In movies, books, and other forms of media, especially those aimed at teens and young adults, plenty of fictional families are portrayed as broken or dysfunctional. This might be because around 40 to 50 percent of couples get divorced, leaving their children caught in the middle.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 66 percent of adolescent children live with both parents. Despite having a complete family, though, family members’ relationships with each other might still not be good or healthy.
Around five percent of parents feel that they could not communicate well with their children based on a nationally representative study from the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health. While this seems like a small number, communication is essential in fostering a healthy relationship among family members, which in turn is essential for children to grow into well-balanced adults.
As such, it’s up to members of the family, especially parents of young kids, to find ways to improve their relationship with each other. For starters, we have a few suggestions below:
Set aside quality time as a family
With children having school, extra-curricular activities, and social lives and parents needing to work or do some chores around the house, it can be difficult to gather everyone together and spend time as a family. But keep in mind that spending quality time as a family, whether it be by having weekly family movie nights or attending family events, strengthens your bond with each other and creates opportunities for eye-opening conversations.
Eat meals together
Several studies in the past have shown a positive connection between having family meals and the health of children within that family. As a parent, you can take family meals as an opportunity to catch up with your children’s everyday lives, learn about their current interests, and familiarize yourself with their friends from school. Family meals give you a chance to lend an ear without the pressure of serious one-on-one conversations.
Practice positive communication
Communication breakdown is often the cause of rifts in family relationships. Don’t let things left unsaid ruin your relationship with your spouse or children. Learn how to communicate positively starting by listening without judgment. Also, encourage each other to express their thoughts and feelings. Talking about feelings is uncomfortable, especially for boys. But knowing that you have supportive and non-judgmental family members who listen makes it easier.
Show appreciation for each other
Strong family bonds are created through encouragement and support. When you’re interested in certain hobbies or topics, it’s uplifting to know that your family cares and is interested in getting to know said hobbies to understand you better. So within the family, supporting each other’s interests is important to foster. Encourage each other with praise, support each other’s special events such as sports days or school plays, and celebrate each other’s triumphs. This practice can raise each family member’s self-esteem, which is essential for individual development, especially of children.
Cursory research will show you the value of families with strong, healthy bonds. As a parent, one of your key roles is to cultivate these bonds. With the techniques and practices above, you can help your family form a firm foundation enveloped with love and understanding for each other.