Family

Some days it may seem like there aren't enough hours in the day to squeeze in professional, personal and family obligations. Don't let life's juggling act distract you from what's truly important…the people you love. Gather around the dinner table with your children or plan a road trip with your grandmother. Building strong family bonds will keep your loved ones connected for generations.

No time for a family vacation? You can start connecting with loved ones by expressing your feelings more often…whether it's with a big bear hug or a simple "I love you." Cherish the quality time you have with your family and try to avoid petty disagreements.
A family eating dinner

Do you know the story behind your great-aunt's secret recipe? Holidays are the perfect time to find out! Many families come together to celebrate major holidays and share foods that have been passed down from generation to generation. Ask your elders to share the stories behind your favorite family traditions and foods with the children at the dinner table. This helps instill a sense of family pride.

Remember, you don't have to wait for a holiday to build a tradition around food! Whether it's pizza, spaghetti or hot dogs, designate one night a week for your kid's favorite dinner—and have them help in the preparation! Some days it may seem like there aren't enough hours in the day to squeeze in professional, personal and family obligations. Don't let life's juggling act distract you from what's truly important…the people you love. Gather around the dinner table with your children or plan a road trip with your grandmother. Building strong family bonds will keep your loved ones connected for generations.

No time for a family vacation? You can start connecting with loved ones by expressing your feelings more often…whether it's with a big bear hug or a simple "I love you." Cherish the quality time you have with your family and try to avoid petty disagreements.
Road trip

Banish all portable music players and DVDs from your car, and hit the highway for an old-fashioned family road trip. Back in the good old days, families entertained themselves with sing-alongs and car games.

When your children get antsy in the backseat, pull over for a roadside picnic or unpack the fishing poles and try to catch a "keeper." At the end of the trip, you're sure to have family photos and memories that will last a lifetime.
Jean and her daughter Dorothy

Children may not remember their first birthday party or first bath, but a keepsake box can help commemorate those special moments for years to come. Decorate a sturdy box with paints, ribbons, fabric, buttons and beads—be creative! Then, save photos, school programs, family videos or scraps of your child's first blanket to include in this gift. Include anything you think will bring back memories! Don't forget to write a meaningful letter to your child—seal your legacy with love.

Sometimes, the greatest gift of all is the gift of memories—they last forever and the fun of "opening" them never disappears!
Backyard party

Expand your family circle by reconnecting with first, second and even third cousins! Don't wait for the reunion to come together as a group. Plan an annual "cousinfest" with backyard baseball, barbecue and family bonding. You'll rediscover long-lost relatives while your children meet life-long friends, which is the best gift you can give them.
Mother and girls

If you're having trouble connecting to your teenager, why not start a mother-child book club in your neighborhood? Moms realize that as their children become teenagers, they begin drifting away. The book club gives moms an outlet to express their feelings to their children and a reason to be close to them.

By choosing books with topics that adolescents deal with, the book discussions will create an opportunity for everyone to talk openly about important issues, including developing sexuality and relationships with friends.
Two women

Staying connected with your children can be even more difficult when they grow up and leave the nest. Instead of letting the empty house get you down, throw your young adults a send-off party! Give gifts that symbolize freedom and responsibility—a basic cookbook, a box of detergent with rolls of quarters, or a key chain accessory with $20 for a cab ride home from a party. Showing your support helps make the transition into adulthood easier on everyone!

Sons and daughters also need to keep the lines of communication open to remain close with their parents. Encourage your children to check in at least once a week, whether it's with an e-mail update every Friday or a Sunday morning phone call.

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