Generation We

Photography by: Dominick Guillemot
NaturalHealthMag.com

5. Build a village For all the connections technology has brought us, social isolation can still be an issue. “Many nuclear families lack the support of extended family members, who often live thousands of miles away, and children grow up barely knowing grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins,” says Wedge. But these relatives add so much value to kids’ lives. “Young children are thrilled to spend time with extended family, and teenagers especially may discover they have a lot in common with an eccentric aunt or curmudgeonly grandfather,” says Ungar, who suggests sending kids to stay with relatives, even for an overnight visit, and simply talking about your life with them. “Sharing stories of those crazy childhood experiences you had makes children feel they are part of a larger family with its own unique history,” Ungar notes. Get to know other people in your community as well. “Neighbors, family friends and other children’s parents can make kids feel they belong,” Ungar says. “It’s like placing your child in a hall of mirrors. In every direction he looks, he sees something different about himself reflected back.” Begin by teaching kids to say hello to waitresses, bus drivers and new neighbors. Then, encourage children to help you around the house, as well as assisting other friends and acquaintances with everyday tasks and odd jobs. “When you expect children to participate as full members of the community—including with chores in your own household—you give them a sense of responsibility and connection,” Ungar notes. “It makes them realize that they are important, that they have something to contribute and that they’re part of a world that truly needs and values them.”