For most people, the family is the first group to which they belong. Whether it’s a mother and father, two mothers, two fathers, an aunt and uncle, grandparents, one mother, one father, or even stepparents, a family is where everyone should feel safe and accepted.
No matter where you go, what you do and where you go in life, your family is going to be one of the most critical parts of your past, your present, and your future.
In this article we will discuss some of the reasons why family is so important and how you can keep your family healthy. But first, you’ll see the importance of family and some of the things that a strong family bond offers you.
5 Benefits of a Strong Family Bond
There are many benefits to being part of a family, but here are five benefits of a strong bond with your family.
Having a strong family bond can give you emotional support. It helps us feel better when you’re sharing in the happy moments with one another and supporting one another during the difficult times.
A strong family bond can make you feel good about yourself, can validate when you’re doing well and helping when you need a little extra help.
When you have a strong family bond, you feel as if you belong. This is essential with a family, so you feel like you’ve got your home base, somewhere that you feel like you belong and that you’re accepted.
Your family is where you often first learn how to do things, like talk, walk, and other things before you go to school.
A family is somewhere you can get things such as care packages and financial support.
11 Tips for a Healthy Family
Now you know the importance of family and the ways a healthy family can benefit you, it’s important to note that a healthy family isn’t going to happen automatically. Just like anything else, it takes work. But the good news is that there are things that you can do to help your family be happy and healthy.
- Create Time for Cuddling – Everyone can use a hug now and then. You want to make sure that you’re spending time as a family talking, playing games, reading, or just snuggling. These types of positive touches will help your children feel secure and loved, and it’s a lot of fun for everyone.
- Sing Together – This is a wonderful way that you can bond together. Create your own words, dance with your children in the living room, and put on some music to motivate your kids to clean their rooms.
- Don’t Forget to Have Fun – Even though you want to encourage your children’s extracurricular activities and schoolwork, putting all your emphasis on them often creates anxiety and tension. Make some time for activities with no purpose other than having fun as a family. Take walks together, explore caves, cook, plant flowers or vegetables, and play games.
- Exercise with Each Other – This doesn’t mean that you have to join a gym. Riding bikes, running, playing ball, jumping rope, swimming and many other things can encourage a healthy lifestyle and can help you spend time together.
- Create Some Healthy Habits – Even though junk food is delicious, it’s full of sugar and salt. This means that it’s going to wreak havoc with the moods and health of your family. Create some healthy habits for snacking by leaving out cut-up veggies, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and nuts.
- Cook Together – This is an easy way that you can get kids interested in eating healthy. While you are cooking dinner with the kids, you’re encouraging some healthy habits for heating and teaching them teamwork, improvisational skills, measurement, and cooking. It also can help with encouraging picky children to eat different things.
- Reward Children’s Good Behavior – You must be reinforcing the good behavior of your children. However, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can go to the zoo, go to the movies, or let them stay up later.
- Read Together – Make sure you’re reading to your children each day or spending time as a family reading books. You can also listen to audiobooks. You can even make it cozier by snuggling on the couch. You can also encourage your children to take the time to write each day. You’d be amazed at the stories that they can create!
- Create Routines – Your children will thrive when they understand what they should expect. A bedroom routine that involves a bath, a song, and a story before they have to go to sleep can help with minimizing misbehavior at bedtime. Having a routine in the morning also can help you with getting them to school much quicker and with less fuss.
- Remember that Sorry is not Enough – When a child hurts another child’s feelings, it isn’t enough for them to apologize. You want your child to find ways to help with healing the hurt that they caused by sharing one of their toys or helping with doing a chore.
- Make Your Marriage a Priority – One of the best things that you can do for children is to demonstrate your feelings for your spouse. This is going to model a good, healthy relationship for children and help with keeping your marriage secure.
Family Bonds at Different Ages
When you become a parent, you know that different ages require different parenting styles. From infancy to early childhood to adolescence, your parenting style will need to adjust based on your children’s changing needs.
Infancy & School-Age Children
When a baby’s needs (such as changing, cradling/holding, soothing, and feeding) are warmly and quickly met, the baby reaches an important task called attachment. An affectionate bond between a child and parents is important for a healthy relationship. This also extends to the relationships between other children, various other members of the family, siblings, and caregivers. When a baby has a successful attachment to caregivers or parents, they’re learning how to trust. They also learn that the outside world’s welcoming and they’re much more likely to interact with and explore the environment. This will lay essential groundwork for more cognitive, emotional, and social development.
There was research done on the relationships between caregivers/parents and children. It showed that several factors improved the children’s self-esteem and school performance and lowered their chances of drug use and depression. These three things are relationships:
- That are communicative, open and warm
- Include the right limits
- Give reasonings for behavior or rules
Not only that, but cross-cultural parenting differences are very strongly related to things such as beliefs, attitudes, values, and traditions of the ethnic group or culture in which they belong. These types of parenting practices also are related to the economic and social context of the families.
