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Diane Miller - Healthy families spend time together

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Posted: April 5, 2008 1:39 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    Strong, healthy and resilient families spend lots of time together. Each family needs quantity as well as quality time. Active lifestyles of today take away valuable time and create family stress. According to Dolores Curran, family columnist, you can tell if your family stress level is high if your family feels:
    - a continual sense of urgency and hurry; no time to release and relax
    - an underlying tension that causes lots of sharp words, sibling quarrels and marital misunderstandings
    - a preoccupation to escape to one’s room, car, garage, out to lunch; a constant feeling of frustration about not getting things done
    - a sense that time is passing too quickly; that children are growing up too fast
    - and a nagging desire to find a simpler life.
    Strong families realize their stress level and do something about it. Research shows that it is characteristic of healthy families to plan or schedule family time and to make it a priority, not just a fill-in when by chance there is time. They realize that quantity and quality goes hand in hand.
    Scheduling may be necessary but that does not mean that the time should be mechanical. It’s hard to force quality time. In fact we usually do not know that an activity has been a quality experience until after the fact and someone remembers it fondly.
    Enjoying each other’s company and playing and laughing together are also indications of a healthy family. Healthy families do not necessarily spend money on their play. They find ways to be together that are free or low cost like backyard picnics, hikes and park playground.
    Spending time together is an important facet of family life. Each family has only 10,080 minutes in a week. Spending time together may be one of the easiest family strengths to practice if we try.

    For more information on healthy family functioning, call Diane at (912) 871-0504, dianem@uga.edu or www.ugaextension.com/bulloch.
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