The old adage of the "family that plays together, stays together" rings so true when we are talking about having a harmonious home. The key to building a strong family is simple: Spend time together! How you spend time or the amount of time spent together is not as important as just doing it on a consistent basis.
Research has demonstrated that children who have a close relationship with their parents are more likely to resist peer pressures that want to seduce them into illegal substance use and criminal acts. The foundations of a healthy conscience and a moral code have direct links to a warm and loving attachment to a parenting figure.
There is no magic to developing a close relationship with children. Parents can institute daily or weekly traditions or rituals for time spent together. The content of the time may vary as children get older and their interests change but the need for time together will not change. Have a regular movie night or nightly book reading. Celebrate birthdays and special events. Attend church services and social events together. Offer to volunteer together at a homeless shelter or fundraising event. Take walks or play games. And never forget the importance of just talking with a child in the car or at the dinner table. Ask them about their day and then "be quiet" while they talk. Nothing shuts down a child like judgmental responses or unwanted advice.
A lot of parents tell me that their teens don't want to spend time together with them. That may be what they say, on the outside, but that does not mean they don't need to spend time with their parents. The type of activities that they are interested in may change
but their need for positive adult interaction does not stop. The emotional roller coaster of adolescence requires as much, if not more, parental guidance. A softer, more patient approach to time spent together will be required for teenagers. Make every effort to engage them in conversations about life and their views of it without judgment. You will be surprised at the amount of information you get from these informal discussions. At this point you can lovingly and gently offer alternatives and more thought provoking ideas. Teens need to feel that your ideas are really their ideas or they will often reject them outright.
Whatever you do, don't let work, society, or your child's age become a barrier to spending time with your child. Quality and quantity time are the keys to building a strong, harmonious home.