Building Strong Family Relationships - Cooperative Extension
Good communication within a family encourages feelings of self-worth and helps children maintain good relationships with others. Even small families can have. benefit from having close relationships with parents and stepparents (e.g. . scholars who are intensely curious about how and why families do. Daughters generally have closer relationships with parents that The more intense the tension level, though, the less likely parents and.
According to Birditt, tensions may be more upsetting to parents than to children because parents have more invested in the relationship. Parents are also concerned with launching their children into successful adulthood. Both mothers and fathers reported more tension in their relationships with daughters than with sons. Daughters generally have closer relationships with parents that involve more contact which may provide more opportunities for tensions in the parent-daughter tie.
Both adult sons and adult daughters reported more tension with their mothers than with their fathers, particularly about personality differences and unsolicited advice.
And as parents age and come to want or need more from their relationship with adult children, adult children may pull away, creating greater relationship tensions. Although most parents and adult children experience at least a little tension, Birditt found that some topics were more harmful than others to parent-child relationships.
The good news is that both parents and children were most likely to deal with problems constructively by trying to accommodate each other's wishes when problems came up, working to find solutions to problems, and trying to accept and understand the other's point of view. The more intense the tension level, though, the less likely parents and children were to use constructive strategies and the more likely they were to try avoiding the issues or use destructive strategies such as yelling or arguing.
And according to Birditt, that is bad news. Avoidance and destructive strategies are associated with poorer quality relationships overall. When they were at the peak of their power and prosperity, the family was strong and highly valued. However, when family life became weak, when the family was not valued, when they began to value things rather than relationships, when society became extremely individualistic, the society began to deteriorate and eventually fell apart.
A short time ago I heard an interview with former President George Bush. He expressed regret over his failure to help American families more during his term in the White House.
A president has great power over foreign policy. We cannot continue to produce generations born into despair. We must say every choice is a moral choice, and some things are simply morally wrong. What kills me is the decimation and decline of the American family.
Rather, we are creating many American families, of diverse styles and shapes. In unprecedented numbers our families are unalike: We are living through a period of historic change in American family life. There is increasingly clear evidence that many or the major problems in our society are associated with poor, negative, unsatisfying or even nonexistent family life.
But what can we do with our kids that can make a difference? Over the past 15 years there have been numerous studies on characteristics of strong, healthy families.
Study of relationships between adult children and parents
What does a healthy family look like? What do healthy families do?
In the weeks ahead I will be sharing these seven simple keys with you. Most of them are fairly common-sense basic principles that all of us have heard before. Or when it does, it can lead to an attempt to accomplish too much change in too little time. That just leads to more discouragement and frustration. Growth is a process. It can be frustrating. We read a book or leave a lecture excited and motivated, and often try to do too much or expect too much too soon.
I know that this column has readers that come from different places in life. However, each one of us is part of a family. Regardless of your age or marital status, I believe that you will find something in each article that you will be able to apply in your present relationships to make them healthier and more mutually satisfying.
The Power of Modeling Everybody believes family is important. Everyone wants to have a healthy family. I recently saw an excellent illustration of how families function. My wife Carrie and I were visiting the seaside town of Cambria, California. While shopping we saw a mobile made of nine seashells. Each shell was a different size, shape and color and hung in delicate balance with the others. I gently blew on one of the shells. Do you know what happened? Because the shells were linked together, the energy from that gentle breath on one shell was transmitted to the others.
The entire mobile was affected and all of the shells moved. Families are similar to this mobile. In place of the seashells, picture the members of your family. This is especially true with parents. Do they see a mom and dad who have a visible love for each other or a single parent who has a visible love for family and close friends?
Do they see truth, honesty and integrity in action? Do they know that your love for them is not based on their performance? Do they have healthy examples of problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills? Do you appreciate and promote their uniqueness? Do you model and encourage a healthy experience and expression of emotions? Why are these things so important? They are some of the core skills our children need to become healthy individuals and develop healthy relationships.
You can feed your kids good food, buy them nice clothes and a car, give them a great college education. Trust me when I tell you that the most influential education your children will ever get is what they see and hear in your home.
The first is formal instruction. While writing this article God brought to mind the example of my own parents who gave me both formal and informal instruction. Yet when I reflect on what they did that was most helpful to me, what stands out in my memory is their informal instruction, their example. They took me to church.
