Summer is a Time for Family Connection
Picnics, hikes, swimming, and family re-unions: is your family connecting in a way that feels good for everyone?
Enrich your family time by...
- Facilitating cohesion and communication
- Promoting problem-solving & better understanding of family dynamics
- Building empathy and understanding
- Reducing conflict within the family.
Regardless of the type of family you’re in, biological family or a family of friends through choice, there are certain characteristics that set some families apart in terms of overall happiness, health, and well-being.
1. Want to Spend Quality Time Together: In today’s overly scheduled world, it can be an effort to accomplish this. Quality time can be spent physically, emotionally, or by mentally connecting. Healthy families are intentional about giving other family members their undivided attention. Whether baking cookies, playing a board game, eating a meal, attending a soccer game, or having a meaningful talk, healthy families enjoy one another’s company.
2. Maintain Appropriate Boundaries: Three types of boundaries are important in a family: the boundary of self, the boundary of the parent couple, and the boundary of the family. The boundary of self is the individual’s ability to identify as separate from other members of the family. Healthy families allow each individual to have their own personality, interests, preferences, as well as an ability to speak for themselves. The boundary between the parents and their children is also present in a healthy family. This means parents are responsible for providing safety, structure, and meeting the needs of their children as the adults. Finally, the boundary between a family, the outside world, and across generations is permeable. Just like the membrane of a cell, families with healthy boundaries allow those who grow and strengthen the family to join (i.e. a new baby or daughter-in-law) yet maintain a sense of safety and security for the members against harmful influences. Additionally, healthy family boundaries allow for members to leave the family in order to carry out their adult lives without fear of guilt, shame, or rejection.
3. Experience Emotional Intimacy: Just like quality time, healthy communication is essential to good family function. Members of healthy families communicate in a calm, respectful manner where members feel safe to share different feelings, experiences, and ideas without fear of negative judgment or abandonment.
4. Share a Commitment to One Another: In healthy families, individuals realize the health of each family member contributes to the family’s wellness. Members of these families fulfill promises, defend each other, and honor each individual in the family. Healthy families are committed to the success of each unique family member as it is essential to the wellness of the entire family system.
5. Express Affirmation, Encouragement & Affection: Healthy families express gratitude for one another and share words of encouragement during difficult times. Family members honor one another’s unique gifts, talents, and abilities with their words and actions. They act like cheerleaders and do not compete with one another for attention. They care for one another during illness, show physical affection, and express their genuine love for one another.
6. Freedom to Fail & Receive Forgiveness: Family members are free to try new things and make mistakes without disrupting the family unit. Family members extend grace for one another’s mistakes without guilt and shame.
7. Shared Stories: Healthy families have traditions around holidays, birthdays, and shared stories of resilience of hardships overcome. Some of these experiences provide each member with a shared purpose.
8. Manage Conflict: Healthy families see conflict and disagreement as a regular part of navigating family life. Healthy families allow space for each person to both talk and listen. When disagreements arise, they are addressed in a timely, assertive, and effective manner. Everyone in the family is capable of apology to another family member.
9. Enjoy Being Together: Healthy families have fun and laugh together. They do not dread time together and instead, they look forward to shared humor and joy that helps them overcome obstacles.
10. Can Be Yourself: In a healthy family, you should feel like you can be the most authentic version of yourself. You should feel a sense of unconditional love when you show up around your family. You should feel appreciated regardless of your appearance, grades in school, income level, employment, or relationship status. You should feel most at home around a healthy family system.