What wonderful weather we had this last weekend! After our long hard winter, when the sun finally shines, it feels a little brighter. As the flowers begin to bloom their colors seem a little more vibrant. They smell a little sweeter.
We are all ready to embrace summer. Baseball games, cookouts, picnics and swimming are right around the corner. As we begin to think about our summer schedules and the slots on our calendars begin to fill up, I want to encourage us not to get so busy that we forget to connect as a family.
We live in a society of go and do. Activity and accomplishments are valued over relationships and connecting. Good relationships take time and intention to develop. As summer begins, I want to remind us to intentionally set aside time to connect and build relationship with those who are closest to us—our family.
Even with the best intentions, sitting down and talking as a family is challenging. When children are asked how their day went, we are lucky if we get, “FINE!” or “Good!”
So how do we really sit down and get each other to talk and truly connect with each other as a family? Couples that have attended our RINGS class learn a tool called a RINGS chat. This tool helps couples to connect and communicate on a daily basis. We have adjusted this tool a little so that it can be used with families, as they seek to communicate and connect with each other. It’s called a GRIN chat.
As a family, set aside a regular time to have a GRIN chat. It can be around the table at a meal, right before bedtime, while you are waiting for soccer practice to start or any other time that works for your family. That’s the key. Finding what works for your family.
The structure of a GRIN chat is this:
“G” is for grateful. Each person answers the question, “What are you grateful for today?” This encourages a thankful attitude. Studies show that thankful people are happier people. Together as a family, we pause and acknowledge what God has done for us today. We have the opportunity to thank each other for acts of kindness throughout the day. It takes our eyes off of what we don’t have and focuses on what we do have.
“R” is for real. Each person answers the question, “How are you feeling?” One little ground rule: “Fine” or “good” is not an answer. Each person tries to give a little more than just fine or good. For children it might be helpful to print a chart of emotion faces that you can find on the internet.
Then a child can choose a face. It’s helpful to know if someone is feeling sad or angry or frustrated as you interact throughout the day. Knowing that ahead of time can save some conflict or misunderstanding later.
“I” is for intentions or information. Each person answers the question, “What are your plans for today, tomorrow, the next few days?” This gives everyone an opportunity to get on the same page. Expectations are communicated and surprises are avoided later. Many conflicts are over unmet expectations. As plans are shared, other details such as transportation or scheduling conflicts can be worked out. This also helps the family to be supportive and aware of what each member is involved in.
“N” is for needs. Each person answers the question, “What do you need from us?”
This question helps each family member to be more assertive, asking for what they need. Assertiveness is an important life skill. None of us are mind readers and asking for what you need is an important communication skill. This also helps avoid the last minute poster board that’s needed for the 4H project. Family teamwork is developed as needs are shared and the family works together to meet those needs.
Normally the GRIN chat ends with “N”. But I might suggest that this summer we make it a GRINS chat. The “S” is for summer. Each person completes the statement, “This summer I would like US to …” This gives the family an opportunity to dream together. It might be surprising to see what the different family members would like to do together. New memories will be made together and relationships will be strengthened.
I challenge you to try to make the GRINS chat a routine part of your family this summer. I think you will be surprised at the benefits that your family will experience. A renewed sense of “us”—teamwork and connectedness will result as your family takes the time to communicate with each other.
For more information about the GRINS chat, stop by the Marriage Resource Center booth at First Fridays in Xenia. Our activities will center on the GRINS chat. We look forward to connecting with you!
Becki Robinson, is the co-director of the Marriage Resource Center, Greene County office, Becki@mrcmv.org.