Teaching My Extended Family How to Implement Special Time

(Reposted Article from HandinHandParenting.org 3/2015)

As winter break approached this year I found myself worried about the interactions my kids would have with the plethora of adults who would be coming in for the holidays. In an effort to keep things kid-focused and give my children the kind of individualized time they had grown so accustomed to since we began Parenting by Connection I enlisted the help of my family.

Many weeks prior to our 12-person family invasion I emailed the group describing to them our successes with Parenting by Connection, especially with regard to Special Time. In my email I asked our family members to try and spend at least 20 individualized minutes with each of my kids over the three days they were all in town.

The weeks leading to the visit I spent a good amount of time with my various Listening Partners exploring all of my fears around holidays. Including all of my less than perfect experiences as a kid. This helped me clear my feelings, to some degree, so I could come to the holidays with more calm.

Right before the family arrived I sent out a second email with a small description of Special Time. By the end of the three days everyone had spent time with the girls! They actually did it. When I saw my kids were feeling left out I would ask if anyone wanted to be a playmate and I would always get a volunteer. In the end I believe my adult family members actually enjoyed their Special Time with the kids. I think they began to form real bonds with my girls. The girls were so happy and at ease during the visit, with adults interested in them you could tell they felt known and valued. It was amazing. My kids and I had a great visit with our family. Sometimes if you just ask for what you need you will actually get it!