Parenting 101

Gifts from the family


Now that the holiday gift-giving season is over, it is important to remember that the most important gifts you give your child don't come from stores. They come from within your family. For these gifts to be fully realized by you and your family, however, it helps to recall what some of them are. Here are a few examples of the gifts inherent in the family that will sustain everyone for the duration of your lives.

The first gift that a family can give is the gift of a home. A home provides each person with a center from which they can operate. No matter where you roam, you know that you have a place to go back to.

Each of us has had an experience of the family as a protective skin between himself or herself and a world that can be foreign, threatening and hostile. The family provides a cocoon, or nest, to its members and offers the gift of softness in a harsh world. It protects each person when they venture out into the world.

Another gift that comes from the family is the security each individual has as a result of being known and supported by one another. Everyone wants to know who they are and to be comfortable with being who they are. A family can offer its members the opportunities to know and to be themselves in part because they know each other's habits and understand better than anyone else the trials that they have been through.

Peer pressure has a substantial impact on young people. If all the members of your family possess a strong perception of what is correct and what is wrong as a result of the values you are supporting, your child is less likely to suffer unwanted influences. When individuals try to get you or your child to do things which aren't correct, you will find you are stronger together than alone. There is an inherent strength in being "us," which is another gift your family can provide to one another.

In many situations, deciding the correct thing to do or knowing the best way to proceed can be challenging. Families can hold discussions in which each member feels safe to express his thoughts and feelings. Everyone can be encouraged to think rationally to come to the best solution. These discussions are gifts because they enable individual family members to know how to make good decisions.

One way you can maximize the gifts your family has to offer is to ask everyone to join you in having discussions about them. Begin the process by asking open-ended questions: What is most important to you about being in our family? Or, how does being in our family bring you happiness? Other good questions could be: What makes you most proud about our family? Or, what do you look forward to when you come home? You could also try, what does our family provide for you that you don't get from your friends? In addition, encourage your family members to ask their own related questions.

Remember, when your family is by your child's side, he or she will never feel alone. A team of people want the best for him and will always be there when he, she-- or you-- need a helping hand. The powerful family relationships the parents create make life for everyone in your family simpler and better. From promoting inner growth to giving financial support, the family can help its members to achieve their goals. That is why the family can be said to be a collaborative gift of fidelity and hope - one that will keep on giving from one generation to the next.

Contact Shanti, who has a Ph.D. in psychology and is a self-actualization and parenting skills coach, at