When children get to adolescence, caregivers and parents face many new tasks that mean they have to use new approaches for dealing with their children’s changing needs. The children are changing physically, cognitively and socially. Caregivers and parents have to be prepared for the changes that are coming in their relationship with their child. Teens are going to start detaching much more from the bonds they’ve formed with their family and put their focus on the world around them and their peers.
This search for more autonomy and independence is something that almost all teens go through, and it’s important for them to have a balance between their bond with their family and let them have more autonomy while they grow. If a teen feels connected with but not constrained usually will flourish. It’s been discovered that when caregivers and parents keep up a communicative, warm, and reasonable parenting style will raise teens who are more socially competent, have lower drug risk, and are exhibiting lower degrees of depression or anxiety.
Why are Family Relationships Important?
Many times, you will turn on the news and hear about a teen being arrested for shooting or robbing a store. Often the teens come from a broken home where they have no father. Yet, there are plenty of other teens who are in the same relationship where they grew up without a father and who do not have a criminal record. What makes the difference? The difference can be the way that other people have stepped up and provided the nurturing and love that the child needed.
But having a good family relationship also is important for many other reasons as well.
- Help children to feel loved and secure, which can help with brain development
- Can help with overcoming problems with behavior, eating, learning and sleeping
- Make it much easier for resolving conflict and solving problems in the family
- Helps your children and you with respecting opinion differences as they have more independence
- It gives the children the necessary skills to create their own healthy relationships.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to look at your shared relationships with members of the family and your children and think about the way they can be improved.
When you have children you’re caring for, whether you’re a caregiver or a parent, you are doing the very best that you can. This is also being done while you juggle household management, friends, work, and more. But even when parents are very busy, there’s a lot of things that you can do to develop good relationships in the family.
A good relationship in the family is an essential part of a strong family. A strong family will grow from communication, love, connection, security and routines, and rules as well.
Quality Time & Family Relationships
You can have quality time with your family anywhere. You want to make the most out of any time you’re spending with one another. Below are a few ways that you can make more quality time occur in the family.
- Use the everyday time that you have together for talking and sharing laughs. A good couple of examples are during car travel and family meals. These are great times to find out how everyone’s day went.
- Talk to family members one-on-one. This will strengthen individual bonds. It doesn’t have to be exceptionally long, but just make sure it happens with each child before they go to bed.
- Make time for just you and your partner, if this applies. You can even talk to your children and tell them it’s important for the relationship with their mother/father to have the time for just the two of you.
- Do fun things regularly together with the whole family. You could play soccer together, you could take a hike together, or you could even have a family game or movie night.
- Decide together what things should be done for things like holidays, birthdays, or vacations. You can even include young children in the decisions.
Positive Communication & Family Relationships
This is about taking some time to listen to the people in the family. This should be without any judgment and being able to express your feelings and thoughts. When there’s positive family communication, everyone feels:
This helps strengthen the relationships in the family.
Below are some ideas that you can try for positive communication for strengthening the relationships in your family.
- Listen – Anytime your partner or child wants to sit down and talk, make sure you’re listening. Stop anything you’re doing and give them your full attention. Give them the time to express what they’re saying.
- Give Them Space – If your children are older, like teenagers, they may not always want to talk If this is the case, give them the space they want. When they are ready, they’ll come to you.
- Be Open – Some of the things you might have to talk about could be difficult. But you want to be open about discussing them. Whether you’re admitting mistakes or talking about emotions, such as anger, anxiety, fear, and joy, you want to show your children you’re willing to be open.
- Be Ready to be Spontaneous – If you have younger children, you will be amazed at the things that come out of their mouths. Be ready to have them bring something up during the most unusual times, such as at bedtime or during a bath.
- Plan for Hard Talks – This is especially true with teenagers. These are things such as alcohol, drugs, difficulties in school, and money are some of the things that you may have trouble discussing. You want to think through values and feelings before the topics are discussed
- Praise – It’s important to praise both your partner and your children. Let them know when you appreciate their efforts and their help.
Communicate Positively Non-Verbally
Talking is essential, but non-verbal communication is just as important. Make sure you’re paying attention and picking up non-verbal cues from both your partner and children. For instance, your teen may not be interested in talking, but they still might want a hut at times.
You also want to know of any non-verbal messages you’re sending. For instance, things like eye contact, kisses, and hugs are sending messages that you’re interested in being close to someone. But when your voice is grumpy, or you’re during an activity you’re doing together might be saying that you’d rather not be there.
Teamwork & Family Relationships
Working as a team in your family means everyone’s feeling as if they can contribute and as if they’re supported. It’s much easier if you’re working in a team if everyone knows where they’re standing. So you want to have clear limits, boundaries, and expectations.
Below are some of the ways that teamwork can be encouraged.
- Share in the Household Chores – Even children who are very young like feeling as if they belong and contribute.
- Include Your Children – When you are making decisions about things such as rules, holidays, and family activities, make sure that everyone has a say. A really great way to do this is through family meetings.
- Let Children Make Decisions – Decisions you’re allowing is going to depend on the maturity and ability of your child, along with any boundaries that have been set. An example would be if you allow a 12-year-old to choose to ride their bike home or walk home.
