To have a strong family bond, you need mutual compromise, common ground, and respect. Life is much simpler when you have a supportive family unit that sticks with you through thick and thin.
Because life can be difficult, a kind word from mom and a gracious gesture from a sibling can help soothe your soul and keep you moving forward. Families are vital for our well-being, mental growth, and stability.
What Makes up a Family?
So, we’ve determined some of the benefits of a family, so let’s define what constitutes a family.
The immediate family includes parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Extended family is people you’re related to, such as cousins, aunts & uncles, nephews, nieces, and grandparents.
Families come in different sizes. There are the following:
The Importance of Family Relationships
- Nuclear (a couple and the children)
- Joint (a couple, the children, and grandchildren)
- Blended (a couple, the children, and children from the couple’s previous marriages)
Everyone is born into a family, but not everyone is fortunate enough to have a healthy one.
A healthy family unit makes each member feel connected and safe with each other. They offer support when needed, along with unconditional love. The family members will always look out for you and encourage you to see the best in yourself.
However, what impact does a family have on someone in their childhood and adult years? Does it matter to society? Here are seven reasons why your family is important:
1. Families determine your interaction in future relationships
A child’s first relationship is with their mother, father, and siblings, if any.
Whether healthy or unhealthy, these relationships provide an idea of what their future interactions will look like. People consciously or subconsciously choose friends and partners based on the similarities they have with their family.
2. You’ll develop healthier relationships throughout your life when you’re part of a close-knit family
Studies support that people who come from close-knit families typically continue enjoying close relationships later in life.
According to Psychological Science, a published study in 2016 looked at men and their relationships. Researchers found that men who had healthy, nurturing families developed stronger bonds than men who grew up in unhealthy families. They managed emotions much better and maintained a closer connection with their intimate partners.
3. Families give a greater sense of belonging
Isn’t it comforting to know that when we have had enough alone time, there are other people out there we can call on and hang out with?
Sure, you have your friends, but it’s not like the connection you have with your family. You grew up with other people sharing the same vacation and holiday memories. You can look to those memories during difficult times to help cheer you up. Growing up in a healthy family unit feels like belonging to something much bigger than yourself.
4. People need someone to rely on during challenging times
When life becomes complicated, people look for support. This is the time when a family comes in handy.
Support can come emotionally or financially. Individuals dealing with tough times often seek family they trust to give love and encouragement.
5. Families teach the importance of values
Values determine how a person treats others and how they see themselves. It’s also how they define their purpose in life.
Individuals adopt a value system within their family unit. They learn what their family sees as right or wrong and what’s essential to be a productive community member.
6. Families teach essential life lessons
Families are where kids first learn how to manage emotions. Also, it’s the first place they learn about the positive or negative consequences of their actions.
The parents are responsible for helping their children navigate the world by providing life lessons they will use for years. These lessons form a significant part of an individual’s worldview and how they believe the world operates.
7. Healthy families help strengthen society
When a family is a strong unit, the community is strong. Naturally, this leads to a healthy society. But what is the definition of “healthy?”
Regarding society, healthy is a term this is subjective. For instance, what one person, or group of people, believe is healthy. Others may not.
For example, some consider a child growing up in a loving same-sex couple household healthy because of the caring environment. On the other hand, those who take issue with same-sex couples don’t agree because of the family dynamic.
Strong Family Characteristics
Every family is different. However, all of those families considered strong have common characteristics. A few of them include the following:
A healthy family discusses and listens to every member. It also encourages adults and children to participate in the decision-making, discuss their expectations, and share their opinions.
Quality time with each other
Quality time is not time sitting in front of the television on the phone. Quality time ensures eating at least one meal together, if not every day, every other day. The family enjoys activities like camping, dining out, hiking, or playing together. They involve themselves in each other’s lives without overstepping boundaries.
Feelings of togetherness
Family members share common beliefs, which helps them connect. This affirms the family bond and gives the satisfaction of being with other like-minded individuals.
Leading by example
The older generation in the family teaches the younger ones about the value system set up by the family and society. But it’s not a “do as I say, not as I do” environment. Whatever lessons the older generation is teaching, they are also following.
Showing support to all members
Even if it appears the world has it in for you, your family is right there with you. They support you during your struggles and let you know they will back up your decisions.
Showing love and affection to all members
Although they may sometimes disagree, each family member shows care and acceptance of each other. They give unconditional love but guide you on the correct path if you stray. Because of their love, it makes you feel like you belong.
Focusing on the well-being of every member
When the family works as a team by protecting each other, there’s a feeling of mutual love and respect. This feeling can motivate individuals to put the needs of family members before theirs.
Families go through good and bad times and share their painful experiences, but even those tough times can’t break their incredible bond. In fact, it makes them stronger.
Using a crisis as an opportunity to flourish
The great thing about a family is that they strive to view every negative situation as something positive. This helps to keep the members from feeling overwhelmed when troubling times arise.
