Key Tips in Strengthening Family Ties

October 10, 2017 Family relationship

According to a study published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in the United States, family instability may cause children to “fare worse developmentally”.  This only reinforces what we already know: that the experiences in the family have long-lasting effects on the people that make up the unit, particularly the children. This is why it is so important to strengthen family ties no matter what the family structure.

What are some of the simplest ways you can strengthen family ties?

Ties that bind

The same study shows that for as long as there is stability and emotional cohesion among members, the well-being of children is not affected by the kind of family structure they grow up in. This means that the happiness of children does not depend on having two parents or living in a single-parent situation.  A more important determinant of a child’s well-being is the bond the members of the family share.  This is the biggest reason why it is so important to strengthen family ties early on. 

How to strengthen family ties

1. Improve communication

A key ingredient in strengthening family ties is good communication.  It is an important tool in processing emotions and resolving conflict.  Here are some tips in improving communication among family members:

    • Practice active listening skills by giving full attention to the family member talking. If you are snappish with your reaction, your child might not open up to you again.
    • Be a friend. You can’t be the disciplinarian all the time. Once your children fear you, there sure is no way that they will talk openly or honestly to you. 
    • Be open to thoughts and feelings. Boys, at times, are taught that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. Girls, at times, are dismissed as overthinking drama queens. A healthy family situation does not fall prey to such stereotypes. Rather than consider emotions as the enemy, it encourages members to share their thoughts and feelings without judgment.
    • Learn how to relay hurt feelings effectively. As part of conflict resolution, there is a need to use ‘I’. This means that you have to phrase negative emotions with an I-message rather than the accusatory You-message. It would be more effective to say, “I felt hurt when I was called irresponsible”  compared to , “You hurt me when you called me irresponsible.” The second is confrontational and might even deepen the conflict a lot more. Use the I-message approach when dealing with negative situations.
    • Have family meetings. Whether it is to plan for a trip for the family or to resolve a conflict, it is always great to be able to schedule a time where family members can talk about specific things. It is also an avenue for members to get something off their chest when necessary. 

2. Do things together

Another way to strengthen family ties is to spend time together. Doing activities with family members naturally reinforces the bond and provides the opportunity to get to know each other even better. Here are some things that you can do with your family on a regular basis:

    • Eat meals together. Eating together has always been recognised as one of the best times to bond. It is the time when members share what happened during their day. It is the perfect opportunity to speak about thoughts on current events. 
    • Travel. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to bond. Being in a different place prods you to rely on each other for directions or choosing a place to dine. There’s also something about sharing new experiences with family members that strengthens the ties. It creates cherished memories that will bind you for the rest of your lives.
    • Simple leisure time. Whether it is movie night or mall time, seemingly small moments do matter when you spend them with your family.   
    • Show up for children’s events. Not only do you get the opportunity to spend time with your family, you also show that you recognise the importance of your child’s interests and achievements.

3. Parents should act as role models

It really falls to  parents to take the responsibility to strengthen family ties.  How they do things will naturally reflect on their children. If parents value respect and encouragement, children will also embody these ideals. If they show focused attention on their children’s thoughts, there is a huge probability that their kids will practice active listening skills as well.

You cannot expect children to have a positive outlook in life if their parents are mentally and emotionally destructive. It will take years of therapy for children to come to terms with this. The bad news is that there is a huge chance that they might also have failed familial relations in the future. This is why parents are strongly encouraged to build a healthy family environment in order to raise happy and well-adjusted children. This can be achieved if parents work hard to strengthen family ties.

Let Dr. John Toussaint help you

Dr. John Toussaint can assist you as you find ways to strengthen family ties. With his years of experience as therapist and mediator, he can help you figure out where to start and how to sustain the effort in building a healthy environment at home. Call Dr. Toussaint today!

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