You know that nifty list of adventures you hope to
experience before you kick the proverbial bucket? Your family can
have a "bucket list," too.
Perhaps your gang wants to raft down the Colorado River,
join a family bowling league or simply read the classics together.
Is it a trip to Disney your children long for or are they Bears
fans who've never seen Soldier Field? Do your environmentally savvy
kids talk about planting vegetable gardens and recycling rain water
in a quest to become more self-sustaining, or is this the year
you'll finally begin that family tradition of seeing the Nutcracker
ballet each holiday season? Maybe you simply want to remember to go
apple picking with your children each fall before they're all
gone-the apples and your children.
Every now and then I'm reminded that my kids won't be
children forever. In no time at all they'll be adults, scattering
like maple seeds on the wind, with their own compasses to follow.
But before they do, I want to make sure we collaborate and create
memories together-whether it's figuring out how to bake bread from
scratch or learning how to ski.
Whether your family's bucket list includes building houses
with Habitat for Humanity, wrangling your family photos into
scrapbooks, zip-lining through a jungle in Costa Rica or simply
collecting enough board games at yard sales to have regular "family
fun nights," how will you make it happen?
At your next family meeting, brainstorm your gang's game
plan. Will your dreams come true after a summer of lemonade stands
and a year of saving loose change in a mason jar or should you also
open a savings account earmarked for your project, with funds
directly deposited from your paycheck? My son recently announced
that he wishes someday for us to own a rustic camp on a lake
somewhere. I can see the rope swing in my mind's eye, but making it
a reality might require a major restructuring of our family's
This sounds like work, so why bother?
The benefits of consciously creating a bucket list with
your family are numerous. Brainstorming and agreeing upon common
goals, devising plans and putting them into action inspires
children to dream and to problem-solve cooperatively. It teaches
them that they "can," which builds confidence and self-esteem. This
process also teaches kids how to adjust expectations and live
within limits if the limits are truly insurmountable. This shows
them there's almost always a plan B-which inspires resilience.
Moreover, sharing and working toward a common goal will give your
children a sense of your family's purpose, hope and confidence in
your shared future and a reason to keep dreaming.
Whether you're the family who bowls or fishes or reads or
hikes mountain trails together-and it doesn't matter if you're
conquering the Appalachian Trail or just a path around your
neighborhood-what matters is that you're doing it
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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