Strengthing Family Relationships
There’s great value in strong family relationships. Strong family relationships help your children know that they’re secure and loved. They help you feel good, too. If you feel like your family relationships are not as strong as they could be, there’s many easy steps you can take to improve them.
Strong family relationships are enjoyable for their own sake. It’s a positive feeling to be in a loving family tied together by strong relationships! But there are many more reasons why strong family relationships are important.
- They make children feel secure. This allows them to feel loved and safe, and it frees them to explore their world.
- They help children overcome learning difficulties, behavior problems, and issues surrounding healthy eating and sleeping.
- They make it easier for your family to resolve conflict and solve problems in all of their relationships, both inside of the the family and outside of it.
- They help you and your children acknowledge and respect differences of opinion that you may encounter. This helps children develop independence as they grow up.
- They give children the tools they’ll need when they leave home so they can start building their own relationships in a strong and healthy way.
It’s always worth looking at the relationships you have with your children and with other family members, because there’s always things you can do to make them stronger.
As a parent, you’re certainly striving to do the best you can for your children. And most likely, you’re doing this while you also work outside the home, manage your household, enjoy relationships with friends, and more. But there are many ways you could help strengthen your family relationships, even if you’re the busiest parent out there!
Strong family relationships are a crucial part of strong families. Strong families grow from love, security, communication, connection–and, of course, rules and routines, too.
Tips for Quality Time
Quality time can happen at any time, and any place. It’s about striving to make the most of the time that your family spends together. Here are some ways you can encourage quality time among the members of your family.
- Use everyday time together to talk and share laughs. For example, a meal together or a routine commute in the car can be a great time to catch up on the day.
- Plan one-on-one chats with each family member. Even just a short conversation before bed can go a long way towards strengthening an individual relationship.
- Set aside time for your partner. Explain to your children that it’s good for your relationship with your partner to have quality time alone together.
- Do regular, fun things together as a family. This can be as simple as a family soccer game at the park on Saturdays, or a family pizza night each week.
- Make decisions together about what to do for special events, such as birthdays, holiday celebrations and vacations. Make sure even young children are part of these decisions.
Strive for Positive Communication
Positive communication is about making the time to listen to each other, listening without judgment, and being open to expressing your own thoughts and feelings.
When you’ve achieved positive communication in your family, every family member will feel understood, respected and valued. This will strengthen all the relationships among all the people in the family.
Consider trying out the following tips in an effort to improve the positivity in the communication among your family members.
- When someone in your family wants to talk to you, do whatever you can to respect that. Stop what you’re doing and listen with your full attention, so you can focus on what they’re saying.
- Be patient and allow your family members to take as much time as they need to express their feelings or their point of view.
- You might, however, find yourself needing to respect their need not to talk. This is true especially with introverts and teenage boys!
- Be open to talking about anything with your family members. This includes even difficult things, such as admitting to mistakes.
- Make sure that your kids feel free to express all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. And remember, talking about feeling angry is different from being angry.
- Always be on the lookout for spontaneous conversations. For example, young children like to talk about their day when they’re getting into bed, or may feel relaxed so they’re ready to talk through their feelings while taking a bath.
- Prepare yourself in advance for the difficult conversations that are certain to occur, especially with teenagers. Families often find it hard to talk calmly and openly about drugs, sex, alcohol, academic difficulties, and financial issues. Those conversations will be easier if you’ve thought through your feelings and values regarding those issues before your children bring them up.
- Use words to show appreciation, love and encouragement to your family members.
- Communicate discipline with patience, love, and understanding.
While a significant proportion of communication happens with words, a good deal of it is non-verbal. This makes it important to pay attention to the feelings that your family members may be expressing without using words. For example, your teenage son might come to you looking for a hug or some cuddles, even though he doesn’t want to talk to you right now!
It’s also critical for you to be aware of the non-verbal messages you are expressing. For example, you can express the message that you want to be close to your children by giving hugs and kisses, and maintaining eye contact when your children are speaking to you. But if you are frowning or using an angry tone of voice when interacting with your children, they will notice, and may interpret it to mean that you aren’t pleased about being with them.
Every member of your family will feel cared for, able to contribute, and supported when the family works together as a team. Making sure that everyone knows where they stand and establishing clear expectations, limits and boundaries can make this family teamwork easier. Family meetings can be a great way to do this. Here are some other ways to encourage family teamwork:
- Even the youngest of children likes the feeling of belonging that comes from making a contribution to the household. So share the workload! A simple chore chart can make the assignments easier.
- Give everyone, again including even the youngest children, a chance to have their say when it comes to making decisions about things like family activities, rules and holidays.
- Start letting children make their own decisions. Of course, do this in an age-appropriate way: the decisions you will allow should involve your children’s abilities and their maturity level, and should be expected to fall within boundaries that you set.
- Create clear family rules that state expectations how family members are expected to treat each other and care for one other. One rule could be, “We always will speak respectfully to each other in this family.” The rules you sets should strive to help everyone get along better, and to make family life peaceful.
- Commit to staying calm while listening, considering options, respecting others’ opinions, finding constructive solutions and working out compromises as you work together to address family issues.
Appreciate Each Other
Caring for each other is at the heart of strong family relationships. It shows that you love and value each other. Here are some suggestions on how you can show appreciation for each other in your family;
- Be interested in each other’s lives. For example, if your son is on the baseball team, make it a regular family outing go to all his home games. Or if your daughter is in the cast of the play, take the family to opening night and make sure everyone signs the card on the bouquet you bring for her. And don’t miss the concerts or choir performances!
- When you’re discussing the highlights of the day, be sure to include every family member in the conversation. For example, when you sit down together at dinner, make it a point to ask each family member to talk about a highlight of their day.
- Help children appreciate things that aren’t obvious or things that they’ve forgotten by sharing family stories and memories together. Pull out the photo albums from when the kids were babies. And take the time moving forward to record stories or memories in some way. Make short and simple interview videos, or make a “memory box” and fill it with mementos with sentimental connections.
- Use words and actions to express appreciation for each other’s talents, abilities and gifts. For example, if an older child is helping a younger sibling with homework, offer the older child sincere appreciation and praise. This will help the older child see himself as you do–caring and helpful.
Strong family relationships will help all family members to feel safe and connected to each other. Families with strong relationships will be able to support each other and positive and respectful ways. Family members with strong relationships to each other will share common goals, and will work together to reach those goals.