Parenting help is sought for many reasons. Sometimes new families just want practical ideas. Others wonder why constant aggravation are the norm of their family life.
It doesn't have to be that way.
The healing path of the "shared family journey"
After working with hundreds of parents and studying with award-winning child professionals, a certain type of family group activity seemed to be more evident in harmonious families, and left out more often in others. Easy to duplicate, you'll learn how in this article. Many just didn't know it was so effective before.
A healing, shared family journey you can begin right away:
Allow me to get symbolic for just for a moment -- it will help the parenting help method below make much more sense.
When raising our kids today, they are often center stage… we’re "facing them" – watching their soccer games, facilitating their birthday parties.
And sometimes, we "both face each other" -- as in playing games :), family meals :), and arguing :(.
As a third alternative, in the long ago olden days, kids more often "faced us," (vs. us facing them). They were backstage helpers watching and catering to the parents to help operate the family farm or business.
We need all three of these! They all have their place.
But there’s another alternative besides 1. facing our kids, 2. having them face us, or 3. facing each other that’s often missing. You might want to add it your family. It’s when: 4. the entire group is facing outward at the same target towards something beyond the family. You may know the saying about seeking one's own heart and not finding it until helping another. Sometimes, the family heart can be found this way as well.
A balanced dose of family group activities where the whole group
journeys towards a common goal beyond the family can slowly, little by
little, start to draw out new and wonderful behaviors.
I have seen families turn around by partaking in these types of activities, and that ended up being all the parenting help they needed.
Okay, the symbolism is ending, almost.
Facing outwards together towards the same goal means there’s something outside the family we all want to journey towards where the parents' role slightly changes because something larger (the people in charge of the activity) is the authority. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the parents go to these activities and sit back and stop disciplining. I'm saying the new authority gives the reason why discipline is necessary by the parents, rather than the parents having to explain the whys. This common goal the family faces towards starts to wire us for partnership and respect… partly because we have a break from thinking only about our own family needs.
Start the journey
There are many forms of group “facing outwards” family activities, but the ones that usually work the best to draw our focus outwards use the healing power of helping animals as a family unit. All without buying a pet or being a left-wing animal rights advocate if you don't want to be.
Your daughter will find animals don’t care if she made the
cheerleading squad or not. They need her anyway. They can melt the outer
shells of our hearts, which can be the greatest parenting help needed
Shelters, rescue centers and wildlife rescue volunteer activities can serve as inadvertent parenting help when the family needs to get out of themselves and face the same direction.
Parents and kids both are focused on the needs of others outside the family (the village that helps raise the kids... great parenting help), kids can see parents in a new light -- people who are also learning, and people who are valuable to others rather than just being the bad guys who yell at them for not making their beds.
Your dinner time conversations may become even better and deeper with shared-goal projects like this that involve making a difference with hands-on animal volunteering.
Here are some possible journeys for all family members to face outwards together:
Small domestic animal shelters. I and another parent took groups of children to our local Humane Society which allowed the kids to pet, hold and bathe the animals. The ability to see how one can better the world for another was wonderful, and so were the stories they brought home to talk about, such as holding cats on their laps until they finally got them to start purring.
A television documentary on healing with animals recently revealed that cats purr at the same sound frequency range known to heal bone and muscle tissue in humans!
Call your local Humane Society or contact petfinder.com for shelters in your area. Please visit them alone first, though. Some shelters are not properly run, and not fit for young children to participate in. (If that's the case, please draw attention of such a place to authorities who can help.)
Horse rescue centers. Leigh Shambo of the Human Equine Alliance for Learning (H.E.A.L.) has demonstrated profound positive changes with people when they encounter horses without even riding them. There’s something magical about their huge hearts and their need for socialization and historical bond with humankind. Horses can offer wonderful parenting help!
Do an online search with the terms “equine rescue (your location)” and “horse rescue (your location)" to find a facility near you, and ask about hands-on direct animal volunteering. There are also cases where an outgrown pony or ponies kept by an elder citizen need help to stay in its home with its owner, though these situations are harder to find. Once you find a location, you'll find it far more fulfilling than sitting on a carnival pony as it trudges around in a circle. Remember, for the parenting help we’re focusing on in this page, it’s not just about encountering animals, such as observing them at a zoo, it’s about their needs and helping them as a family unit.
Wildlife rescue volunteering: Contact the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA). You can also contact your local Game & Fish Department, an animal control officer, your region’s Humane Society, or a local veterinarian. They often know of nearby wildlife rehabilitation facilities.
For hands-on family group volunteering, training may be suggested or required, which can be a wonderful opportunity for a family. The Defenders of Wildlife have volunteer projects that include helping animals without touching them if allergies are a problem. They are as diverse as kayaking a pond to hunt for an endangered snake, counting local squirrel numbers and monitoring mountain wildlife with photography. For something exotic, Turtle.org shows how you can help monitor live sea turtles as they nest on tropical beaches.
Remember, this type of help for parents comes by engaging these activities as a family unit vs. sending the kids off on their own to these places.
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