Over the years, it seems as if the family unit has become less of a focal point in society. At the very least, it’s been neglected. But if you want to have a happy and healthy nuclear family, it’s important that you make it a priority.
Putting Family First
Despite the decline of the nuclear family in recent years, the importance of having a healthy and connected family dynamic isn’t lost on people. Both parents and children benefit from spending quality family time together and intentionally strengthening relationships over long periods of time. Specific advantages and benefits include:
Healthy relationships. Children aren’t genetically programmed to be healthy members of society. If you want them to enjoy healthy relationships with other people, you need to model it for them. The family unit is the best place for this. Children learn by watching their parents and by interacting with their siblings. It’s a pertinent piece to the larger puzzle of their lives.
Learn to forgive. While it’s become a bit of a lost art over the decades, forgiveness is something that both children and adults can learn to give and receive within the family dynamic. And when you learn to forgive one another, you’re more likely to extend that same mercy and grace to others outside of the family.
Lower stress and anxiety. Though it can be influenced by genetics, many people develop issues with anxiety as a result of their surroundings. When you have a close, well-connected family, it’s less likely that children will feel the kind of chronic stress that results in anxiety issues down the road.
Fewer behavioral problems. Behavioral problems can be caused by any number of issues and outside circumstances. However, it’s much more likely that isolated issues are quickly stymied when there’s a close, well-connected family unit in place.
Improved academic performance. Children who have more involvement from parents and siblings tend to perform better in school, which ultimately leads to more opportunities in higher education and their chosen career field.
4 Tips for Strengthening Your Family’s Bond
It’s one thing to all live under the same room. But if you want to become closer and better connected as a family unit, you have to be intentional with your time, actions, and leadership. Here are some tangible ways you can strengthen your family bond in the coming months and years:
Figure Out Who You Are
Have you ever taken the time to pause as a family and figure out what you identity is? Much like a business has a mission statement, core values, and a distinct brand identity, your family needs to determine and document who you are. We call this creating a family manifesto. Here’s how you do it:
Brainstorm. Begin by figuring out what’s important to your family and what you want to achieve. Feel free to design your own brainstorming process, but we recommend having each family conduct their own individual brainstorming sessions. Then you come together and have a collective brainstorming session where you combine ideas.
Roundtable. Once brainstorming is complete, you convene as a group to develop a concentrated list of the most important items and determining factors. If necessary, take a vote on which items do and don’t make it into the manifesto.
Develop. Now comes the fun part where you bring your ideas to life in the form of a tangible manifesto. In a digital world where everything is online, there’s power in designing and printing a booklet that you can touch, feel, and hold. It can be placed on a coffee table and picked up whenever the family needs a reminder of what it stands for.
Revisit. Your job doesn’t stop with designing a manifesto booklet and tossing it on the coffee table. Make it a point to revisit the ideas you included in this book every six to twelve months.
The process of developing a family manifesto can take weeks, but it’s something that’s always productive. It creates space for meaningful conversation while also establishing clarity around identity, hopes, goals, dreams, and priorities.
Schedule Family Events in Advance
Family bonding happens in the day-to-day interactions, but it can be strengthened tremendously by scheduling big family events and experiences. You should aim for at least one to three of them per calendar year. Things like vacations, road trips, parties, and group activities are all highly effective in strengthening the family bond.
Eat Meals Together
The family dinner table is one of the most sacred places/times a family has. Aside from the nutritious benefits of eating home cooked meals together, family dinnertime opens up the door for good conversation and strategic parenting.
There’s something about breaking bread together that makes it easier to discuss issues (good or bad) and strengthen bonds. While you might not be able to eat dinner together as a family every night, you should prioritize at least three dinners per week. Put them on the calendar so that everyone knows about them and hold everyone accountable for being present. (This is easier to do when kids are younger, but requires more persistence and planning as they enter into the teenage years.
Utilize Technology Appropriately
Technology should be used strategically. You don’t want to outlaw it – which just creates resentment – but it shouldn’t be allowed to commandeer family time. Set rules on when screens are allowed and when they need to be shut down. If your kids are older and your family is geographically dispersed, tools like FaceTime and group text threads can help strengthen communication.
Is Your Family a Priority?
When asked whether their family is important to them, very few people will respond in the negative. But there’s a difference between saying your family is a priority and actually putting weight behind the statement.
The only way to prove that your family is a priority is to spend time, energy, and effort unifying the family unit and bringing everyone closer together. Hopefully this article has supplied you with some helpful ideas and solutions that you can coalesce around in the coming months and years. Now’s the time to get started.