The whole world is getting locked down due to the Coronavirus. Families are forced to stay within the walls of their homes for long periods of time. But thanks to the internet and the online options for entertainment, everyone can keep themselves busy staying in the same room and yet….. not interacting with each other. So, despite having been forced together, family members continue to stay lost in their own ‘cyber worlds’….
And yet… if we do think for a moment, this is a unique situation…. offering family members a chance to bond again. So if you are interested in using this opportunity, read on…
Every group has a leader (whether formal or informal) and if you are a leader in your family (parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt), then you could dramatically deepen the bonding between family members by doing one or more of the following activities:
Precondition: Of course, you would have to convince your family members to give up their phones, pads, laptops, Alexa, or television sets and do other seemingly ‘mundane’ activities together. That could be a bit challenging in the beginning but might be easier once they get hooked.
You, as the leader, may need to be patient and persuasive, as forcing people to give up their electronic gadgets could cause conflicts, arguments, and cold wars, aggravating the underlying tension due to the restrictions.
So, here are the three activities that could deepen your family bonds and add fun and zest to the day.
a. Relive real-life experiences: These could be everyday situations but what is more important is to know how was the experience. Start with the youngest in the family. Everyone sit around and listen attentively to the narration of any interesting incident that happened with him/her. The only one condition is that no one should have heard about that incident before. Once the narrative is over, ask the following questions, one at a time. Move to the next question only after the first one has been answered:
a. How did you feel about it?
b. Did something change for you?
c. What will you do differently because of this incident?
Allow them time to chew on these questions before answering back. Once the youngest has narrated an incident and answered the questions, shift to the other end of the age spectrum and ask the oldest to narrate an incident. Keep shifting forward and backward.
Perspective: Sharing stories is a powerful way to bond. This encourages us to relive other persons’ emotions and empathize. Friends, lovers, colleagues, acquaintances do this without realizing, slowly deepening their relationship. On the other hand, due to familiarity and emotional baggage against family members, we stop sharing stories or listening to them.
b. Create together: What can you create in the confines of the house? Maybe draw a sketch, write a poem, imagine a story, create a tune, cook a dish. But what is important in this exercise is to do it together. So if you are sketching a horse, one member of the family first draws the head, the next member makes the body and the third one the legs and so on. If you are cooking a dish, one member gives the directions (which are accepted without argument) and the others cook it. You could even do a small skit enacting a scene from an actual or imagined situation.
Once the poem is written read it out together, taste the dish as a family, pass around the sketch, enjoying the experience.
Perspective: Creating together takes any relationship to a new level. As we use our right brains (creative centers) and imagine together, we tend to empathize more, share emotions, and connect at a deep level with each other. A bond that music band members, designers, software engineers and such creative teams share with each other.
c. Dance together: Switch on the music, and sway to it. Ask the youngest member of the family to lead the dance steps while others follow, with their own variations. On a different note, play a game where each family member tries to tell a story through dance and song, using facial gestures and body movements while singing, creating the ‘dance’ on the go. Others join in with dance, asking questions, adding to the story. Otherwise, just switch on the music and dance together, laughing and appreciating each other.
Perspective: When people dance together, there is a ‘blurring’ of the selves into the group as they synchronise movements with each other. It brings out the ‘creative child’ and deepens the bonding with each other while the logical or critical self is suspended. Last but not the least, it is a good way to exercise.