A focus on the family

by Katelin Whiddon

Family. It’s one of the very first things we are given at birth. But the word “family” can have many different meanings to different people. Overall, family has a positive connotation, whether it be the family you were born into or a person or group that became your family for any variety of reasons.

Research has shown that spending time with loved ones improves health. Some of these health benefits include decreasing stress and loneliness, increasing happiness and social skills, increasing the emotional/familial bond and improving the development of your children.

As parents, we should be mindful of how we treat our significant other also. Children learn how to treat others and how they allow others to treat them from what they experience in the home during childhood. We should show love, patience and warmth in our homes to influence our children now and later in life.

There are endless ways you can spend time with your family. Volunteering, going for a walk/bike ride, going to the park, washing your car, attending sporting events, letting children help cook/bake and vacations — even weekend getaways — are all great ways you can spend quality time with your children without electronics getting in the way. Whatever ways you can find to disconnect from distractions and focus on your family will prove to be beneficial.

Communication in the home is absolutely vital. Talk to your child about their day — their highs and lows. Encourage them, support them and train them in the way they should go. Children who have good communication in the home are more likely to be successful academically and less involved in violent activities.

Try to sit down and have dinner as a family together. Spring and summer are particularly busy times of the year and families aren’t around the dinner table every night. But when you are home, try to make it a routine to sit together as a family to eat and discuss your day and anything else that may come up. This is a great opportunity to guide your children and be involved in their daily lives.

A dear couple in my life has implemented a family night each week. Their children are grown and out of the house, but they know that this one night of the week, they go back to their parents’ home for dinner, games, movies, etc. and spend that time together. We should all work toward something like this — from the time our children are babies until they’re adults with their own home — try to regularly schedule time together and enjoy each other’s company.

Families come in many different shapes and sizes and are bursting with different personalities, but they all share at least one common denominator — love. And while we may not always like our family, we always love.


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has worked previously in pediatrics.