The word family can mean so many different things. Some of you may belong to a nuclear or traditional family, where in the household, you and your spouse reside with your biological children. While others might belong to an extended, or multigenerational family unit, where aunts, uncles, and cousins, might be present. Reconstituted or blended families are also mainstream due to a remarriage and the new partner becoming a stepparent to non-biological children. Despite the makeup of your unique family unit, it is very possible to develop healthy relationships within it. However, you might be asking where do I start?
Have you ever looked into your household’s family dynamics? Family dynamics are the patterns of relating, or interactions between family members. Each family system and its dynamics are unique, although some common traits can be identified depending upon the unit you belong to (nuclear, traditional, etc.). In a blended family for example, non-biological children might call a stepparent by their first name, instead of by the traditional family label of “mom” or “dad.” In a multigenerational family, offspring might be reared by multiple adults in the home, not just biological mom and dad.
It is important to understand the roles each person in the household plays. Who is in charge? Are their alignments, or closer connections within the home? Who is the most reliable? The quiet one? The naughty one? Your family label can influence other’s expectations of you, and how you should behave. Recognizing the labels, that you and the members of your household have, can be beneficial to understanding triggers, conscious, and unconscious choices, and ultimately a general better understanding of self.
When family dynamics are healthy, everyone has a voice, parent-child attachments are secure, parenting styles are flexible and adaptable to the learning styles of their children, and everyone feels loved, safe, and connected. Healthy does not mean perfect! All families disagree at times, but how you respond to differences in opinion are pivotal to a household’s wellbeing.
Here are seven tips to encourage better family relationships:
1. Pick and choose your battles (is this a little problem, or a big problem?)
2. Listen carefully to your loved ones
3. Work on your communication
4. Avoid arguments before they start by identifying triggers
5. Be open
6. Understand and respect family personalities
7. Speak to an expert
One of the most significant things you can do as a family member, is to be the person you aspire to be. Set a different standard for yourself, to establish a different blueprint for your family dynamic to follow. When you are in the moment, it is hard to remember that your loved ones are watching. Once words leave your mouth, an apology cannot bring them back. Disagreeing with grace, and modeling positive communication, is the most essential ingredient to a healthy home. By: Jasmin Newell