How to Strengthen Your Family Dynamics
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“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Are you a part of a busy, disconnected family unit? If so, it may be time to work on your family dynamics. Truth-be-told, most people today are busy with jobs, children, school/college, friends, extracurricular activities, social events, and yes, even pets, so it is easy to neglect the people, who mean the most to you – your family. It is important to remember that, in most cases; no one will love and accept you like your family will. And, although, many families bicker amongst themselves, they steadfastly defend and support their members, when they are faced with adversities. Family is important, in fact, it is essential for a happy life. You may believe that it is better not to have loved ones (family) in your life, but you are wrong.
Everyone needs people in their corner, and what better support group can you have than your family. Moreover, a family does not have to constitute biological ties; rather it can consist of the people, who have been there for you, through thick and thin. In other words, your family may consist of your closest friends, spouse and his or her family, longtime co-workers, foster families, adoptive families, biological families, or a mixture of all of these groups. Regardless, it is important to keep that family dynamic strong and healthy. Have you lost touch with your family? If the answer is “yes” then you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to reconnect with your family and strengthen your family dynamics.
Schedule Family Dinners
One way to strengthen your family dynamics is to schedule family dinners. For most people, setting time aside for family dinners can be stressful, and time-consuming, but it does not have to be. Why? Well, you don’t have to schedule these dinners every night or even every week, in fact, you may only have the time and patience to spend one day a month with certain family members. And, that is ok. However, if possible, try to eat dinner with your immediate family members (i.e. parents, children and/or siblings), at the same location (i.e. restaurant or dinner table), at least 2 or 3 times a week, minimally. If you need to rearrange your schedule to accommodate these dinners – do it. Don’t allow your family to slip away from you. Why? Well, because, you never know how much time you will have with your loved ones. Therefore, it is important to make the most of the time you have together.
Plan a “Family Night”
Who doesn’t like a “family night?” For most, spending time together as a family is both enjoyable and comforting. In a healthy family, all of the members support and encourage each other. Family members also offer unconditional love and unwavering support to one another. So, if you find your familial bond weakening, it may be time to plan a fun, interactive “family night.” So, what are some “family night” suggestions? Well, you may want to consider ordering pizza and watching a movie on Friday nights, or you may want play “family-style” board games on Monday nights (i.e. Life, Monopoly, Family Feud, Pictionary, etc.).
If you decide to watch a movie, do not end “family night” once the movie is finished, rather discuss the movie as a family. The keys to building family unity and strengthening your family dynamics are: communication and positive shared experiences. Make sure to plan a “family night” that everyone will enjoy! It is important to note that you do not have to spend exorbitant amounts of money to have a fun “family night,” the goal is to spend time together – reconnecting and learning more about one another.
Create Rules & Stick to Them
Does your family adhere to any “family rules?” If not, it may be time to create some. In other words, if you want to tighten the bond you share with your family, you will need to create rules and consequences. Moreover, it is important that these rules and consequences be created together as a family. For instance, you may want to create a rule that says: All family members are to be respected at all times. If a family member breaks this rule, he or she must clean all of the toilets in the house for a week. It is extremely important that you stick to the rules and consequences. In other words, if you follow the rules, then others will most likely follow your lead.
Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! In other words, improve your family dynamics by talking to one another. For instance, if your family involves a spouse or romantic partner – talk to him or her. Ask your loved one about his or her day? Also, ask your spouse or romantic partner about his or her fears, dreams, pet peeves, wants, needs, guilty pleasures, desires, etc. Grow closer to the people in your family by sharing your feelings, beliefs, issues, accomplishments, and opinions with them. Although rarely acknowledged, a healthy romantic relationship is extremely beneficial for strengthening the dynamics in your family. In other words, a good spouse-to spouse or partner-to-partner relationship is essential for improving communication, problem-solving skills, and coping strategies within the family.
So, fortify your family structure by making time to communicate as a family. And, if possible, set some time aside for you and your partner/spouse to reconnect with each other by going on a “date night.” It is easy to lose touch with your partner/spouse when you are bustling from place to place, but that connection is important for strengthening your family dynamics. Hire a babysitter, if you have young children, and go to a drive-in movie, spend the evening in the park, under the stars, listening to soft music and gazing at the stars, or simply cuddle in bed with a glass of wine and a two-person dessert. The key is to talk, while you spend time together. And, if possible, try to fit in a couple of chuckles here and there.
How much do you really know about your family members? Hmm…not much? Well, if you want to improve your family dynamics, you will need to listen – to your spouse, your children, you parents, and others that you consider “family.” It is common to want your family members to listen to you; however, it is also important that you listen to them. Look your family member in the eyes when he or she is speaking, and summarize what he or she has said, once he or she has finished. It is important that the person speaking feels that you care. And, what is the best way to show someone you care – listening to them. Do not allow your busy, hectic life to isolate you from loved ones, and/or lose touch with what is really important in life. Set aside time each day to “check in” with family members. In addition, don’t’ forget to give your loved ones hugs and kisses on a regular basis. These small gestures can draw your family closer together.
Are you harboring ill feelings toward a family member? If so, you will never heal from that transgression, if you do not “let it go” and move on. The best way to strengthen your family dynamics is to simply forgive. Nothing damages or destroys a family quicker than a “grudge.” If someone has hurt or betrayed you, talk to him or her. Do not keep those feelings bottled up inside or they will fester, and cause irreparable damage to your family. Hash it out, and forgive the other person. Note: If you are the person that needs forgiving, approach the person you hurt, talk about what happened (do not make excuses), and humbly ask for forgiveness. It is hard to ask for forgiveness, but it must be done, if you want to save your family. One you forgive the other person or he or she forgives you, you can begin to repair your relationship, which will only benefit the family as a whole.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Banschick, M. (2013). The family dinner. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201306/the-family-dinner
Carlson, G. R. & Dothage, M. K. (2015). Family scene 13: Tips to strengthen families. University of Missouri Extension. Retrieved from http://extension.missouri.edu/p/MP623
Clemson University: Extension Family and Consumer Services. (2015). Building family strengths: Unity. Retrieved from http://www.clemson.edu/fyd/unity.htm