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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

5 Ways to Build a Happier Family

Family Playtime

1. Abandon comparisons. Comparing people is never helpful, whether it is comparing your child to her sibling or one child to another child or your spouse to your friend's spouse or yourself to the PTO leader.  Even favored comparisons (you're a much better singer than your sister!) are harmful. Each person in your family should know that (s)he is adored for being just who (s)he is. Be mindful of your language and thought patterns throughout the day and take a mental note if you find yourself making comparisons, then try to eliminate it altogether. When everyone knows they are loved wholly for who they are at this moment, they will flourish!

Read:
Enjoying Each Child as an Individual
Valuing Your Spouse: 3 Tremendous Ways to Do So
"See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see." - Dr. Wayne Dyer
2.  Unplug and tune in. We love our smartphones, iPads, and social networking sites, but it can be easy to tune out your family when you're plugged in all the time. If you want a happier, closer family, commit to some "unplugged time" daily. Put away all the gadgets, shut down the computer, and connect with your spouse and your kids for some time each day with no distractions.
Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, has been studying how parental use of technology affects children and young adults. After five years and 300 interviews, she has found that feelings of hurt, jealousy and competition are widespread. Her findings will be published in “Alone Together” early next year by Basic Books.
In her studies, Dr. Turkle said, “Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and during sports events.”  
Read:
The Long-Term Effects of Technology on Family Time
The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In
'Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, love them close up and teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you've accomplished, invented, authored or inspired will have mattered as much'. ~ Wingate
3.  Create family traditions/rituals.  Traditions and rituals unique to your family gives everyone the feeling of being part of something special and create a wonderful sense of belonging.  Many treasured memories lie in family rituals. Rituals help us identify who we are both as an individual and as a family; they provide something constant, stable, and secure in a confusing world. These traditions and rituals don't have to be complex or expensive, just a little something that says "home."

Read:
The Importance of Family Traditions and How to Create Them
The Importance of Family Rituals

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. - Susan Lieberman

4.  Home is a safe haven.  Home should be a place of comfort and joy for all family members. Naturally the occasional conflict will arise, but if there is constant bickering in your home between children, parents, or parent and child, it's time to put a stop to it. No one can find rest in a place with such negative energy, and it is stressful to be in constant conflict. If the battles are between your children, set clear limits on what is acceptable and what is not. Do not allow bullying, taunting, or name-calling. Each child has a right to feel safe in his/her own home. See the article below, Solutions for Siblings, for more on this.

Your relationship with your spouse is a model for your children. The way you two interact sets the stage for your child's future relationships. Model respectful communication even through disagreements, and your children are more likely to do the same. If you and your spouse are in constant conflict, seek help.
Chronic parental conflict creates a climate of tension, chaos, disruption and unpredictability in the family environment that is meant to be safe and secure and comfortable to grow up in. Children feel anxious, frightened, and helpless. They may worry about their own safety and their parents’ safety even if there has been no actual or threatened violence.
If you are in constant conflict with your child, there are several steps you can take. The first is to reconnect with your child and re-establish the bond that has been lost.  Second, clean the lens through which you see your child. What does your child look like?  Third, reset the overall tone by remaining respectful when conflicts arise and avoid yelling. If you need to take a time out to manage yourself, there's nothing wrong with doing so. In fact, this teaches your child the valuable skill of learning to handle his own emotions. Work toward problem-solving instead of doling out punishments or consequences.

Read:
Solutions for Siblings
Chronic Parental Conflict: How It Can Be Harmful for Children
Connecting With Your Child
Negotiating Parent-Child Conflicts
It Only Takes 3 Minutes to Stop Yelling at Your Child

My home is the home of peace.My home is the home of joy and delight.My home is the home of laughter and exultation.Whosoever enters through the portalsof this home, must go out witha gladsome heart. This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined. ~Abdu'l Baha~

5.  Family Meetings.  It may sound like a corny idea at first, but family meetings are a great way to show appreciation, plan things, and tackle problems. During a family meeting, children know that their opinions matter, and family meetings further solidify their place in the family unit. 

Read:
How to Use Family Meetings to Build a Closer Family
Family Meetings

Listen:
Importance of Family Meetings Podcast
"The family meeting is a place where all of our families are defined.  It's a place for us to practice being our best as parents and allowing our children to become their best. It's a place for children to practice using their voice in a productive, positive, and respectful way.  It's a place to show appreciation for each other on a regular basis." - Vicki Hoefle

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