Focus on Building Strong Relationships
You love it when family members visit. If visits are regular it becomes the norm to not expect any gifts. However, when visits occur during the holidays like Independence Day or Christmas or during special occasions like a birthday or graduation material things become expected. This could be a result of family tradition or societal expectations. Family members expect toys, games, clothes and shoes, and sometimes money too. However, if the central focus of the visits is on material things members are not building strong interpersonal relationships. Families develop negative habits by comparing gifts received to those from past years or from other family members. This also involves forming an entitlement attitude where gifts become an obligation instead of being a privilege. However, by switching the focus to recreation, hobbies and events members will value you as a person and respect your time and attention. You will also notice an increase in confidence and self-esteem levels of everyone.
Test Your Own Family
To test if your family welcomes you based on your gift then at your next family visit do not carry the gifts with you. Instead you could have them brought over by a friend or shipped to arrive a few days after you get there. Then when you show up at their homes watch their faces carefully to see if they still feel great to see you or act disappointed. Some might walk away to get back to whatever activities they were engaging in. You can wait even further to see if they will ask if you brought gifts or if it becomes the center of the conversation. Later, after you have made enough observations then you can let them know that gifts are coming and then watch their expressions then.
Family members that visit very often are a part of everyday life. However, for persons that live far away then seeing them becomes a special event. These visits usually take place during the holidays when they can get time off from work. For e.g. some popular holidays are Christmas Day, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving Day. There are also special occasions when family members feel obligated to visit such as during a birthday, graduation or wedding celebrations.
When families visit each other material things are usually a way of expressing love. However, if it becomes an expectation then the focus is on the amount of money spent instead of the time and effort that went into purchasing the gifts. Some popular examples of gifts are cameras, smartphones, sports equipment, toys, video games, jewellery. Older family members usually receive gift cards or money.
When the focus is on material things members use the monetary value of the gifts to grade visits. Hence, family members compare the things that they receive to those that they got in the past years. They might also compare items to those received from others or those owned by friends or neighbours. They might even develop an entitlement attitude and view these material things as an obligation. If nothing is given or they do not get what they expected then they become angry, disappointed and might even ignore members during the visit. Therefore, this causes little or no interpersonal relationships to develop. Interpersonal relationships focus on treating each person as an important member of the group, communicating with each other, having trust in each other and showing commitment to the well-being of that person. Hence, without it the family is not really bonding with each other.
In order to get each member to focus on the time and effort that it takes you to visit, then do not focus on material things. While you can choose to bring gifts occasionally practice on engaging with each other. This means participating in activities or hobbies such as playing board games, creating scrapbooks, using art and craft supplies, telling stories from your past or reading from a story book. You can also go out to the concerts, museums, parks or to sports games. This would help each other to learn and grow. Use your money, time and effort for building up talents, skills and life experiences. These would strengthen interpersonal relationships and each member would have more self-confidence and better self-esteem levels.
You cherish every visit that you take to see your family members. You also took the time and effort to bring gifts for them. However, you do not want them to consider your visit worthwhile only when you bring material things. Instead, skip the gift giving sometimes when you visit during the holidays or on special occasions. Instead focus on communicating, and participating in recreation, hobbies and events. These will help to build stronger interpersonal relationships which in turn will increase the level of confidence and esteem for each family member.