(Stock photo) Laughter bonds you as a family and makes your home a more comfortable, pleasant place to be.
Have a Happy 2009... All Year Long
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FEBRUARY 02, 2009
Craig Harris, HappyNews Columnist

It’s a new year and a fresh start. A time for us to stop and reflect how to be better parents in 2009. Here are five resolutions for this new year:
1. Spend more quality time with your children than you ever have. I say this every year and have no plan to stop. There is just no substitute for this. Children spell love T-I-M-E. We can tell them we love them all day long, buy them material things, and provide for their every (other) need, but we’ll fall short this year if we don’t find a way to spend good, quality time with them. This means unfettered time. Planned time is not the same. Our children need some time with us that is unscripted – when they can take the lead in the conversion.
I’m not suggesting we let our kids dictate our every moment or conversation, but giving them large scoops of our down time is a wonderful gift. I’ve found some of the best bonding I’ve done with my children comes in these moments. They know we really love them when they come into the living room and we turn off the TV. Try it in 2009 and see what happens.
2. Laugh with your kids more this year than you did in 2008. In our busy lives, we may simply forget to do this. But we shouldn’t. Laughter bonds you as a family and makes your home a more comfortable, pleasant place to be. You want your kids to want to be around you. Sometimes we have to be deliberate about these things. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a good laugh together, do something about it. How do your children view you, as someone who is somber and serious all the time, or as a joyful person who is optimistic about life, has a good sense of humor, and a good balanced outlook?
3. Plan, then take a trip or two together this year. It’s tough in a down economy to spend the money that trips require, but it’s money well spent. Some of our family’s favorite memories are made on vacations and trips. Remember, we can’t go back in time and do things together, so we have to take advantage of the time we are given today. We can’t (or shouldn’t) spend what we don’t have, so this can be a challenge, but a challenge we should accept. In our home, we tend to take shorter, cheaper trips, but the point is to have some fun, do something together, and make some memories.
4. Watch your tongue in 2009. Know that your children are watching and they will catch your morals, values and faith. If you say your faith is important to you, but demonstrate with your actions that it is not, they will follow what they see, not what you say. How is your language in traffic? How well do you treat your spouse? How do you speak of people who are different?
5. Make sure your children feel connected this year. Researchers are finding out how important this is and families are in prime position to take full advantage of the benefits. We were designed to be connected. Nothing is more important in our lives than our relationships. We must feel that we belong. We must feel connected, loved and cared-for. That’s what family is all about. But we have to be deliberate this year to make sure our children feel welcomed in their own homes.
Let’s work on these goals this year so our families will have the best year ever.
You may contact Craig Harris through his blog at: lcraigharris.blogspot.com