The structure of families varies, but one thing is, or rather should be, common for them all – family members share healthy emotional bonds, core values and responsibilities. The importance of healthy family relationships is insurmountable, because we build our whole lives around them. For children, healthy family relationships are the source of love and security necessary for growth and development, and for building their own relationships as adults. Additionally, having a strong foundation of healthy relationships within the family is not just key to a positive family life, but also the crucial factor to overcoming any sort of family issue. Here are some tips on keeping and nourishing healthy relationships within your family.
Quality time can happen anywhere
The emphasis on family quality time is longstanding. But many parents fall into the trap of stressing a designated time and ignoring the tiny bits and pieces of everyday life that can also make great quality time. Any time you spend together can be used to talk and share a moment. It’s important to do regular things together as a family, and it doesn’t have to be anything monumental – game night or a walk to the park make for great quality time as well. Also, individual relationships need to be established and strengthened, so any time you’re alone with a family member, for example during a car ride, use it to catch up and talk.
It can be difficult to always keep up positive, open communication in the chaos of everyday life. That’s why it’s crucial for parents to be very mindful of the relationships within their family and evaluate communication every once in a while. Always keep in mind the key points of positive communication:
- When somebody in the family wants to talk, give them your full and undivided attention, listen and give them time to express their thoughts. Especially with younger children, be prepared for spontaneous talks about feelings when you really don’t expect it. Never turn them down.
- Always express your appreciation, love and encouragement. Don’t be thrifty with words. Simple praise will also delight and encourage family members to strive to do their best.
- Non-verbal communication is of huge importance, so don’t refrain from showing your affection. Go in for a big hug every once in a while – especially with teenagers who’re not eager to talk, because this will be their source of comfort.
- Be open; don’t allow for your family members to avoid saying something to you because they fear your reaction. Establish an environment where it’s normal to talk about difficult things, admit mistakes or point out to family members that they’re doing something wrong. Anything can be constructively talked about if everyone included collects their thoughts first, all arguments are given with reasoning, and there’s no shouting or insults.
Relationships among parents
As we mentioned, families vary in structure, but it’s important whenever possible that the relationship between parents is maintained. John Gottman, a renowned marital expert suggests couples with children need to spend at least five hours weekly doing something together – without children and without chores. That way, they can maintain their relationship as the foundation of the family.
This is the ideal situation, but what about divorced couples or those facing separation? Co-parenting in these cases can still keep the family values and structure strong, so don’t refrain from seeking mediation services if communication with your partner gets scruffy. Get help whenever necessary, because it’s all for the ultimate goal of raising your children in a healthy environment. If you’re raising a family on your own without a partner, relying on a strong support base of relatives and friends will provide significant help.
When you nurture a team-like attitude within your family, keeping up healthy relationships is much easier and effective. Teamwork is, in fact, the basis of a strong family and this type of attitude sets a sound example for your children.
Establish team rules, such as “We divide our chores fairly”, “We speak respectfully to each other in this family”, “We use words to solve issues” etc. This will make for a peaceful family life and teach your children important values from a young age. Family meetings are a great example of keeping the team spirit that all members contribute to. Working as a team also entails giving your children (including the younger ones) a voice – it’s important to include them in decisions that are related to them, giving them a chance to have their say. It shows you are maintaining a respectful, open environment and will consequently contribute to your child’s problem-solving skills and individual thinking.
Everyday life is full of mundane moments, but don’t let this reality undermine the importance of working on your family relationships. It’s constant work, but it becomes a habit that’s most rewarding.