HOW much time do you spend with your family? Family time, in many homes, is given a lesser priority, if not all together neglected. But it shouldn’t be so because the aspect of family time is so essential for the well-being of the children not only when they are young, but also in their adulthood.

Family time has a cohesive effect on the family, so much that even when siblings are miles apart, they’d always remember such moments and find time to come and visit each other, thereby keeping the family ties intact.

In these times of multichannel televisions, smart phones with every nice, little games, not to mention the various social networks available to everyone, a danger looms that families may soon start to forget each other’s names and voices.The urge to be ahead of everyone and the competition to keep up with modern trends leaves us with very little time for the family.

You may arrive home after work and want to catch up on current affairs by watching the evening news, and thereafter watch your favorite movie, or maybe lock yourself in the study to do your assignment for your private home studies. Good, but not at the expense of the family!

Or, take for example an average Zambian home: teen children would go for overnight prayers on Friday. On Saturday dad would spend the entire afternoon at his favorite pub watching European Soccer, while mum would be attending a kitchen party somewhere.How sad!

And even when everyone is back home, distraction awaits them there. These are in the form of live television shows, internet chartrooms, Cellphones; you name it, it’s all there competing for your scarce time.

It’s not uncommon today to find people in the same home all buried in themselves – one watching their favorite TV show, another hooked on to the web: browsing or zooming; and still another glued to their smartphone, twitting or playing games – living as strangers in their own home!

It’s not far-fetched these days to say that some family members could be closer to their friends on Facebook or Twitter, than they are to their own siblings in the same home. Such seemingly harmless habits tend to lead to poor communication in the home. This impaired communication in the home could lead to distrust among siblings, a situation which is not healthy for people living under one roof.

Technology, though good and beneficial in itself, has brought some challenges to the family. The above scenario is just about a few cases of how technology is depriving families the great benefits of family time.

We need to socialize; fair enough. And we cannot completely divorce ourselves from the convenient use of TV, cellphones and other technologies. But we need to be careful and ration our time so that we don’t deprive ourselves of the kindred fellowship in the home.

Another common hitch we see nowadays is the case of one parent working outside town; coming home only at weekends. Worse still are the cases where the husband is in Zambia while the wife is working somewhere in Europe, 10 000 miles away from children. Indeed times are hard and people would do anything possible to put bread and butter on the table and send children to school. It is a very precarious situation and couples are forced to arrive at such arrangements for various reasons. Some people want to work out of town and come home only at weekends because that’s the only work they could find. Others do so for higher pay.

Working abroad sounds luxurious but leaving children to one parent is not the best of choices. However my advice is: Working near your family and having family time together is better than working away but getting huge salaries.
There’s actually a lot at stake here. The family is mankind’s smallest unit in any community. With the traditional extended family on the verge of disintegration, we should not allow what remains of our only human identity to fade away.

Remember, family time is worthy much more than what money or material possession could bring.

Just what do we mean by family time? Family time is that moment a household could come together and knit their bonds. This may be during meal times, Bible study sessions, watching a movie together, outdoor fun at the backyard, or any other time when siblings can be together and interact.

For example, working in the backyard garden with children – planting or weeding to ensure that the right plants survive – could teach children the tenets of sawing and reaping, while at the same time inculcating in them the value of self-reliance. At one times one child could play the guitar while others sing. Or everybody could join in and do a cappella! At other times dad or mum could tell their childhood tales, or better still the family could just sit about and have fun – enjoying each other’s company – and for family’s sake!

It’s during these times that young children could learn to read and speak confidently. Older ones could learn to share their hopes, visualize their dreams, or face their fears. Parents could also encourage and inspire the family, giving them hope for the future.

During family time, vital social and customary information is passed on.

• Children ask questions and get answers to their questions.

• Children would always cherish and remember such moments for many years to come.

• Family time helps to knit the family together.

In light of the above, parents need to deliberately set aside time for the family to be together and share their lives. By doing so the family would remain one and such moments could be cherished for many years to come.

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