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Improving Family Relations

April 04, 2020

Improving Family Relations

Every family is its own unique combination of people and personalities.  Even though they come in all shapes and sizes, healthy families have some commonalities.  A healthy family is comprised of people who love each other and are able to respect each other’s similarities and differences.  Healthy families also know how to compromise, and they are fiercely resilient; they bounce back after crisis and periods of prolonged stress.

Negative Coping Strategies

Obviously, not all families have healthy relationships.  Some members incorporate negative strategies for coping with stress.  Some examples are distancing, overdoing/underdoing, focusing on a child, or jumping into conflict.  These negative ways of managing stress harm the family dynamic:

 

Distancing- This unhealthy strategy occurs when family members avoid conversations together because they are concerned about potential conflict.  They stop sharing their thoughts and feelings and fail to spend real time together.

 

Overdoing/underdoing- With this negative coping method, one or more family members begin to assume the responsibilities of others.  When this happens, the remaining members decrease their efforts.  Family members can easily become stuck in this imbalance of responsibility.

 

Focusing on a child- To avoid conflict, some families will simply focus on a child instead.  When severe stress or fighting begins, children are usually the most vulnerable in the household.  Therefore, parents will focus their attention solely on that child to calm things down.  Their intentions might be good, but often the child reacts to this intense pressure and increased attention.  These children will typically begin to act out or develop physical or emotional symptoms.

 

Conflict- A final negative coping mechanism is conflict itself.  Some families will start an all-out war when they’re stressed, engaging in yelling and emotional abuse.  The smallest disagreement could set someone off, creating a hostile environment. 

 

Tips to Improve Family Relations

There are many positive ways to manage stress and handle conflict.  The following strategies for communication skills, relational values, and personal and family responsibilities provide simple solutions for improving family dynamics:

 

Communication Skills

  • Communicate openly- Unlike the negative strategy of distancing, family members feel comfortable asking for help if needed. They’re able to speak up when they disagree.  If they see a different solution to a problem, they voice it.  Because conflict is unavoidable in a family, open communication is essential.
  • Think before you speak- Responsible family members think first and then speak. Too often we automatically react to a situation based purely on emotion.  If we are able to create some space and consider the other’s perspective and thoughts, we can focus on responding instead of reacting.  Problem solving and compromise are much easier when they come from a non-reactive place. 

Relational Values

  • Explore values- Family members won’t agree on everything. There will be preferences for different hobbies, tastes, or even political or religious views. However, there are common values that family members may choose to share and uphold.  For example, a shared value might be showing mutual respect for all family members.  Another might be to demonstrate appreciation for one another with acts of kindness.  Shared values become the mortar for a strong family foundation.
  • Develop one-to-one relationships- In a healthy family unit, every individual has a solid relationship with every other person. No one teams up, complains, or gossips in a family member’s absence.

Personal and Family Responsibilities

  • Take personal responsibility- Schedules today are often very full. Families can easily fall out of sync and become unclear about who is doing what.  Certain family members may take on more than what is required of them.  Others might be all too willing to allow that to occur, so they can have fewer responsibilities.  Conflict arises when one assumes another will handle a situation, and they don’t.  In a healthy family, individuals own their personal responsibilities and accept any consequences for failing to do so.  Family members encourage one another and hold each other accountable.
  • Ask for help- Stress happens to every family. A strong, healthy family focuses on the positive in challenging times. Family members are able to pull together, share responsibilities, and problem solve.  If the family needs additional help, strong families don’t hesitate to ask for it.  Friends, neighbors, religious communities, or helping professionals all serve as excellent resources for families. 

The success of a healthy family largely comes down to being together.  When you make time for one another, you communicate that you care with more than just your words.  Make time to have fun and celebrate each other’s victories.  Listen to one another’s stories, thoughts, and feelings.  Make memories and laugh together.  When working toward the common goal of a healthy family, everyone has a shared interest in success. 

 

Want to talk to a counselor today about this? 

Call Amplified Life at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.

 

Sources:

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/1229-strengthening-family-relationships

http://www.childwelfare.gov

 




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