In fact I rarely got up early. Yet, when I did, forever etched in my mind is the vivid picture of my dad in his bathrobe either reading the Bible or praying. When I was wrong they corrected me. When I was disobedient they disciplined me. When I made a mistake they forgave me. When I was overcome with discouragement they listened and encouraged me. But that was another gift. They let me see their weaknesses as well as their strengths.
They acknowledged their limitations and apologized when they were wrong. They taught me that no matter how old you are you can always learn and grow. The home is the window through which children get their first glimpse of who they are and what they are worth.
Children discover their value in the mirror of those around them, by how much they are looked at, listened to and touched, by what their parents say to them and about them in front of others.
The greatest gift you can give your child is who you are. The lifestyle our children see us model daily is much more powerful than what we tell them. But there must be congruity between the talk and the walk. If a child lives with hostility, she learns to fight.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with tolerance, she learns to be patient. If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy. If a child lives with encouragement, she learns confidence. If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice. If a child lives with security, she learns to have faith. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself. This week, how can you model love, patience, honesty, thoughtfulness, fairness and acceptance to someone in your family?
Pick one person and for the next 2 weeks practice modeling one of these characteristics. Giving the Gift of Time This second key to building strong families is the simplest but also one of the most difficult. Did you know that children spell love differently than most adults do?
Most children spell love with a T, an I, an M and an E. TIME is how most children spell love. Why is it so difficult? In the midst of this busyness our children can easily seem like an interruption. It is unrealistic for us to always drop everything and cater to the demands of our children.
Acknowledge them when they get up in the morning or when they get home from school or another event. Set aside quantity time at certain times during the week. As you study your children you may discover certain times during the day when they are more open to chatting. Then they were pulled off and a paralyzed man on a stretcher was lowered down right in front of Him. What a lousy time for an interruption. Can you think of a better way to blow a good sermon? Yet, what most of us would view as an interruption Christ viewed as a unique opportunity.
Christ saw the need, He recognized their faith and it was clear that this was more important than His talk. He immediately saw this as a teachable moment and took advantage of it. Through teachable moments we can help our children deal with their issues.
Sometimes they want to deal with them immediately and other times they need to think about them first. Through trial and error we as parents can make time and provide a safe place to help our kids grow. I believe that lack of time, or to be more accurate, lack of choosing to make time may be the most insidious, pervasive, and destructive enemy the healthy family has. That may sound a bit strong but in many ways it is true.
I would play more with my three boys, and cultivate more family sharing experiences. By sharing good times a family builds cohesiveness and unity. The play of children is something of a rehearsal for life, and parents who share these times of play will have a great opportunity to teach their children how to live. If we want our children to know, understand and adopt our values, we need to spend time with them.
When you think back to the happy times of your childhood what kinds of memories come to mind? Several years ago I heard a convicting story of the value and importance of making the family a priority. After a year of financial sacrifices they finally had enough cash for the project. With the money spent, the saving started all over in order to do the postponed remodeling the next year.
This scene was repeated every year from until when the youngest son was killed in Korea. On the night before his final battle he wrote a letter to his parents.
The letter arrived months after the family had been notified of his death. In this touching letter the young soldier expressed a premonition that he might soon die. He thanked his folks for their love and the many happy experiences of growing up, especially recalling the annual family trips they all shared.
Long silence followed the reading as both quietly wept. There are a lot of options: With Key 2 we learned that: Today we come to Key 3 which says: The basis for this key comes from the book of Ephesians in the New Testament.
In chapter 5 the apostle Paul gives some wise counsel to husbands and wives. He tells us that two key activities in a loving relationship are learning to cherish and nourish the other person.
Many people know what it means to love or cherish somebody. The challenge is to learn how to go beyond cherishing the one you love and discover how to nourish them. Cherish is the easy part. When you cherish something it means that you value and care about it. It is important to you. However, you may not express it. Nourish is an action term that looks at what I actually do. It involves going beyond the attitude to action. The attitude of cherishing and the activity of nourishing are two of the key dimensions of love.
