Family Day is the Most Important Day of the Year!

By Nikki Taylor, RECE
Senior Manager, Early Years and Family Support
Oakville Parent-Child Centre

Once upon a time there were 52 “family days” in a year.

Imagine…..children, parents, grandparents, friends and family gathered together to share food, play and enjoy each other’s company. There were no agendas, few distractions, no particular place to go, and people were together.

Some of you may remember these days. They were known as Sundays. Yes, for those of you much younger than me; let me explain. Sunday was a day when stores and businesses were closed; many people did not work; technology was just in sci-fi movies; and for that one day –  every week the world slowed enough to allow a focus on family and friends. We created memories, relationships and traditions that became the glue that held us all together. One of my favorite memories of Sundays is the long drives we took with no particular destination. They were always an adventure in the making.

Fast forward and I must say, I find it a bit ironic that we now have a declared a holiday devoted to the most important thing we can do – spend quality, connected time with our loved ones. On the usually frosty February Family Day, we slow down and we give ourselves permission to tune in, focus, put the distractions away – and have a little fun together.

If you think about it, couldn’t every day be a little more like Family Day?

Here are a few simple things that you could try to keep that family day feeling going

  1. Slow down (even just a little). Carl Honore, Canadian journalist and author of In Praise of Slow (Vintage Canada 2009),  speaks persuasively in his TED talk In Praise of Slowness
  2. Share a family meal together as often as you can: Need to know why? Check out the Family Dinner Project for recipes, conversation starters and for you information junkies, lots of research on the benefits.
  3. Believe in the power of relationships. You are your children’s first and most important teacher. Check out Halton’s very own Family Relationships Matter video featuring local families.
  4. The family that plays together stays together. This Psychology Today article by Peter Gray, research professor and author of Free to Learn (Basic Books, 2013), offers 5 important ways to know if it is really play.
  5. Connection is the key. Check out this Zero to Five commentary and learn more about the connect before you direct approach and invite more connection and cooperation from your children.
  6. Empathy goes a long way to bringing us closer to children and adults alike. Brene Brown is a researcher, professor and speaker on topics such as vulnerability, courage, and authenticity. Check out her video for some humorous insight.
  7. Love and parent with authenticity and a soft heart. Learn more from Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.

Your children are miracles, gifted to you for a very short time. Enjoy them, learn from them and hold them dear. Trust and believe in yourselves and each other. You are truly all your children need.

My challenge to you – create as many “family days” in 2018 as you can. What will your “once upon a time” stories be?

Happy Birthday Canada! Top 10 reasons why Canada is a Great Asset-Builder!

By Mary Tabak, Our Kids Network Developmental Assets Manager

Asset-building in Halton has evolved and now encompasses Developmental Assets, Family Assets and Relationships. We don’t need to look any further than our own country for great examples of asset-building:

  1. Canada knows that small things like pond hockey, neighbourhood barbeques and nature walks make a big difference.
  2. Canada is a caring and responsible role model for other countries.
  3. Canada plays nicely and builds strong and respectful friendships with other countries.
  4. Canada understands that health, education and safety are important.
  5. Canada’s music, arts and dance scene is celebrated and supported.
  6. Canada welcomes and embraces people’s differences. It strives to create environments where people belong.
  7. Canada resolves conflicts peacefully.
  8. Canada offers adventure and new experiences through its beautiful landscapes and its unpredictable weather patterns.
  9. Canada practices democracy and freedom of speech. Communication in Canada is very polite.
  10. Canada likes itself. It is valued by others as a great destination and is highly embraced by others when it travels.

Canada didn’t get like this by accident. It was the work of careful and intentional planning in an environment of partnership and collaboration. For Canada’s birthday this year, let’s reflect on the strengths that make us all a great asset-builders for Halton kids.

Happy Birthday Canada and keep up the great work!

For more information, resources and ideas about asset-building, visit the Asset-Building Toolkit.

Follow us @OurKidsNetwork #ABOKN17

150 ways to show kids you care! Canada Day and every day! http://bit.ly/1PAppsy

A Mother’s Day Message

By Kathleen Callan

Kathleen and Bruce Callan just celebrated their 23rd anniversary. As a blended family, they have two children each from previous marriages, two boys and two girls, who are now 25 to 43-years-old, and three grandchildren. They are a proud foster family that has cared for many teens in the past five years, and are looking forward to their next experience of providing a loving home to a young person at a time of need. 


Oprah Winfrey once proclaimed that, “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”

Although biology may be a component, it does not necessarily have to be. Mothers are women who embrace children to become part of their lives and live in their very souls. They nurture children –  whether their biological child; a niece; a nephew; a grandchild; a distant relative; an adopted child, a foster child, or a child who is in need and is embraced simply when paths cross.  Mothers are women who are there for us at all times when no one else will do. They nurture us through our years to help us become stronger, brighter, and happier human beings. They pick us up when we fall. They seem to know when we need them, and when we can manage on our own. They teach us values to live by even when we don’t want to listen. They are our strength when we need them most. They stand beside us when the world seems too big for us to bear. They give us strength to keep trying. They listen to all our stories with intent, no matter how silly they are. They are our rock, our confidant, our grounding, and our sanctuary.

All too often, mothers sacrifice their own desires to give us ours. Some say it is a thankless job, but as a mother myself, I beg to differ. The times I have spent with my children span the good, the bad and the really ugly, but I am thanked every time I see my children succeed. I am grateful every time I see their excitement, enthusiasm, and awe of the world. It touches my soul to hear their laughter and breaks my heart to see them cry.

Even though I know I have given them the strength to get through all of life’s ordeals, I stand by each day in case my children need me because my love for them never ends. Now I watch from a distance and I see that they have the strength, the values and the perseverance to carry on. And the cycle of life repeats itself as I can see the values I instilled in my children built upon with their own children.

So, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, remember we are celebrating all those moms who have touched the hearts of children, and have helped them, or are helping them, to grow and become adults with aspirations, hopes and the will to succeed at whatever they set out to do.

So from one mom to many others “Happy Mother’s Day”!

“These two snowmobile daredevils are my granddaughter and me!
We love spending time together as a family. We had a blast that day in the snow at our cottage!”  -Kathleen Callan


Read more about the Callan family.

Celebrating the Vibrant Lives of Families Video 

Families are central to the positive development and success of children and youth and are at the heart of thriving communities. Three Halton families shared stories of challenges, successes and love in this special video. The Callans and their foster son, Kyle, are one of those special families. View the video.

Fast Forward…

To celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday May 8, OKN director, Elena DiBattista shares her thoughts on children and grandchildren, and the relationships that shape them as they grow up.

By Elena DiBattista,  Our Kids Network director

“What kind of adult do I want my child to be?” This is an important question for every mom, especially as our children are growing up. Do we want them to be happy, self-assured, creative, fun, and honest? Will they have solid, supportive relationships, a strong sense of belonging and be reliable, good people? Do we want them to have strong connections to family and friends, be independent, make solid decisions, and handle the bumps and barriers? These are questions that I asked myself when my eldest child was a toddler, and that have also helped me determine how to respond in the many situations and scenarios that involved parenting my children. Continue reading

Strong relationships build strong children and youth

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Relationships Matter to Halton professionals 

At the Our Kids Network Relationship Forum on February 25th, Halton professionals heard from Dr. Debra Pepler, Scientific Co-Director of PREVNet, that building strong and meaningful relationships is the most important thing we can do to promote positive child and youth development. Continue reading