Family makes enduring the slings and arrows of life worth it. However, if you suffer from conflict-ridden, tumultuous relationships with your nearest and dearest, it can cause severe psychological distress that poisons your happy existence.
What makes a good family relationship? Here are eight qualities you should strive to develop with your spouse, children and anyone else in your bloodline squad.
1. A Team Mindset
When you hit the theme park, do you all wear matching shirts? Such measures may do more than help you spy each other if lost — it also creates a feeling of camaraderie.
If you have the extra funds, get baseball or football jerseys made that say “Team Your-Last-Name.” When you rock these at events, everyone will know to which crew you belong. Nervous children will instantly feel more included at activities like the annual back-to-school kickoff game.
2. Quality Time Together
If you want to nurture good family relationships, you need to spend time with your loved ones. While this should go without saying, what constitutes quality time?
Gathering around the dinner table doesn’t count if you all stare at separate devices between requests to please pass the peas. Bring back the family mealtime, but make it doable for your schedule. If you work the second shift while your kids homeschool, having a healthy brunch together might make more sense than holding supper until 11 p.m.
3. Healthy Communication Skills
How do you and your loved ones communicate? Hurling insults at each other doesn’t make for good family relationships.
Those with a volatile argumentative style may get heated, but they never descend into name-calling or emotional abuse. Learn to disagree without belittling and reinforce that you still love your family members even when you get angry at their behavior.
4. A Secure Attachment Style
Psychologists recognize four basic attachment styles, and only one — secure — is healthy.
- Dismissive-avoidant: Folks with this style pay little attention to each other’s needs, leaving children and partners feeling neglected.
- Anxious-preoccupied: Those with this attachment style might fit the “helicopter parent” stereotype. They’re so afraid of harm or loss to loved ones that they can smother and grow overprotective.
- Fearful-avoidant: Those with this attachment style often suffered severe past trauma. They want to build closeness, but their “once-bitten” mindset prevents them from getting too close.
- Secure: These folks make like the old song and hang on loosely without letting go. They let their spouse and kids know they care without cramping their style.
You can take an online quiz to discover your attachment style. If it isn’t secure, consider working with a trained therapist to become more so — you can change how you interact.
5. A Positive Lifestyle
You might have heard news stories about parents appearing behind their children in online classes halfway dressed, using drugs and alcohol, and seemingly promoting unhealthy behavior. If such actions appear on camera, imagine what happens in private.
Promote a healthy, positive lifestyle with your family. You don’t have to live on green smoothies and train for triathlons as a clan, but you should avoid smoking and drinking in front of your kids. At a minimum, discuss why some adults indulge in destructive behaviors — letting your kids see you struggle to quit might discourage them from taking that first drag.
6. Forgiveness and Acceptance
What’s the price of a single B on a report card? If you ground your second grader for such a mark for a month, you may destroy her passion for learning.
Part of making good family relationships entails loving each member for their unique gifts. Your child may never become a whiz at math, but if they can build a birdhouse in minutes, they have a promising future career in construction. Don’t try to force your kids to conform to standards of perfection that may equate to forcing a fish to climb a tree — celebrate their unique strengths.
Likewise, if your 16-year-old dents your fender while learning to drive, talk the incident over but move past it. Everybody makes mistakes, and knowing they will be forgiven encourages your children to trust you.
7. Meeting Basic Needs and Crisis-Coping Skills
To have positive family relationships, you must be able to meet your clan’s basic needs for shelter, food and health care. Unfortunately, this task may not be easy. Millions of Americans lived in poverty before the pandemic, and 8 million more slipped into destitution since it began.
Find ways to work together to meet your basic needs. If you must homeschool your children, try to find quality work-from-home employment to avoid the need for expensive day care.
Kids often want to help. While child labor laws exist for good reason, it’s OK to let them have a lemonade stand or help collect cans to turn in for recycling money.
8. Gratitude for One Another
When the rest of the world seems to turn against you, your family ensures that someone has your back. Express gratitude for one another regularly.
Tell your children when they make you laugh until you burst. Make them feel proud of the joy they bring to your life. Thank your spouse for emptying the dishwasher or running the recycling to the sorting center. In the hubbub of daily life, it’s natural to overlook the little things you feel grateful for, but ignoring your family’s efforts can breed resentment.
Do You Make Good Family Relationships? Improve Yours With These Tips
If you want to form good family relationships, the eight tips above can help. Create a united clan against an unpredictable world by celebrating those you hold most dear.