Power-Decade Parenting

Family Friday: The 20-Foot Rule

Published about 2 months ago • 2 min read

Family Friday Newsletter - 2.5 min read

by: Finley Robinson

A Single Sentence from a Season Ahead

"Your children need to see you and your spouse being husband & wife, not just mom & dad.

The Proximity Problem

On Christmas day this year, our family had a Clark Griswold moment. We enjoyed a bit of nostalgia when I grabbed the old video camera and watched some early-stage home movies.

The big kids were 2 & 3 years old. Everyone in the living room smiled, ooed, and laughed as we re-watched the chaos of our young family.

When kids are little, life is full of piles: toys, clothes, and bodies too. Wrestling on the floor and dog-piling on the bed.

I have vague memories of those days, full of piles, but it was good to see it through the grainy replay of a miniDV tape.

The early years of kids have a high level of family proximity. You are physically close to each other and together a lot! So much so that my wife and I would often disappear, without warning, into our own house for some time away.

This happened during the first half of our power-decade of parenting. Something begins to happen in the second half though, and it increases even more once you have a home full of teenagers.

Everyone separates into their own corners of life. Family proximity evaporates as separate sports, schedules, and different interests emerge. If you have kids under 10, I'm sure you'd love fewer bodies around you at all times. Later on, you'll have to work hard to be close together.

Something my wife and I learned, as our kids approached double digits, was that we needed to re-create piling together. The secret was not letting our kids know that it was on purpose.

The 20-Foot Rule

This was a loose approach that we used in our home. As more and more of our time went to individual opportunities, we needed to re-create family proximity situations.

What that looked like was getting the whole family within 20 feet of each other. Yes, there are meal times and I believe they are the best and lowest-hanging fruit but there are other ways to get the family within 20 feet. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • The Board Game Table - When everyone gathers around for a short card game or long board game, it creates family energy.
  • The Hot Tub - Whether on vacation or at home, sitting super close together for a few minutes creates opportunities for fun conversations.
  • The Campground Tent - It's not for everyone, but piling together in a tent for the night makes special family memories.
  • The Living Room Fire - When the temperatures drop, a warm fire is certain to bring everyone out of their rooms to huddle around together.
  • The Family Van - Road trips get easier as kids get older and travel time together on the road can be special.
  • The Ski Lift - What better way to chat as a family than on the 10-minute ride to the top of the mountain?
  • The Summer Boat - A family favorite of ours because everyone is packed in, enjoying the sun, and listening to music.
  • The Park Picnic Table - Whether it's sandwiches or drive-thru, sitting together at the picnic table causes everyone to open up.

The 20-Foot Rule was our approach to remaking those early years of family proximity. We often didn't have a real agenda. As our kids got a little older, putting everyone within arms reach of each other, usually produced that reconnection that we all needed.

So as your kids grow up, find your favorite ways to pile back together. There are so many sweet and simple outcomes when you do.

Tell stories.
Ask fun questions.
Talk about your past.
Dream about the future.

See you next Friday,

The 3-Part Family Framework

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Power-Decade Parenting

By Finley Robinson

Helping propel moms & dads of 3 to 13 year-olds to invest in their power-decade of parenting. Father of 3 teenagers and pastor of 20 years turned digital writer.

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