As our family grows and develops, it’s essential that we help foster the relationships within them in an atmosphere based on trust. At every stage of your children’s lives, it’s essential that they know they can rely on you to hear them out and provide judgment-free advice. The same can be said of your partner, though the dynamics there obviously will differ. It’s important to remember that relationships, even in families, require consistent work and accountability and a willingness to really listen to each other. We put together this guide to help your family learn to connect and build effective relationships that will weather life’s storms.
Some Basic Foundations Of Strong Family Relationships
The most central element of building a family with healthy relationships is communication. The ability to truly listen to each other without waiting for your turn to speak and to hear what is trying to be communicated is key. Communication seems simple on the surface, and it’s certainly a word that’s bandied about as if it’s trivial, but it takes a significant amount of work. Some key elements of active listening include:
- Give the speaker your undivided attention with no distractions
- Really listen, without thinking about what you want to say next
- Listen for things that will tell you about the persons feeling
- Relay what you understand about what they’ve said back to them for confirmation
- Wait until you know they want advice to start giving it
In addition to active listening, it’s also important to learn how to impart information to the person you’re speaking to in a way that is respectful and clear. Some basic techniques for accomplishing this goal are:
- Speak using “I” statements that focus on how you feel and what you think. By doing this, you avoid making assumptions about the other person’s feelings or thoughts and focus on sharing your own. This can avoid conflict constructively.
- Encourage others to use “I” statements as well and to avoid statements that begin with “you.”
In addition to these useful techniques, it’s important to create an environment where everyone feels safe sharing their feelings and experiences. Knowing they can be heard without judgment makes it more likely that they’ll come to you with struggles and concerns. This means when difficult times come, your family will be better equipped to handle them together.
Time Spent Together Is Essential
One of the things that draw families together fastest is making sure they spend enough time together. This isn’t something you can force in the manner of a National Lampoon’s film. Instead, spending time together should be part of your regular family experience. This can include celebrating holidays, movie nights, religious or spiritual observances, birthdays, and just sitting down together around the dinner table. What’s important in making these gatherings meaningful is to not make them feel like obligations. Part of a strong family relationship is respecting each other’s drives and goals without feeling like they’re intrinsically shamed for not attending. Make time for your family to spend on their hobbies and passions, as well as time with each other.