- Create Rules in the Family – One of the best things you can do is to create consistent rules in the family. These are rules that everyone must follow. This will help your family to be more peaceful and get along much better.
- Solve Problems Together – This will involve thinking and listening calmly, considering the options, respecting the opinions of others, finding some constructive solutions, and compromising.
Appreciating One Another & Family Relationships
A good family relationship means that you value one another. Below are some ways that this can be accomplished.
- Show Interest – This means going to concerts, art shows, sporting events, and other things.
- Include Everyone – When you’re talking about what happened during the day, make sure you include everyone. Ask each person how their day is.
- Share Family Memories & Stories – Things like this can help your children to appreciate things that aren’t very obvious or their history. This could be things that you did when you were their age or how an older sibling helped to care for them when they were born.
- Acknowledge Differences – Rather than comparing your children to one another, remember that they are their own person. Recognize their abilities, strengths, and talents. If you thank and praise an older child for listening to their younger sibling to read, it will show them they’re caring and helpful.
Building a Family Relationship with Stepchildren
Divorce and remarriage have become more common these days, and the family dynamics have changed to include more step children than ever. So it’s important to think of including stepchildren when it comes to creating a happy and healthy family relationship.
Be Careful of Unrealistic Expectations
A lot of step parents feel pressured into making their own Brady Bunch. But with things like custody battles, finances, adjustments, and previous marriages, it’s usually not going to happen. Take some small steps to build a relationship with stepchildren. Put your focus on building some respect from them before you try for a lovey-dovey relationship.
Encourage Them to be Open
Something that you can do with your family is to let everyone know that they can freely express their emotions, insecurities, and fears. But make sure that you’re not expecting that they’ll talk to you immediately. The chances are that they’ll only speak with their parents in the beginning.
Show Your Support
Recognize how important it is for them to maintain their relationship with their other parent still if that person’s still in their life. Don’t try replacing them but focus on creating your own relationship with the stepchildren.
Be Your Spouse’s Partner
The two of you need to have open, constant communication regarding your family. Support one another and make sure you’re making joint decisions for your family. Also, make sure the children understand your decisions are united.
Allow the Parent to Discipline
This may change in the future, but when you first get married, you want to allow the biological parent to discipline. Before you’re able to discipline the children actively, you have to earn the perfunctory respect of the stepchildren. Until your stepchildren trust you and know you better, you shouldn’t expect they’re going to listen to obey.
You may discipline them in the future, but you want to start this process slowly. You should take part in making rules but shouldn’t discipline when those rules get broken. Make sure that you’re presenting the rules of the house as something that you both created.
Don’t Make Scapegoats Out of the Stepchildren
Even though stepchildren are often frustrating, make sure you’re not blaming them for all of the issues in the family or with your relationship between you and your spouse. Take time and figure out if their actions and attitudes are the issues or if you’re more frustrated due to something else.
This is especially important if there are teenagers in your home. This is going to help you with maintaining a good and positive attitude, as well as refreshing you. It also will help you with treating teenage behavior as something small. Save that energy for the huge and important things, and don’t take the smaller things seriously.
This isn’t going to happen overnight. The truth is that it can take a few years. But you want to work at it since the benefits that you’ll see with your stepchildren and your relationships with them are going to be so worth it.
Don’t Show Favoritism
If you and your spouse both have children coming into your marriage, it may be hard to show favoritism to your own children over your stepchildren. But you want to make sure you’re treating everyone equally. Otherwise, there’s going to be resentment, and it can make it hard to have a strong and healthy family, and it won’t do your relationship with your spouse any good either.
When a Family Member Dies
The importance of family is even more when someone dies. If you have a very close family unit, it can be hard when a member of the family dies. Here are some tips that you can use to help your child grieve.
Follow Your Child’s Lead
The types of concerns and questions that your child may have can be really different from an adult. You don’t want to give the children a lot of information since it can be overwhelming. Allow them to ask questions and answer them as best as you can.
Don’t try protecting or sheltering the children by hiding your sadness. They’re going to know something’s wrong, but they’re going to feel confused and alone. If you hide your grief, it can also make them feel as if they also have to hide the way they are feeling.
Steer Clear of Euphemisms
You don’t want to use things such as ‘gone’ or ‘passed away.’ You want to be literal. Otherwise, they may feel confused, scared, and anxious. They also might think that the person can come back, depending on what you said.
Keep Normal Routines
The best thing you can do is to keep routines as normal as you can. Grief’s going to take time, but children will benefit from regular routines since they’re secure. If they want to go to school and they feel up to it, let them.
The family is where everyone should feel that they are safe and loved and can be themselves. You want to make sure that you are taking time with your children and letting them know that you are there for them no matter what. But you also want to make sure you and your partner or spouse have time for yourselves.
Not only is this healthy for you and your relationship, but it can help your family be healthy. The importance of family can’t be denied. Your family is at the core of your being and can help shape you, for better or worse. When you are making decisions, remember the importance of family and how it can make the world a better place for you, your children, and your partner.