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Getting Back To Family

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Johanna Hicks

By Johanna Hicks, Extension Agent, Family and Community Health Agent, Hopkins County,

I have often said that strong marriages make strong families and strong families make strong communities. We must remember that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders.  Somewhere along the way, Americans have lost the idea of putting emphasis on strong relationships.  The violence, confusion, misbehaviors, and lack of respect have caused major problems in schools and communities.  Teachers are exhausted at the end of the day because many students are disrespectful and often belligerent.  Law enforcement officials are being stretched to the breaking point, and families are crumbling.

There is not an easy solution, but a stepping-stone to helping improve the chaos is to start with the home.  Parents should teach their children right from wrong, respect for authority, and responsibility, all while setting a good example.  Being a parent is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that we will ever have.  There will be many joys and frustrations because children don’t come with an instruction manual.  We all make mistakes when it comes to parenting, but learning from those mistakes is crucial.

The foundation for children’s successful development is established early in life.  From birth, children interact with others in a variety of contexts that shape who they are as individuals.  Parents, caregivers, teachers, peers, extended family, community, media, heredity, and environment all influence a child’s growth and development.  However, parents serve as the primary influence in their lives.  Take them to church, play with them, teach them about good character, and most of all, love them.

For teens, sports and after-school activities are back in full swing and this is a busy time of year!  One of the best ways to communicate with your teen is through food. It can be stressful for families to figure out how to plan, prepare, and eat meals together, but family time is so important. One particular manufacturer of dinner napkins had a brilliant idea.  Printed on each napkin is a discussion starter for mealtime.  These include: “What was your favorite thing about today?”  “If you could make a difference for someone, what would you do?”, etc.  Conversations with your children and teens will lead to better understanding of their feelings, fears, and needs.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has put together some suggestions to make preparing and eating family meals easier:  

  1. Spend some time on the weekend planning out meals for the week.  Use quick, simple recipes that won’t take up valuable family time.
  2. Schedules don’t align for dinner? Try having breakfast together instead. Enjoy your morning coffee with the kids as they eat breakfast instead of drinking it at work.
  3. When you can be home together, turn off the TV, move away from devices, and spend time focused on conversations.

Keep in mind what works for some families might not work for others. Whether it is leftovers eaten together on the couch or a formal, cooked meal, it all counts! The research is clear that preparing and eating meals together can improve family connections, communications, and create lasting memories. A little extra planning may be worth a lot in the long run!

49th Annual Christmas Joys

This is a popular event!  Scheduled for Monday, November 7, the program will feature presentations on gift-giving, decorating, crafts, recipes, and more for the holidays.  As of this writing, the 1:30 session is FULL, but several seats remain for the 5:30 p.m. session.  If you are interested in attending, please call the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443.  We must have a name and phone number for each seat reserved.  The cost is $5 payable at the door.  Children under 10 are free.  Those attending will receive a swag bag and a booklet of all the recipes and instructions for things demonstrated. 

Closing Thought

Having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world. – Andy Rooney

Contact Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent at the Hopkins County Extension Office, P.O. Box 518, 1200-B West Houston St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; or [email protected]

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Author: Faith Huffman

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