Strangest headline ever? I have something really profound to share with you about traditions. Let me back up a few years to when my children were much smaller and I was learning the power of connection.

I first came across the words “parent/child connectedness” in the late 90s when I was researching sexual purity for teen girls. It turns out that across the board—more than any other factor—parent/child connectedness was the strongest risk reducer for teen sexual activity. That had my ear. I wanted to know more.

Parent/child connectedness is defined as being closely bonded by common traditions and frequently occurring activities. I think a good definition of it would be “intentional togetherness.” It’s eating dinner five or more times a week as a family, as opposed to eating on the run or in front of the television every night. It’s heading to Grammy’s for a Resurrection Sunday egg hunt. It’s heading out to the local laser tag arena to challenge your tweens to a sweaty game of parents vs. kids, when a bathtub with bubbles sounds like a lot more fun.

Parent/child connectedness is playing with, cooking with, camping with, and studying with your child. Quality time? A myth! Our kids need quantity—that comes with great quality here and there.

Through the years, the parent/child connectedness efforts of Bob and Dannah Gresh have changed a lot (with a few exceptions such as eating dinner together and going to church together). When the kids were in preschool and early elementary school, we connected with visits to Meramec Springs or Lions Club Parks, a swimming pool in the backyard of our Rolla, Missouri, home, and tenderly tucking them into bed each night. With a house full of three coming and going young adult children, we now connect with Sunday morning breakfast at the Waffle Shop, trail rides when the kids are home, and surviving Bob’s “raft of death” as he tries to throw us from it while driving his speed boat around Raystown Lake. (And we always end a day at the lake with a stop at The Meadows for frozen custard.)

Connecting is intentional togetherness—and a lot of it—that shows up in your families own unique activities.

Making and taking the time to invest in your children through doing activities together has long term benefits; rest assured that you’re building a healthy future for your children.

Be encouraged if you have traditions in place. And it’s not too late to start some if you don’t.

This content is based on material in Six Ways To Keep The Little In Your Girl by Dannah Gresh. 

{Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on MomLife Today in April 2014.}

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  1. That was a funny title. Lol. So true, though. Constantly connecting as a family is precious.