A healthy loving relationship needs both. However, most people find it easier to cherish than to nourish. What does it mean to nourish and how can we do it? So I went to a nursery and purchased about ten different plants. Plants enrich the air, add warmth and character are attractive and are cheaper than furniture. As I picked out each plant the clerk explained to me the uniqueness of that plant. Things like when to prune and fertilize and how much water and light each plant liked.
On my way out the door I picked up some fertilizer spikes and took my plants home. The package said that you should use one spike for an eight inch pot. I decided to really nourish my plants so I put in three spikes rather than one. Knowing that plants need water I gave those plants more water than any plant deserved.
I knew that in no time those plants would be growing. Can you guess what happened? In several weeks all of my plants were dead. I gave my plants what I thought they needed and I gave them a lot of it. My intention had been to nourish them, but I ended up killing them. What had I done wrong? I returned to the nursery and told the clerk what I had done. At first she thought I was kidding and started laughing. Especially with the price of plants. She explained to me that I had treated all the plants as if they were the same.
I had not given the plants what they needed. I gave them what I thought they needed. She repeated that each plant is different.
7 Keys to Building Strong Families - iMom
What may nourish one plant can kill another plant. It is important to learn the unique needs of each plant and treat it accordingly. I purchased more plants but this time I followed all the instructions carefully. My plants grew and blossomed and flourished. Because this time I had truly nourished them. Many families act like I did when I went to the nursery for the first time. Sometimes we think we know our spouse or children better than we really do. We believe that we can nourish our loved ones by giving them what we think they need.
Often this involves our giving them what we would like and assuming that if we like it, they should too.
Quality nourishment involves stopping, looking, listening and studying that special person. Nourish means investing the time to learn the love language of those you love and to love them in ways that are meaningful to them. Often what says love to you, what excites you, what brings you great joy is different than what says love to your spouse or your child. Most of us have good intentions.
If we want to grow healthy relationships we must go beyond good intentions. We must learn how to create the kind of environment that can help love grow. The Bible tells us that this is exactly what Christ did for us. He went beyond warm feelings and good intentions to come to earth die on the cross, rise again, and in doing so give us what we really need.
Study of relationships between adult children and parents
He designed us with the ability to give and receive love. In the next two weeks, pick one person in your family and practice nourishing them. Cultivating an Encouraging Environment 1. A lack of encouragement leads to discouragement and depression which is the number one mental health problem of our time. In my last article I talked about the power of creative expressions of love. A healthy home cultivates an encouraging environment. Do you remember the last time you were criticized, minimized or put down?
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How did you feel? Did you feel better about yourself? How did you feel towards the person criticizing you? Were you motivated to do better? Or did you feel like giving up? An encouraging environment is one in which we spend more time building and encouraging our loved ones than we do scolding and correcting them. An encouraging environment is one where our emphasis is on catching those we love doing good rather than catching them making mistakes.
We invest more energy in praising them for being successful than in criticizing and castigating them for falling short of our expectations. Several months ago I criticized one of my boys for not making his bed. But he has made it every day for the past several days.
7 Keys to Building Strong Families
Have you noticed it and praised him for following through? But within minutes I went to him, acknowledged his hard work and told him how much I appreciated it. Without intending to many of us primarily respond to our children or spouses when their emotions are inappropriate or out of control.
An encouraging environment is one where it is safe for any family member to make mistakes.
In fact it is not only safe but our kids begin to learn that God can use our failures to help us grow. They learn that Romans 8: Get out a pad and pencil. Write down the name of your spouse and your kids. What are their strengths? What do they do well? What says love to them? What makes them laugh? What makes them beam?
What gives them joy? What is it about them that you are thankful for? What are three good things that they have done in the past week? Now, how many times during the last week have you given them a specific compliment or thanked them for something positive? When is the last time you gave them an inexpensive gift just for the fun of it? Several years ago when my son Andrew was five I went into his room, as I do almost every night, to chat and to pray with him.
This evening I decided to make up a song about all the things I appreciated and loved about him and started singing to him. After a couple of minutes I ran out of things to sing. For the next seven days set aside a couple of minutes each day to encourage each person on your list. At first they may not notice, but after a few days you will discover the power of an encouraging word.
The Gift of Healthy Anger 1. What do you think of when you hear the word anger? Why is it that of all the emotions anger has such a bad reputation? Why do so many people have a totally negative view of anger? Is all anger bad?