Ways to Build A Strong Family Relationship
Not every family automatically has a strong bond—some need to strengthen their foundation and build from there. Here are guaranteed ways to create a loving and caring family unit.
Spend Quality Time Together
It doesn’t matter when; set aside a couple of hours daily and use it as family time. This is when you can discuss any issue and laugh together.
- Share family stories and ask how their day went. Ask open-ended questions to encourage discussions.
- Set time apart for the adults to have “grown-up” conversations. Make time for just your spouse to do a check-in. Also, spend some time with the children, playing games or reading. Spending time individually with each family member will strengthen the family as a whole.
Maintain Good Communication with All Family Members
When your spouse or children want to talk, set aside time to discuss whatever is on their minds. Exercise good communication by putting away the phone and listening intently to what they say. Please don’t interrupt, and give them time to express themselves adequately.
- Be prepared to have a spontaneous talk with kids. Often, they want to talk about their feelings regardless of the time. Usually, it’s before bed or while in the shower.
- Make sure you’re approachable to discuss complex topics. People may be hesitant to talk about emotions like frustration, anger, or any delicate issue. But, instead of shunning them, be welcoming.
You aren’t encouraging them by just talking. Instead, you’re helping them find a resolution to the problem. Also, welcome possible unpleasant conversations. This is how individuals build trust and feel they can go to family members with any issue.
- Encourage non-verbal conversations with gestures like a hug or a kiss on the forehead every evening before your kids go to bed. It shows your love without having to speak the words, which kids can sometimes think is “cringy.”
- Be ready to discuss matters of concern, especially with teens and pre-teens. The topic of sex and drugs can be challenging to discuss with younger family members. However, you will build trust with them if you manage to get through it.
Celebrating Everyone’s Talents, Strengths, and Differences
Individuality makes the world go round, so why not celebrate it? A healthy family unit always recognizes the uniqueness of each of the members while acknowledging their talents and strengths. At the same time, they help to correct some of their shortcomings.
Staying Focused On Current Issues
While a family may have several issues, remaining focused on the task at hand is job number one. When addressing a problem, don’t bring up previous issues. This way, you can avoid distractions.
Making Sure to Appreciate Everyone in the Family
Typically, all family members have a particular duty in the household. For example, one may do the dishes, another takes out the trash, and the other sweeps the kitchen floor.
Be sure to appreciate everything they do. Then, take it a step further and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work around the house.
Establishing Family Rules
Create family rules that clearly demonstrate how each member should behave and treat one another. For instance, “We will speak to each other with respect,” or “We will help each other no matter what.” Small, concise rules like this can make the family unit peaceful and stronger.
Working Together like a Team
When you work as a team with your family, every member feels like they are contributing to the greater good. For example, to keep the house clean, each family member must do their part.
Even younger children may be tasked with duties like picking up their toys or cleaning their room. When everyone contributes, it feels like a sense of belonging.
Here are 4 ways to build family teamwork:
- Promoting an attitude of teamwork also promotes family cohesiveness. It helps the members to think about other people and their needs aside from themselves.
- Knowing someone is always in your corner helps strengthens a bond that isn’t necessarily there with other individuals like friends and co-workers.
- An additional benefit of family teamwork is that you can celebrate all victories together. This is what helps eliminate jealousy and competition among siblings.
- There’s a certain sense of “what’s good for one is good for all” mentality when a family works together. Instead of competing with each other, you’re competing with the world while uplifting one another.
How Do You Know You’ve Built Good Family Teamwork?
When you’ve done a good job building a teamwork mentality with each family member, it looks something like this:
- If one child gets candy and the other isn’t around, the first child will ask for a piece for their sibling
- Kids will work together to clean and organize their rooms
- One child will make breakfast for the other
- Children who share a room will pick out the design and coloring of a remodel together
- They decide on what movies to watch together. They’ll agree on a third choice if they both want a separate movie.
When you see siblings act like these scenarios, rest assured you’re headed in the right direction to building good family teamwork.
Effects of Negative Family Relationships
No family is perfect. However, some are more dysfunctional than others. Complex family relationships may come in the form of someone being overly critical, constant jealousy among siblings, or controlling behavior in parents.
These destructive family relationships may have long-term effects on your well-being. You might:
- Start blaming yourself for the poor relationship
- Stop reaching out to family members
- Feel like you don’t have emotional or financial support during difficult times
- Begin experiencing anxiety around family and during events/holidays
- Develop health issues due to stressful interactions with family
Research indicates that bad family relationships may contribute to depression symptoms. Learn to identify the causes of family issues and take proactive measures to create calm and peaceful interactions.
You may also decide professional help is best. If so, check online for a licensed therapist in your area.
Understand that there is no situation that you can’t make better. Your family relationships may not be perfect, but you can always heal by taking steps in the right direction.