Monday marked the celebration of National Family Day, and families throughout the county spent a little extra time reflecting on the importance of their relationships with one another.
“National Family Day encourages families to spend more time together and learn how to openly talk about different situations,” said Brenda David, a substance abuse prevention consultant with Alcohol and Drug Services in Rockingham. “This way, if children have problems, they’re not afraid to talk to parents — it allows parents to know what’s going on in their kids’ lives.”
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University website, teens who have excellent relationships with their mom and dad are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke. Furthermore, teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week) are more likely to report having excellent relationships with their parents.
“Besides eating together, parents should get involved in their kids’ daily routine,” David said. “Even if it’s just watching TV together. Ask questions. I use myself as an example. When my son goes outside to play basketball, I’ll go out there with him and try to play basketball. It gets him talking — on his level, on his terms. We might talk about basketball, girls, problems at school … It made him open up to me.
“If we as parents don’t do it, somebody else is going to do it — and you don’t want it to be a bad influence,” she added.
In order to get others involved, Alcohol and Drug Services sent out letters to local churches and schools, encouraging them to set aside time to spend together with their families. Second Baptist Day School of Hamlet participated by allowing parents to eat lunch with their children, David said.
Across town, the Girls Can! program held a discussion about the importance of good family relationships.
“The participants of Girls Can! were very eager to share their special family-oriented moments with the group,” said Courtney Wall, Girls Can! coordinator. “Girls shared their different ways of having dinner (traditional and non-traditional), trips across the world (near and far), and some even incorporated their everyday family activities. The Girls Can! curriculum also has particular sections that focus on the importance of interacting with your family (Teen & Parent Connection). This project opened the door for humor and excitement. Some girls were more open after this particular session.
“Various skills, ideas and approaches to certain situations were identified, such as the different ways to be appropriate and respectful towards your sibling(s) and or your guardian/parent(s),” Wall continued. “I shared with the girls how I was the youngest sibling and the only female, expressing that I enjoy Sunday dinner/afternoons at my parents’ house because of the family bond and friendship amongst each of my immediate family members. After the intern from Richmond Community College and I shared our personal stories, the teens opened up even more with detailed dinner nights, girls night in, and other cool techniques of how they interact with their family members. At the end of the session, all of the teens realized that their family members play a huge role in their lives.”
In honor of National Family Day, many children and young adults were also asked to submit letters describing one of their favorite family memories. (See related story.)
Alcohol and Drug Services of Rockingham offer free services throughout Richmond County for ages 3 and older.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.
My favorite family time was when we went to Va and we picked apples off the tree and ate them. Mom showed us how to climb a tree and dad held us on his shoulders to reach the apples. It was the best time ever. It was more fun than the time my brother fell off the fence picking cherries.
— Amber David, 7, Washington Street School
When I went to the beach with my foster family we had so much fun even though it rained the whole time. I had fun because everybody was there and we went to the beach, the pool and different places to eat! It was fun.
— Tierra Dupuy, 15, Girls Can! participant
The most memorable family moment I had was when my family went to Maryland to see my great great grandma. We went across lots of states. When we got there, we got our room, then we drove around town to find where all the stores were at and the building she lived in. Then we went in there and said hi. She had lots of dolls in her house. And she still knew how to cook. After we ate, we left so we could finish unpacking and went to bed. We took lots of pictures and had lots of fun when we were there.
— Ney-hagee Patterson, 12, Girls Can! participant
My favorite family time was one day last year when I was in 5th grade. Me and my daddy fixed food for movie time. We gave movie tickets to my mom, brother, and two little sisters to come to the movie. We setup the den like we were at the movies. It was fun. We watched Diary of Whimpy Kid and ate junk food. It was fun cause we were all together. My parents decided we would do family movie night 2 times a month.
— Morgan David, 11, Rockingham Middle School
It was one summer I went to the beach with my family, we walked on the strip and went out to eat. It was so fun, just spending time with my family. Then me and my BFF, her name was Ladaisha, we watched movies with my mom and the movie was called “Hunger Games.” I really, really enjoyed my time with my best friend and then the next day after watching a movie, me and my best friend went to church. Then we hung out all day. Now all I remember was my summer was great!!!
— Nekia Platt, 16, Girls Can! participant