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Vicky Bowker Jeter

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Family Bonding for Life
By Vicky Bowker Jeter   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, July 01, 2006
Posted: Saturday, October 25, 2003

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The aim of this article is to spark the idea of conscious bonding in the minds and hearts of family members, and to offer ideas for tools to practice bondig as a foundation for strengthening families.

What is bonding? And, why is bonding important? Bonding is that essential sense of connection and belonging that occurs between people during significant life events such as
birth, death, shared challenges and celebrations, etc. Any experience which inspires personal emotion and is shared between or among people carries the potential for bonding. Understanding the significance between the "potential" for bonding, and the frequency and feeling of bonding that people actually experience personally is one key to strengthening bonds and the quality of bonds in our relationships. Bonding is important because consistent feelings of "connectedness" and "belonging" can greatly enhance overall quality of life for people on a day-to-day basis individually, in our families, and in society as a whole. An enhanced sense of bonding in a person's life can have significant positive influence on physical and emotional health, and perspectives in approaching challenges and decisions, for example.
So, what are some simple ways we can consciously increase our sense of connectedness and belonging in every day living? One of the most foundational and strongest means of bonding that we have access to all the time is eye-contact. For example, if you are at the graduation of a loved-one with your family there is a tremendous amount of shared emotion the moment the graduate crosses the stage; if, in that moment the graduate is able to make eye contact with you, it deepens the feeling in a way that neither of you will likely ever forget.
Another way that families can create unique bonds that will last is consciously recognizing special characteristics of the family and celebrating them with each other--for example heritage and customs that come into the family from relatives, past or present, in other countries. Intentionally making time to discover stories and the origin of certain words or actions and sharing them, particularly with children. While contemplating this article, I read a wonderful story about a father who, when his twin sons were born, decided to reconnect with his lost original language by speaking to his infant sons only in German. Thus, he grew back into the language, and all of his own character woven in that language only, with his boys. The unique richness this brought to his relationship with his sons over the years went far beyond the natural gift of a second language.
In significant moments, obvious and maybe not so obvious, practice making eye contact with the people involved in the moment. Discover the stories that lead to who you and your family are, and practice sharing them--listening or telling. These are just a couple of examples. If the "idea" of bonding becomes a planted seed for you, before you know it you will find more ways than you have imagined to connect to people and your world.

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/27/2004
enjoyed the read

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