By JEAN SELVAM
Another year has gone by and we are now already a few weeks into 2016! We can certainly tell that everyone is back to the daily grind after the long holiday, judging by the sales of school-related items, the hustle and bustle of early morning traffic and of course, the stressed expressions of parents everywhere.
It certainly feels like time is flying by and although it’s still the same 24/7 routine, somehow, with packed schedules and electronic devices around us, each day seems to end as quickly as it started.
Behold! Before we know it, it’s already the end of January 2016!
In these early days of 2016, nearly everyone speaks about resolutions for the year. Thanks to social media, there are even tips on choosing practical New Year resolutions and ways to achieve them!
Naturally, I got sucked into this idea of setting resolutions for 2016, with hopes that it will be even better than my awesome 2015.
While I was thinking of a resolution for this year, I realised that the best way for me to be resolute is by reflecting on the past year.
I reflected on everything – the joys, challenges, successes, relationships and many other aspects of my life.
As I was in this “reflective zone”, feeling all Zen-like, I began to wish I could share these thoughts and memories with my family – the people that I love and trust.
What a wonderful way it would be to connect as a family and truly be supportive of each other if we could reflect on the past year together and create resolutions for the upcoming year.
So I would like to extend this invitation to you, young and old, to gather your family and share your reflections; be it happy, sad, silly, stressful or even funny.
It may not be the first day of the year to set resolutions, but it is never too late to create loving memories as a family.
How to begin
Now, I can imagine your questions: “Where do I start?” or “What do we talk about?”
Wouldn’t this be awkward if you have never reflected as a family before? Or if you have never talked about personal things?
I can imagine the anxiety or concern for many families to communicate in this way. Well, maybe starting the conversation with some light-hearted questions or funny memories could help ease the awkwardness or anxiety. It does not even have to be a lengthy discussion, but it will foster a better emotional bond as a family.
Family reflection can be a very special time. It draws you closer and allows each person to see that in your trials and tribulations in life, you do not need to fight the battle alone.
It creates a space for each person to be honest and open about their lives, and helps in gaining a greater understanding of individual experiences. Most of us already know that we have our family’s support, love and prayers at all times. Moments like these allow us to deepen this trust in a nurturing environment.
Family reflection time can be a great way to expose your children to the daily challenges we face as adults. Very often, parents prefer to keep challenges to themselves in an attempt to ‘shield’ their children from the harsh realities of life.
An honest discussion can be an effective way to allow them to understand that struggles, fears and challenges are part and parcel of life. Discussing solutions together as a family will also help them hone critical-thinking and problem-solving skills at a younger age.
Given the myriad benefits tied to family reflection time, I truly hope that families adopt the tradition of having not just year-end family quality time, but also meaningful gatherings throughout the year.
Children look up to their parents or elders to set traditions and model strong family values. Introducing these values and traditions through reflection time will add more depth and meaning, as we can easily tie them to real situations and experiences.
Therefore, honour the past year by celebrating your joys, mourning your losses and shaking your head at the wonder of it all. Isn’t it amazing how another year has passed? Let’s embrace the new year – united as a family.
Here are some questions to get you started as you reflect together with your family. The answers might surprise you!
- Pick three words to describe this past year.
- What was the best thing that happened to you this past year?
- What was the most challenging thing that happened to you?
- What single achievement are you most proud of?
- What was an unexpected joy this past year?
- What was an unexpected obstacle that you faced?
- What was the bravest thing you did this year?
- What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
- What new things did you discover about yourself?
- What experience would you love to do all over again?
- Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this past year?
- What, or who, are you most thankful for?
- What was your favorite thing we did as a family this year?
- What was the best part about our family holiday?
- Is there something we did as a family this year that you think you’ll remember for the rest of your life?
- What is your favorite thing to do with the family?
- What did you love most about being in our family this year?
- What do you think was most challenging for our family this year?
- Are there any funny memories of the family from 2015?
- Was there anyone in the family who inspired or motivated you to do something this past year?
- Pick 3 words to describe each of your family member’s year. Don’t ask, but try to guess based on what you know over the past year.
- How do you hope 2016 will be different for you?
- Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you and your family.
- What should be our New Year’s resolution as a family for 2016?
- Now that you know each other’s reflections for 2015, what are your hopes for each of your family members this year?
If you would like to find out how you can leverage your strengths and manage your weaknesses in your personal or professional life, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Starting Young articles, click here.
Jean enjoys working with children and youth because they inspire her to be a joyous and courageous person. She is with Leaderonomics Youth and has a background in family therapy.