ways that you can do more together, even if it’s a mundane activity.
For example, we almost always go grocery shopping together as a family twice a month for the big grocery hauls. On those days, however, we also go out on a lunch or dinner date and grab dessert at our favorite bakery. We make it a family date!
Sometimes, you have to adjust your priorities. I love going to the gym, but on the days that I work 12 hours, I feel bad about leaving again for another hour or two when my son will be in bed by the time I get back. So on those days, I get my exercise by hiking around the lake with my kid. He’s not super into hiking, but we end with 30 minutes at the park to make it fun for him.
You have no idea how much it will mean to simply be present. Showing up for games, practices, awards ceremonies, etc. – it all means something. Your wife will love you even more and your kids will always remember that you were there.
How often do you communicate with your family? Sit down at the dinner table and ask everyone how their day was. Listen to what they have to say rather than tuning them out and nodding. Not only will this strengthen your bond with your family, but kids that eat dinner with their family do better in school and are less likely to get into trouble.
Put the cell phone away during dinner. In fact, make an effort to put it away for at least an hour a day after you get home. That will help you, more than anything else, to engage, communicate, and be present with your family.
Last, but not least, help out more. Help your wife clean and cook. Help the kids with their homework. You don’t get a free pass with those things just because you’ve worked all day. Odds are, your wife has worked all day, too. Be the father and husband your family needs.
If you want a strong bond with your family, you need to be a stand-up guy. Be there for your family. Show interest in what they love and do more stuff together. And, yes, communicate with them. It will all bring you closer to your family.