Family Life

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Strong Family Life

Encourage all family members to share their thoughts and feelings. Strong families allow all family members – no matter how young or small – to talk about their thoughts and feelings. This does not mean that members are not respectful of one another, but rather that feelings and ideas are respected. Everyone should be expected to express themselves in appropriate ways – such as with “I” messages. When people feel heard and respected, they feel better about themselves, are more open to solving problems, and are more likely to allow others to express themselves.

Strong families spend time together. In today’s busy world it can be difficult for families to find time to be together. All relationships need attention – and this includes the family as a whole. Family rituals can offer a set time for families to get together and give each other the attention that is needed.

A family ritual is simply a time that is set aside on a regular basis for a family to get together.

This can mean having dinner together, celebrating a holiday together, going to church together, or just going for a walk together every week. It is important that the family ritual be predictable and that other activities are not allowed to offset it. Family rituals help define who is in our family and who we are as a family. It allows time for the family to get together, to share experiences with one another, and to reconnect with each other. Knowing that the family will have time together can help us deal with those times when we are apart. Even though parents may work, children can know that each evening, each weekend (or whenever works for your family) they will have some “special time” with you.

Every child is special and every child needs some special time when he can have his parent all to himself. Giving your child some “special time” helps develop a close relationship with your child. Consider setting aside some time – perhaps 15 minutes – for each child each week. (Better, 15 minutes each day, if that is possible.) Make it a predictable ritual so that the child can depend on it and look forward to this time with you. Be sure that this “special time” is not easily interrupted by other activities. For example, don’t answer the phone during this time. Allow your child to help you decide how to spend this time. You could read books, sing songs, go for a walk, play a game – or whatever your child enjoys. The more you are able to spend “special time” with your child the stronger your relationship will be. Look for opportunities to connect with your child. 

Although setting aside time with your child is important, also look for small moments that you can use to connect with your child. You can make up stories together while doing chores, talk about concerns while on the way to the grocery store, read a book together while waiting for dinner to finish.

We often think we have to wait for our “special time” but all these small moments help us stay connected in between the more scheduled times.

Suggestions to attain better family life:

  • To build strong family relationships, listen actively to each other
  • Give the person your full attention, turn off the TV or put down what you are doing
  • Focus on what the person is telling you rather than thinking about your reaction or response to what he or she is saying.
  • Listen for how the other person is feeling; relay back to him what you think he is saying about his feelings.
  • Resist giving advice or your reaction until you’re certain you have fully understood what the person is saying to you.

Patricia Tanner Nelson, Ed.D. ,Family & Human Development Specialist Want more information? Visit us at Family Life