September 1, 2010

8 Secrets to a Strong and Happy Family

The family is the basic social unit of society. It is in the family that we first learn to play, to share, to help and to love. Some families effectively prepare kids to be strong and resilient, teaching them on how to cope with life’s frustrations and inevitable problems; others do not.
All families have challenges and weaknesses. But some families use key strengths to grow and prosper. Years of research have found that strong families cultivate 8 important traits that are found in the majority of strong, happy families. Here are the traits that are essential to a strong, happy family. Where is your family now? If your family is strong in a certain area, put plus in the box, if it is weak, put a minus, and if it doesn’t exist, put a zero. Then, try to turn the minuses into pluses!
1. Commitment: One for All, and All for One
The most important trait in strong, happy families is commitment. Commitment to the family – putting the family first – and commitment to each individual in the family in helping him or her become everything he or she can be. Commitment to the family – investing time and energy in family activities and not letting work or other priorities take too much time away from family interaction. In short, family life is priority.

A winning attitude is “I’ll forgo my own immediate gratification to help a child or a mate succeed, because I know the personal joy that I experience when I help another family member.”

2. Effective Communication: The Basis for All Family Strength
It’s hard to believe that the amount of high-quality communication time could be only 10 minutes per week, as one study found. Because you are product of your experience, each day you are a new person. Without taking and listening to each other family members can soon become strangers. To understand each other, a family has to be willing to invest the time necessary to share their feelings and opinions. Strong families are often task-oriented in their communications, identifying problems and discussing how to solve them together.
Have regular family meetings. Family meetings help us give proper attention to our family. They provide a forum of discussion for family issues, and an opportunity to plan for family time.

3. Appreciation and Affection: Do not Afraid to Express Your Love
A number of years ago a survey was done among women asking what they considered men’s worst faults. “Lack of appreciation” was the most frequent response. Do you let your children and mate know they’re appreciated? Can they tell by the way you treat them that you think they are pretty special? Strong families focus on the strengths of each other – not the faults.
If you think your family needs improvement in this area, try serving a compliment with each meal – at least 3 times a day. “ I really like the way you...” “You are special to me because...” “One of the things I like best about you is...” “You make me happy when you...” “You have a real talent when it comes to...” “ I love you ..” “You make me proud when....”” You make me feel wonderful when you...”

4. Time Together – Enjoy Being Together
One study of 1,500 schoolchildren asked, “What do you think makes a happy family?” Few replied that money, cars, fancy homes, or Disney World made a happy family . Most children said that a happy family is one that does things together, and that genuinely enjoys the times family members share with each other.
Plan time together. Schedule it. Play together, read together, travel together, walk together, and enjoy leisurely times together. Don’t let jobs, school, or personal hobbies steal family time.

5. Spiritual Well-Being /Religion - “the family that prays together stays together.”
People in strong families describe this concept in a variety of ways: some talk about faith in God, hope, or a sense of optimism in life. Other talk about their families in almost religious terms. Other expresses these kinds of feelings in terms of ethical values and commitment to important causes. “Spiritual well –being can be seen as the caring centre within each individual that promotes sharing, love and compassion. It is a feeling or force that helps people transcends themselves and their day-to-day stressors, and focus on that which is sacred to them in life.”(2) A spiritual connection provides sense of purpose in life, direction, and perspective.

6. Successful Management of Stress and Crisis
Healthy families aren’t problem-free; they just admit to problems and get the help they need to solve them! The longer a problem drags on without a solution, the more discouraging family life becomes. Don’t allow this to happen! If you wait it can destroy you – and your family. Keep searching for answers. Keep reaching out!
Strengthening Families in Times of Crisis by Stephen R.Covey (3):
“There are three things that I encourage everyone to do with their families in good times or bad:
1. Write a family mission statement – identify what kind of family you want to be. For instance, what qualities define your family, what kinds of feeling do you want in your home, how do you want to build relationships? Get everyone involved in these questions and write something that describes your family and how you want to be.
2. Hold weekly family meetings – gather your family once a week to talk about issues, problems or good things in your family. Refer to your mission statement to see how you are doing. Enjoy this time together; do something fun.
3. Remember the emotional bank account – similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your family relationships. Make a conscious effort to make meaningful deposits in your relationships. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and correct the mistake.

As you do these things, you will find your relationships strengthened in your family. You will take control of your life and your family’s life rather than being tossed away by the storms of problems or crises that come your way and your family will be your greatest source of strength and support.
We highly recommend to read:
5 Building Blocks of Active Parenting

7. Common Interests and Goals – Your Own Family Rhythm
The more that family members have in common, the more they tend to do together. Having similar interests and developing common goals gives the family something to look forward to, to plan toward, and to experience together. A vacation is a great example. The planning of it sometimes is almost more enjoyable than the actual vacation!
The healthiest families are also open to change. They have routines, rituals, and traditions that give direction, meaning, and structure to the daily flow of life. They have learned to adapt to the changing needs of their family. They grow with the times and one another. From both the past and the present grow new traditions and new rhythms. The harmony and rhythm may change in creative ways, but the beauty of the music continues.

8. Play and A Sense of Humour
Happy families have fun together; they laugh together. Having a sense of humour during tense, troublesome moments is like pouring oil on boiling water. It defuses the tension and has an immediate calming effect.

Happy Family Journey!

1. Joycelyn Tucker Burgo, Kids and SELF-ESTEEM
2. Stinnett and DeFrain, The Family Strengths Model

3. Stephen R. Covey , Strengthening Families in Times of Crisis
4. Kay Kuzma, What makes a strong, happy family? - Essential traits for happiness

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