Welcome back to our Top 5 Parenting Series. The previous posts in this series include ‘Top 5 Rainy Day Ideas for Parents’, ‘Top 5 Tips for Creating Better Sleep for Your Child’, ‘Top 5 Tips for Raising Independent Children’, and ‘Top 5 Tips for Improving Picky Eating’. In this post, our fifth post in the series, we will explore tips for building family bonds.
Building and maintaining healthy family relationships is a crucial part of a happy and fulfilling life. As human beings, we thrive on connections and social interactions, and our families are often where we find the deepest sense of belonging and purpose. However, the fast-paced nature of modern life can make it challenging to prioritize and nurture these relationships. In this article, we will explore five key strategies for building and maintaining strong and healthy family relationships, even in the midst of life's many demands and distractions.
Tip #1: Plan quality time
Quality- not quantity- helps improve family relationships.
Planning quality time with our loved ones is a vital component in improving and strengthening family relationships. By setting aside dedicated time to spend with each other, we can deepen our connections and create meaningful memories. Whether it's scheduling a weekly family game night, taking a weekend trip together, or simply eating dinner as a family without distractions, prioritizing this quality time can help us maintain a sense of closeness and build a strong foundation for our relationships. In addition, being intentional about how we spend this time, such as engaging in fun and meaningful activities and actively listening and communicating with each other, can further enhance the positive impact on our family relationships.
There is no wrong way to spend family time together and it will look different from family to family. An article on University of Delaware’s website suggests building ‘family rituals’. “A family ritual is simple 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 going for a walk together. It is important that the family ritual be predictable and that other activities are not allowed to upset it.” 2
If you live by the beach, your quality time might include trips to the ocean or spending time on the water together. If you live in a cold climate, your time together might be in the snow skiing or building snow angels. The key to quality time is being together and limiting distractions. Allowing yourself time to interact with each other and build bonds as a family is what it is all about. My family loves to play board games together. A few nights per week we try to play at least one or two games. It isn’t about the quantity of time together but rather the quality.
Tip #2: Try new things together
Trying new things as a family helps deepen your connection to each other.
Trying new things together is a great way to improve family relationships. It could be as simple as trying a new recipe or restaurant together or as adventurous as planning a family trip to a new place. Whatever the activity is, the experience of trying something new together helps create shared memories and can lead to new interests and hobbies. By stepping outside of our comfort zones and trying new things, we can also learn more about each other and gain a deeper appreciation for our differences.
My family loves to visit new places together- whether it be a new city or just a new restaurant or store in our own city. These experiences can affect your pocketbook as much or as little as you want. We maybe only get to a new city once a year. But we try to go in new stores, plant nurseries, and coffee shops on a more regular basis.
Tip #3: Communicate
Healthy communication among family members helps create healthy lasting bonds.
Communication is key in any relationship, and that holds true for family relationships as well. It's important to cultivate open and honest lines of communication between family members in order to build and maintain healthy relationships. This means actively listening to each other, being willing to compromise, and being transparent about thoughts and feelings. One effective strategy for improving communication is to hold regular family meetings where everyone can share their thoughts and concerns in a structured and supportive environment. A welcoming and non-judgmental environment encourages open communication, where every family member feels heard and valued. It's also important to address conflicts or issues in a calm and constructive way, without attacking or blaming each other.
The dinner table is a great place to begin opening those lines of communication if they aren’t open already. Enjoying a meal together often breaks down walls and brings families closer. Additionally, seeking professional help in the form of family therapy can assist in improving communication skills and resolving any long-standing issues within the family dynamic.
Consider non-verbal communication as well. As an article on RaisingChildren.net states “Not all communication happens in words, so it’s important to pay attention to the feelings that your children and partner express non-verbally…It’s also important to be aware of the non-verbal messages you send. For example, hugs, kisses and eye contact send the message that you want to be close to your child. But a grumpy tone of voice or a frown when you’re doing something together might send the message that you don’t want to be there.”1
Tip #4: Learn how to disagree
Learning how to disagree in healthy ways can help maintain family bonds.
Disagreements are an inevitable part of any relationship, especially among family members who may have different values and perspectives. It's important to learn how to disagree in a healthy and respectful way, as this can actually improve family relationships by creating a deeper understanding. Strategies like active listening, avoiding personal attacks, and finding common ground can help both parties feel heard and understood. Using "I" statements instead of "you" statements can help prevent the other person from feeling attacked or defensive. By embracing disagreements as an opportunity for growth and learning, we can build stronger, more resilient family relationships.
Many family struggles come from disagreements on one topic or another. By learning from an early age how to respectfully disagree, we can potentially avoid larger family disputes down the road.
Tip #5: Celebrate each other
Celebrating each member of the family is not only fun but it also helps each member feel valued.
One essential element of healthy relationships is celebrating each other. Celebrating the milestones, achievements, and successes of family members can help strengthen the connections among them. From birthdays and graduations to career advancements and personal triumphs, acknowledging and cheering for one another can foster a sense of support and camaraderie. Celebrations can also take the form of making time for quality family meals or simply sharing laughs and good times together. When we celebrate each other, we reaffirm that we are all important and valued members of the family unit.
Celebrations do not have to be expensive. Consider affordable ideas such a homemade card, a balloon, or choosing a special dessert. It truly is the thought that counts.
How does your family create lasting family bonds? We would love to hear about it!