Building Strong Family Relationships: It's Never too Late!
Posted on April 02 2018
As a wife and mother of two, I have come to understand the importance of building a strong family relationship. Every family aspires to be an unstoppable unit, but it’s not something that happens overnight. In fact, being a close-knit family takes a lot of hard work, education, perseverance, and plenty of strength. On any given day, you have to be willing to compromise, make sacrifices, and make decisions based on what affects the entire family – not just yourself.
For some people, this process can be entirely overwhelming. This is especially true for those who have joined an already-existent family unit (such as a new spouse, or a stepchild), or for new parents who have welcomed a bundle of joy into their world but are still adjusting to caring for someone else other than themselves. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to learn ways to improve family relationships, building on an existing foundation.
If you’re struggling to build a strong family relationship, or you’re just looking for a new approach, we’ve outlined five ways to bring everyone closer together. These tips have helped my family, and I’m hopeful they will make a dramatic difference to the way your family operates as well.
Eat meals together as often as possible
Meal times in most households, especially with young children, can be like feeding time at the zoo. Trust me; I know how crazy it can get! Often, you find yourself faced with the daily struggle of preparing a meal everyone will eat, not to mention the logistical nightmare of ensuring dinner is served at a set time. However, once you’ve mastered the menu, and the time dinner is ready, you will begin to realise that eating together helps improve family relationships.
It can be hard to believe that eating together is not commonplace anymore. Dad might come home late from work, your young children might need to eat earlier, or your teens might prefer to eat dinner in their bedroom – away from their “uncool” mum and dad. Within a split second, you may find yourself eating dinner alone at the table, while everyone else does their own thing. As a result, you can lose touch with what everyone in the family is doing, feeling, or experiencing. The kitchen is truly the heart of the home, and to build a strong family relationship, you need to try to retain that notion.
Without turning your daily routine on its head, start setting the dinner table long before dinner is ready, setting the expectation that everyone will be eating together. This might be met with groans from the teens, but once you’ve let everyone know that this is to be the new routine, they will grumpily fall in line. From here, you will begin to realise that relationships with family members start to improve, you get to hear about what the kids have been up to for the day, and you might even share a few laughs. Your family unit is starting to take shape.
Encourage family members to share their thoughts and feelings
On a daily basis, every member of your family will be doing something different. In my household, I work from home, one child goes off to school, one child stays home with me or attends daycare, and my husband works as a consultant and entrepreneur. We all have our set daily routine – and it takes us in all different directions.
There are plenty of families with similar patterns. As a result, it becomes all too easy to lose track of who’s doing what, and what daily events might have occurred for each member of the family. While this is just a sign of modern times, it does mean it becomes harder for people to feel like they can talk about their thoughts and feelings, as the invitation is never extended. Therefore, to build strong family relationships, you need to find time to welcome and encourage such discussions.
A good time for open discussion could be at dinner time around the table, or it could be during one-on-one activities such as trips to the park, or date nights with your wife or husband. There’s no need for interventions to improve family relationships, but there have to be steps put in place to ensure everyone feels comfortable sharing.
Make time for family holidays
As previously mentioned, life can get a little busy. Everyone is doing their own thing, and then once the weekend arrives, there’s a lot to catch up on. While we can all get caught up in our crazy lifestyles, it’s crucial to make time for family outings.
Family holidays are good opportunities for the entire family to come together and enjoy each other’s company. It might be a trip to the park, the beach, the swimming pool, or somewhere equally as exciting. However, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the trip getting there. The kids can ride their bikes, mum and dad might as well, and why not get the kids involved in preparing finger food for a picnic for the impending outing? A family day out can turn an ordinary day into something truly extraordinary.
Schedule alone time
Once you become a parent, it’s all too easy to forget that you exist outside of parenthood – that you were once a couple who went to movies, had date nights, and enjoyed nights out for dinner. Even though you now have dependents, there’s no reason why those nights have to stop – they just have to be planned. Now more than ever, it’s important to be a united front. Your children rely on you to be one unit, and date nights can help you destress, become reacquainted, and reminisce about what it was like before you had children.
Date nights and alone time should not just be infrequent, rare occasions either. It’s important to set time aside at least once a week to be alone. It might just be a walk along the beach, or coffee at a café, but it’s important for the strength of your family relationship to keep time aside for yourselves as a couple.
Set clear expectations
When you’re looking for ways to improve family relationships, it’s a good idea for mum and dad to sit down and discuss what the plan of attack is. Find out what it is you need from each other, then work together to improve that strong, bonded family unit. To achieve the goal, dad might look at finishing work a little earlier to make it home for family dinner, while mum might need to reschedule any weekend work to make time for family outings. Every family has to make sacrifices, but when it’s for the good of your relationship, it’s so important to do so.
It’s never too late to build strong family relationships – regardless of the age of the children, or the parents. Have you revitalised the way in which your family operates? How did you create a strong family unit? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks.